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Four Sheets to the Wind Review


Good
A 2007 Sundance favorite that never found its way to a feature release, Four Sheets to the Wind deserves to be seen. As a no-budget, small-scale, deeply personal drama, it's a good example of a narrowcast indie effort that focuses hard on individual performances because it can't afford to do anything else.

The title hints at trouble with alcohol, and trouble there is. In fact, the story begins with 20-ish Cufe Smallhill, an Oklahoma Seminole-Cree, dragging the corpse of his father, who has committed suicide, to a pond for a quick and private underwater burial as the man requested. It's quite an image. (Later, with the help of his cousin, he puts watermelons in a coffin to weigh it down and conceal his actions from the friends who gather for the funeral.)

Continue reading: Four Sheets to the Wind Review

Manic Review


OK
When troubled teen Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes postal, gets put in restraints, and is commited by his mother to a juvenile mental facility, we get sent there, as well. Suddenly, we're in institutional surroundings much like that in Girl, Interrupted -- only we stay there. We don't get to escape and have an adventure on the outside. What's worse, we're subjected to digital video camera work that is tortuous enough to bring out whatever manic manifestation there might be lurking on the edge of our frontal lobe. It's cinema verité and as subjective as a camera can be.

The backstory on Lyle is that he attacked a kid with a baseball bat. Yes, the guy taunted him during a baseball game, and Lyle has had his share of troubles at home -- all of which is going to come out in therapy -- but that's why he's considered enough of a menace to society and to himself to make him a candidate for Northward Mental Institution, a spa for undisciplined youths run by therapist-in-charge Dr. David Monroe (Don Cheadle). Totally tight-lipped at first, Lyle commands attention by the sheer unpredictability of how and when his fast fuse of rage will ignite into violence.

Continue reading: Manic Review

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