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Best of 2002: Movies, Books, Music.
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Saturday, October 05, 2002

Since I’d seen everything else currently showing in the neighborhood (not so hard since the Broadway Market cinema closed its doors, sob), on Friday night we went to see Skins, a movie I’d eschewed at this year’s SIFF.

It’s a Native movie, directed by Chris Eyre, who helmed (as they say in Variety) Smoke Signals. I enjoyed it overall—the themes are so powerful that even weak acting and a lack of gray tones couldn’t drain its emotional impact. Like rez life, the movie was a bit of a mess—raising issues then just leaving them floating in the air.

The actors I’d seen before have all done stronger work elsewhere—Eric Schweig was great in Big Eden (the opening night movie of the 2000 SGLFF); Graham Greene is awesome in about half the stuff he appears in and mails in his other performances; and Tina Keeper (Michelle from North of 60) looked drawn and much older than her years (again, probably typical of folks living on the Pine Ridge Reservation). Weirdly enough, the two movies I saw this week (Punch-Drunk Love and Skins) both featured a lot of amateur actors. In Skins, it was easy to see why Chris Eyre wanted to use first nations people in the film, but I wasn't quite so clear why Paul Thomas Anderson chose to do so in P-DL.

Despite my gripes, I was grateful to see even a fictional depiction of Native life in the shadow of Mount Rushmore. A lot of Skins deals with alcoholism. A couple of weeks ago we spent the weekend on the Makah Nation. Like most tribal lands, they have very strict rules barring alcohol, but when we went to the beach there were guests at a wedding swigging beer and the parking lot of the Makah Maiden diner was littered with cans.

While looking at the Skins Web site, I noticed that Chris Eyre did a “Rolling Rez Tour,” taking a mobile cinema to Indian land all over America. Right on!