One thing that I’ve really been struck by is Hollywood’s near-obsession with American Indians. I have very mixed feelings about it.

The natives in “Avatar” were an extremely obvious allegory for the Indians of the America West. “Avatar” was very corny and hokey … and pretty predictable. It’s also unabashably “love the Mother Earth” granola bar liberal, but I guess I don’t see the harm in that — not when so many movies have bad messages — especially in light of the fact that the theatre was packed with boisterous little kids who don’t realize it’s corny and hokey.

I’ve always thought Hollywood does a really poor job of portraying Indians, because it tries much too hard to be politically correct and has a tendency to “hold the Red Man down,” so to speak by putting him up on a pedestal as a “noble savage.” Indians are people, with all the strengths and flaws as any person, regardless of ethnicity.

Being Metis, the “noble savage” stuff is very much a sore point with me. Seriously, as a non-tribal member Indian, there are a number of cringe-worthy moments for me in “Dances with Wolves” and in “Thunderheart” and more movies than I can name. I can only think of one movie I’ve ever seen that I thought did a  solid job of portraying Indians and Indian issues — “Smoke Signals,” and that was a limited release movie that not many people have seen. I also thought “Flags of my Fathers” did a good job with the story about Ira, though whenever the movie drifted away from Ira’s character, I thought it got boring. Someone once told me “The Jim Thorpe Story” actually had some good moments, but I’ve never seen it. As an aside, if you want to read an awesome book about Indians, you really need to check out “The Real All-Americans” by Sally Jenkins (she wrote “It’s Not About the Bike.”) It’s a fantastic book about the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and how it became a power in college football.

Anyway, I saw a lot of kids today get some good lessons along with their popcorn … while seeing $400 million of special effects blow lots of crap up.

Oh, and now my kid wants a dragon. Not one of the little blue ones, but the big red one….

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AlphaBitch
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AlphaBitch

Pepe: where in MT do you live? (If that’s not too personal). I used to drive from Seattle to San Antonio each year; always loved Missoula, not so much Butte (had a bad experience there once – plus I saw a billboard advertising “Coldest Beer, Cheapest Too!” right next to the campground I had planned on staying at). The Bitteroots were my fave.

I keep trying to get the hub to do another trek up that way, for old times sake, while we CAN still drive. I used to have a truck, and would crawl in the back to sleep. I once saw – while driving across MT at about 3AM – a huge old porcupine, lumbering across the interstate. What I loved was being able to turn off the truck, and just watch it in my headlights, with no other cars coming/going. Perfect peace! and watching the sunrise in Wyoming as I drove……ah, that was bliss for sure!

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Tiger99
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As long as we are mentioning other movies these 2 are among my favorites “A Man Called Horse” and “Last Of The Dogmen”…

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kesmarn
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Haven’t seen Avatar yet, but one thing it really has going for it already, with me, is the fact that the pseudo-Christian right wing absolutely hates it. That’s equal to five stars, two thumbs up, and a couple of Oscars…

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KevenSeven
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Haven’t seen Avatar yet, and I’m really in no hurry. I probably will get a screener in the mail soon. Julie and Julia just came.

But I heard some of my fave critics comparing Avatar to District 9, which I have seen, and they uniformly preferred District 9.

Which was a pretty damn good movie.

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nellie
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The guilt-ridden, overly romanticized movies that Hollywood makes about American Indians are probably an attempt to atone for the slander of classic westerns like Red River. Yes, I can get bitter over this subject.

Hollywood does a dismal job of portraying American Indians mostly because it doesn’t bother to get the facts right. Much less the culture (for whatever group they happen to be portraying). Every story is so contrived. And no one seems to ever bother to talk to a Native person before putting a script together! It’s very frustrating. Films with a Native sensibility are very different from blockbuster Hollywood fare. Smoke Signals is a good one. Dance Me Outside is also good.

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escribacat
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Pepe, I think we talked about Smoke Signals before, didn’t we? Based on the book by Sherman Alexie. I was thinking about going to see this but now I’m not so sure I’ll waste my nine bucks!

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whatsthatsound
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I have always loved the Grandfather character, Old Lodge Skins, played by Chief Dan George, in “Little Big Man”. That is a great, and overlooked, black comedy about how the West was “won”.
Dustin Hoffman is his usually great self.

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Tiger99
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Chief Dan George was great in The Outlaw Josy Wales too…

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escribacat
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One of my favorite movies.

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javaz
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I forgot about that movie and that is one of my favorites!
I love the scene with Faye Dunaway giving Dustin Hoffman a bath, plus the gay Indian and then the one that did everything backwards and then the snake oil salesman that kept losing body parts.
Oh, we’re going to have to watch that again soon!

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whatsthatsound
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It’s a classic! DH was on a roll back then, with The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy, etc.

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Emerald1943
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My ex-hubby is a dead ringer for DH! What a cutie-pie! 🙂 But looks ain’t everything!

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AlphaBitch
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AlphaBitch

Agreed! I’m amazed anyone remembers Little Big Man, but I was taking an anthropology course (Native Americans) and we went as a class to go see it. My prof had lived for years amongst the Inuit, and he liked the movie. Waiting for Senor LePew’s review…..

The Graduate on list of top 10 faves of all times.

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whatsthatsound
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I don’t get why it seems to have fallen out of the discussion of great films.
Like javaz, I love the bathing scene. The pompous preacher, Faye’s husband, comes in and says, “Haven’t you finished scrubbing that boy yet? I’m hungry!”

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AlphaBitch
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AlphaBitch

Thanks for the review, Pepe! My husband wants to see the movie; me, not so much.

What did you think of Little Big Man? One of my favorite movie lines of ALL times was when the chief laid down to die, then started blinking when the rain pelted his face. “Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.” I think that sums it ALL up for me.

PS Thanks for the word “Asshat”. I’ve used it more than I had imagined!

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whatsthatsound
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Wow! Kismet!

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javaz
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Have you ever seen ‘The Last of the Mohicans?’
I’m not sure how accurate the movie is, but it did follow the book by James Fenimore Cooper.
What about ‘Code Talkers?’
That was a fairly good movie all in all.

I’ve read other critiques about ‘Avatar’ and others have compared it to ‘Dances with Wolves’ and said it should be named ‘Dances with Aliens.’

What did you think of the special effects?
Was the 3-D any good or typical 3-D?
Did you see it at an IMAX theater or regular?

I’ve read if you’re not going to see it at an IMAX screen, and want to wait for the DVD, not to bother.

What do you think?

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