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Another viewer wrote: "Killer premise: Black male teacher is recruited
suddenly to teach English at an Indian reservation high school and
takes over as coach of the hapless girls basketball team." Actually, it
wasn't an original premise at all, but a true story.
Just enough details were changed by the producers to avoid having to pay for the rights to the life of coach Jerry Richardson and the young women of the Shiprock, New Mexico Lady Chieftains high school basketball team. An award-winning documentary ("Rocks With Wings") about Coach Richardson, the team, and their profound influence upon life on the Navajo Reservation had already played across the country and aired on PBS before Chris Eyre and Willy Holtzman attempted their awkward adaptation-- "Rocks With Wings" tells the same story, but with far greater insight and subtlety, as well as a few more plot twists. I would recommend that documentary over "Edge of America" to anyone interested in this story.
This film came out of nowhere the other night when it showed on cable.
The movie directed by Chris Eyre and written by William Holtzman, is
one of the most uplifting stories about how a teacher that cares to get
involved makes all the difference in the world of the young basket ball
It's obvious the women's basket ball team of the Three Nations high sucks big time; they play badly and are not coordinated at all. The new black teacher, Kenny Wwilliams, who comes to the school to teach, realizes the young women show potential. Basically, these kids show little self esteem and insecurity in the basket ball court. Kenny, in trying to help the girls, steps into a lot of toes, making him a not well liked figure in the school.
All that changes when he gets Baby, a girl that is not attending the school, but who has potential, to join the team. Carla, the rebel girl who lives with her alcoholic father, comes around to join the others in a sport where she obviously excels. The high school goes from being a joke into the state finals thanks to what the coach Williams does for the team.
The film is inspirational and has a positive message. In fact, this is one of the best sports films ever made. The movie works because of the great performance by James McDaniel, who as Kenny Williams is the spark that ignites the teen agers to realize their potential. Tim Daly makes a appearance as Carla's father. Delanna Studi plays the rebel Carla with conviction.
"Edge of America", which is based on a true story shows how one person can turn around a bunch of losers into winners by making them believe in themselves.
Killer premise: Black male teacher is recruited suddenly to teach English
at an Indian reservation high school and takes over as coach of the hapless
girls basketball team. Chris Eyre is a talented director. (He actually
reprises the reservation DJ commentary that was so funny in Smoke Signals.)
This is Hoosiers on the Rez.
I love Eyre's movies because they are thoughtful, funny and compassionate, and always force us to consider people in a new light. He does an extraordinary job of exposing us to the good and the bad in Indian country, and I walk away from his films both enlightened and uplifted.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very good sports related drama. Kenny Williams(James McDaniel), a
black educator from Texas leaves a past behind and takes a position
teaching English at Three Nations High School in a small Native
American community in Utah. Williams not only has problems fitting into
the close knit society...he faces obstacles accepting coaching the
girl's basketball team. He struggles with turning around a losing team
and preparing them to hold their own against a rivaling nearby
all-white high school.
Some interesting sub-plots and a strong cast featuring: Wes Studi, Tim Daly, Irene Bedard, Fraya Aspaas-Montoya, Eddie Spears, Trini King and most impressive Delanna Studi. Some very contrasting scenery filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of my favorite scenes is when the black coach is called a 'white man'. This project had a very successful premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004.
The premise is reasonable. Basketball is big on many reservations, and there are black basketball players (e.g., Kareem Abdul-Jabaar) who have volunteer on reservations. Sure, there are a lot of clichés from other Indian movies. But overall, the acting is good (especially Wes Studi), though the black coach's performance is a bit stiff at times. The most surprisingly thing about the film to me is that it never got any kind of commercial release. But then again, it is about Indians. And who is the Uwhited States of America cares about Indians? Not many people. Fortunately in my town there are several outlets to see non-commercial movies ("Christmas in the Clouds" is another good, Native-American-theme movie that you probably won't see unless you live in a similar town). Anyway, thanks, Mr. Eyre, for a good show. Maybe not your best pic, but still a good one.
