Saturday, February 18, 2012

Powwow Highway

Jonathan Wacks, 1989 (8.2*)
This is a funny modern Native American film that also has some points to make about the survival of N.A. traditions in the modern era, and how some manage to walk with a foot in two different eras.

A Martinez (born Adolph) plays Buddy Red Bow, struggling against persecution and greedy capitalist developers to keep his people independent on a Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. His friend Philbert (Ed Farmer), follows and espouses Native American wisdom and lore wherever he find it, sometimes on tv or in the movies. His war pony, is a beat-up, barely running Buick.

Buddy's sister Bonnie (Joanelle Nadine Romero) has been arrested in Santa Fe, so much of this movie involves a road trip from Montana to New Mexico as he and Philbert set off to look after kids and get her out of jail (one way or another). Philbert's faith challenges Buddy's cynical and sometimes violent view of the world.

This film really deals with the realities and dreams of being Cheyenne in the modern, techology controlled US, and manages to make us laugh along the way. As road trip films go, it’s one of the best. As films about modern Native American life, it's one of a handful of must-see films, along with Smoke Signals (1998).


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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