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.