An above-average TV movie that avoids the pitfalls of cliche.
This movie began airing as "On The Edge" on the Dutch Hallmark Channel in December 2003. It's a solid piece of work on all levels, well above average for family-oriented TV movies. James McDaniel performs with typical power as Kenny Williams, a racially aggrieved black schoolteacher and basketball coach who has relocated from his home in Texas to the Three Nations Reservation in Utah. There the coach takes over the hapless girls' basketball team. Predictable culture clashes, high-school social conflicts, family tensions, and athletic drama unfold from there. But the story remains relatively spare, relying on believable characterization rather than its timeworn plot elements to carry the film. Williams' struggle to adapt to, and find acceptance in, his new community dominates the story. At one point, not long after a parent from a nearby white high school has all but called Williams a "nigger," the mother of a girl on the team dismisses him as a "white man."
It's surprisingly compelling material, but it means that the Native American community drops into the background despite the able performances of a large cast. This is a movie about a black coach in a Native American community, not a movie about a Native American community with a black coach. The latter would have been a more compelling story. The very similar "Stand And Deliver" devotes more attention to the students in the story and is a better movie for it.
The movie is beautifully shot. Interior scenes convey a feeling of authenticity with their lived-in-ness, and the exterior shots do justice to the majestic landscapes of the American West. Also, the soundtrack features several new recordings by singer/ songwriter Annie Humphrey. "Edge of America" and "Good Medicine" might be her best work to date.
Thankfully, the new coach is not able to turn his team into state champions overnight with a motivational speech at the end of the first act. Instead, we see Williams repeatedly making mistakes and struggling to learn from them for the sake of his own pride and the team's progress. His relationship with the girls on the team is complicated by their appreciation of his efforts and their frustration at his shortcomings. The story concludes with a satisfyingly low-key scene of homecoming for the team and their coach that steers clear of either the triumphalism or mawkish melodrama that mar most sports dramas.
I saw this movie at Sundance. I am not a basketball fan, nor am I particularly interested in Native American affairs. But I LOVED this movie, and it seemed as if everyone else in the theater did too. It was by far the best film I saw at the festival this year. There are a few flaws you have to overlook - James McDaniels' character is remarkably insensitive to Indian culture, and says some things that no kind intelligent person would, though the character is supposed to be both kind and intelligent. But forget that - McDaniel still makes you believe he's real, and the girls who play the losers-turned-winners on his team are marvelous. For whatever issues of believability you may have, how can you knock a movie that makes people stand up and cheer? And gives us a conclusion that may not be the easy predictable one? The world needs more movies like this. Go see it. You won't be sorry!
Chris Eyre has done a wonderful job of presenting Indian life in America
today. The reality of the reservation was presented in a wonderful way -
not as victims or heros but as real people just trying to live their
I especially liked the fact that this movie avoided typical Pan Indian Images that plague so much of what is presented in the media about Native Americans and their culture.
Chris Eyre's Edge of America is a wonderful contribution to storytelling. It's evident that this young director is a visionary with potential for Hugh success. The story possesses a warm personal human touch, which makes it totally relateable. I could see it over and over again. His fine technique with actors allows for a smooth transition into the character they are portraying. He sets no boundaries or limitations, which gives the actor endless possibilities. His choices are clever, thought provoking, humorous and quite believable. He's the kind of director actors dream of working with. His film Smoke Signals was a true testament of what's to come with Chris' brilliant sense of storytelling and once again he's met the mark. It's time for this director to apply his creative genius to the silver screen once again. I can hardly wait.
This was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. I hope to be able to see this movie again and again. It is worth watching more than once. The moral to this story, more people need to see. Thank you to all the people involved in making this movie. I think the choice of actors made this movie about as real as if you were a part of the movie. This is one movie I'll be recommending to everyone. It is not a sports movie but a movie about REAL life. No matter where a person goes in this Edge of America at some point all of us become a minority and we all need to learn we can make this world a better place working together. This is what the movie is teaching us.
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