Evan Adams

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Smoke Signals Review


Excellent
To those who think the world of watching movies as a job all fun and games, remember that it is a chore as well. You are forced to sit through numerous bad movies, forced to lose faith slowly and surely in the film industry until it is almost gone. The cynicism you harbor eats you up inside until you have nothing left but your own cruel intentions towards an industry that you have no affinity left for.

Then, as hope has dwindled to an almost non-existent point, you sit back and watch a film like Smoke Signals. Smoke Signals is one of those rare movies that you never hear a bad word about. It is one of those films that comes out of nowhere, has no big names or bad lines, and is a completely original story... in short, the main things most movies lack.

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The Business of Fancydancing Review


Good
In the press materials for his new film The Business of Fancydancing, writer/director Sherman Alexie calls making the movie -- cheaply and with every crew member sharing in the profits -- "a tribal collaboration of art and capital." After seeing it I call this an extraordinary act of generosity. No auteur is an island, but in The Business of Fancydancing, we can feel the long shadow of Sherman Alexie everywhere. The film is based on a 1992 collection of poems that first brought Alexie to prominence as a writer. Several more books of poetry, novels and short story collections followed, including The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, the basis for the acclaimed film Smoke Signals (1999). Nearly all of Alexie's creative output (oh, he's a national slam poet champion too) has been aimed at a reinterpretation of the Indian (he rejects the term "Native American" and so will I) in contemporary American culture. Tonto, Chief, and the Indian Crying over Pollution gather dust on the shelf of the past. Alexie sees today's Indians (he himself is Spokane/Coeur d'Alene) as raised on rock 'n' roll, aware of their simpleminded portrayal in Hollywood, and conflicted over the legitimacy of reservation life.

Alexie centers this conflict on Seymour Polatkin, a gay poet who has moved off "the rez" to Seattle and enjoys a successful literary career. His best friend Aristotle Joseph went to college with Seymour but dropped out to return to the reservation where "Indians like us belong." Several years later, Seymour has received word that their old friend Mouse the Violin Player has killed himself. Seymour heads back to the rez for the funeral where Anges Roth, his college girlfriend who is both Spokane and Jewish, is a school teacher and now Aristotle's lover.

Continue reading: The Business of Fancydancing Review

The Business Of Fancydancing Review


Good

"The Business of Fancydancing" is a distinctively empathetic drama about an egotistical, intellectual, gay American Indian poet returning to his reservation 16 years after leaving to make his fortune by publicly exploiting the heritage he privately shuns.

The funeral of a childhood friend is the catalyst for this trip that Seymour Polatkin (Evan Adams) doesn't want to make, knowing he'll find harsh criticism from former buddies and members of the tribe he left behind as fast as he could after graduating high school.

A highly personal meditation on the choices we make that define our identity, this film is the work of independent Indian filmmaker Sherman Alexie (writer of "Smoke Signals"), who does an extraordinary job of bringing to life the fear, frustration and bitterness of his cast of characters, as well as the blood ties and kinship that bind them together in spite of it all.

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