Mixed Media Film Roundup

Film reviews

| January / February 2006

Trudell (Appaloosa Pictures)

Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action (Katahdin Productions)

He's one of the icons of the civil rights movement. So where's the love? No one has named a building after John Trudell or even written a proper biography of him (unless you count the FBI's 17,000-page dossier). But better late than never, Trudell receives proper tribute with Heather Rae's admiring Trudell. More than a dozen years in the making, this documentary features rare clips (Trudell, a Vietnam vet, was a fiery spokesman of the American Indian Movement), performances (now a spoken-word artist, Trudell is one of Bob Dylan's favorite musicians), and interviews. Cayuga actor Gary Farmer calls Trudell 'our Socrates' -- the truth-teller not everyone is ready to hear.

A new generation of Native activists have followed Trudell's path, and Roberta Grossman profiles five of them in her award-winning Homeland. Gail Small (Northern Cheyenne), Evon Peter (Gwich'in), Barry Dana (Penobscot), and Rita and Mitchell Capitan (Navajo) all struggle to fend off the toxic-waste dumping, strip mining, and drilling that have contaminated their reservations. Homeland is the story of a U.S. tragedy -- multinational companies doing their deadly work in Native peoples' backyards -- and of the brave few who stand up to combat it. -- Jason Silverman

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Picturehouse)

A clever and wildly funny take on the 'behind the scenes' genre, Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story is the latest film from one of the most versatile directors working today. Rather than a straight adaptation of Laurence Sterne's novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Winterbottom, screenwriter Martin Hardy, and the brilliant cast have made a film about the making of a film of the novel. Not your typical inside joke-laden, onanistic self-referential exercise, Tristram Shandy is a sharp send-up of moviemaking and features a comedic performance for the ages by leads Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. -- Mark Rabinowitz

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