rev-ewe 34: Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals
Chris Eyre

Aha!  I've found another American film to add to my list of movies.  I know, I can be horribly snobbish when it comes to the types of movies I watch, but it just so happens I don't usually like American movies... And, arguably, this movie isn't "American".  This movie is directed, produced and written by Native Americans.  If you've ever read (and enjoyed) any Sherman Alexie books, then you'll love this movie.

I don't know that plot is even important to this movie at all.  Probably because in actuality, the film is just a compilation of various Sherman Alexie short stories, but also just because it's more about the characters than it is about any sort of plot or conflict resolution.  It presents some really down-to-earth interpretations of Native issues.  Life on reservations, the problems faced by many American Indians today, and what it means to be American Indian (Though, I will note that the three main actors are all Canadian! ...well, whatever that means.).  

I think it's so successful in this way because it's actually written and produced by Native Americans!  I've always had an issue with any minority topics being presented by white people/men.  That's right, I said it!  I can't stand when white people(men) try to represent cultures/experiences they don't and could never actually understand (I'm writing this as an angry anthropologist, as well, because years of reading ethnographies written by white men gets to ya).  Nooot the case with Smoke Signals, though.

The direction is great, writing even better, and it leaves you feeling really satisfied at the end.  The screenshot I chose was from a monologue given by the main character's father, which was perhaps one of the best monologues I've ever heard.  Such beautiful analogies, fervor, love.  I'm def a sucker for great metaphors, and this one deeeelivers.  The movie has a great sense of humor and there's just the right amount of it and used to the right purpose.  While I found the film just the slightest bit too exaggerated at first, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, quite the opposite!  The over-the-top depiction of these characters and their stories makes it even more fun to watch.  

Really, overall, just delightful and has some absolutely fantastic characters and monologues.  Sure, not THE GREATEST, but it's just one of those good movies you enjoy watching and is certainly above and beyond anything Hollywood is dishing out these days.


rev-ewe 33: Korkoro

Korkoro (English: Freedom/Alone)
Tony Gatlif

So much to say about this movie!  Like so many other French movies, it lacks any real plot or usual conflict-resolution arc.  It focused on the Romani gypsies in Nazi-occupied France.  Some might say this is the France/Gypsy version of Schindler's List, but... I certainly liked this movie more.  It was definitely interesting to see a part of the Holocaust that isn't usually discussed.

Within the first five minutes, I was sold.  At first, it seemed to be just another pretentiously 'artistic' film, but it quickly picked up and suddenly you're thrust into the characters' lives.  While each of the characters are interesting in their own way, the character Taloche totez steals the show.  I enjoyed every moment that he was on the screen 'cause he's just so full of energy and good humor.  The humor, when used, was on! point!  The movie is chock-full of Gypsy music, one of my personal favorites, and it helps to keep the movie going.  Beautiful stuff.

While the coherence of the film is just slightly off, it certainly doesn't take away from enjoying the film. The setting, storyline, and timeframe of each scene jumps around and there are a lot of issues that get brought up but never resolved or even explained.  Still, it was absolutely beautiful to watch and the characters were so well portrayed that the lack of any in-depth analysis of just about anything can be overlooked.  The art direction was truly superb and there are certain shots that are just breath-taking.  Sure, it can be a little stereotypical and certainly a bit romanticized, but hey.. isn't that what we go to the movies for?

Watch it for Gypsy music, for beautiful cinematography, and certainly for entertaining and genuine characters.  Overall, I guess I'd give it a 8 out of 10.