Social realism regarding struggles of reservation-dwelling Native Americans in the North Central states of the US. Main character is an introspective and lovable person in a process of ... See full summary »
Joannelle Nadine Romero
Thirty year old Torontonian Asa Gemmill loves movie musicals of the 1930s and 1940s, especially little known Canadian movies starring Mar Stoddart, who he views as the Canadian Fred Astaire... See full summary »
In South Dakota, in an Indian reservation, an old storyteller Indian asks his grandson Shane, who is in trouble owing money to some bad guys, to take his old pony and him to Albuquerque to ... See full summary »
This award-winning documentary deals with the popularization and commercialization of Native American spiritual traditions by Non-Indians. Important questions are asked of those seeking to ... See full summary »
Virgil First Raise wakes with a shiner and a hangover in a roadside ditch on the stark but beautiful plains of Montana. As he rises to face the day he sees a vision of his father lying dead... See full summary »
Love Actually... Sucks! was inspired by real-life events, and opens with a dramatic wedding feast. It tells a variety of stories about love that has gone wrong: a brother and sister in an ... See full summary »
Seymour Polatkin is a successful, gay Indian poet from Spokane who confronts his past when he returns to his childhood home on the reservation to attend the funeral of a dear friend. Written by
At cost of risking the authorial fallacy, I'll say that I took this film to be autobiographical. One advantage of having a talented writer do a film about a talented writer is that, when the protagonist reads his writing, you don't cringe (we should also have first-rate musicians write the score in movies about fictional musicians). In "The Business of Fancydancing" the writing is gorgeous and is what gives the film substance and shining power. Seymour Polatkin/Sherman Alexie's poetry makes up the bulk of the screenplay, whether in the form of actual poems (read by the protagonist or other characters, printed on still frames, or rendered in song), or as part of the dialogue. The film is non-linear and non-realistic: people don't always speak like real people and events don't follow one another in chronological fashion. But Alexie is brutally honest in his portrayal of the truth of his characters, and the film finally feels much more authentic than most made-to-look-realistic, traditional movies. It is one of the paradoxes of fiction that realism is frequently better achieved through non-realistic means.
"Fancydancing" is a wrenching and angry movie about identity, belonging, and race. Leading one's life as a Native American is clearly no easy job, and Alexie takes a very unsentimental look at the ordeals and dilemmas that come with a Native heritage. His characters are not especially likeable, and all make questionable choices. As Alexie makes clear, however, there are no "right" choices. Whether you stay or go, conform or depart, life's going to getcha and people are going to be mad at you.
The poetry beautifully depicts the pain of this dilemma while at the same time showing the redemption that comes with living the dilemma, sticking with it, not giving in. The images are occasionally hokey, and some sequences could have been cut without any loss to the overall effect of the film. But this is a brave film with a brave, unsparing vision, and it deserves a wide viewership.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?