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Skins
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  • Review of Skins
    This is a modern Native American story, and we Americans MUST step up and take respondsability for the social problems of the modern Native Americans because over the last 300 years we have made today's problems...more info
  • ~Real life drama's~
    Take a walk inside the Pine Ridge Rez and visit the devastating effects of alcohol and hopelessness. Graham Greene turns in a top rate performance here as a Native Veteran who has slowly poisioned himself with alcohol and the effect it has on brother ( Eric Schwig) and his son. Excellent movie with indept character studies, don't miss this one....more info
  • Not the Lakota way.
    It's sad that this movie had to dwell on the negative stereotypes of our reservation life. It was also sad if not pitiful that the cop portrayed by Schweig had to commit a cowardly sneak attack on two drunken teenagers and break their knees with a baseball bat, then he sneaks down to White Clay, again like a cowardly thief in the night, and throws gas on a package store, and setting it on fire, almost kills his own brother. Then, as his final insult, again at night, he sneaks up on Mt. Rushmore and defaces the sculptured image of George Washington, the Father of our Country.

    These are definetely not the Lakota Way. The Lakota Way is Akicita wicaya wastelo! - the Way of the Good, Manly Warrior! to be strong and in your face and not sneaking around like a snivelling little coward. I would have hoped that these actors would have known better - to portray Lakotas as people with pride and dignity. But then they are probably not Lakotas. Also, to deface Mt. Rushmore was a hideous act; the Lakota take great pride in being American Veterans and the Flag is Honored at all of our Powwows....more info
  • A very revealing film
    I recently saw this film and must say that it has become one of my all-time favorite movies, solely for the realisitic portrayal it gives of today's reservations.

    Contrary to the report given by an earlier reviewer, Pine Ridge is in SOUTH Dakota, not North. I grew up in South Dakota nearly all my life, and I taught at an Indian school. I saw, sometimes first hand, what the reservation life entailed, and it was depressing. This movie does a good job of encompassing one of the reservation's most prevalent threats at this time: alcoholism.

    I've been a fan of Graham Greene ever since Dances With Wolves, although I don't consider that movie a stellar example of historically accurate film making.

    For the past few years, I've read about the debate regarding the liquor stores in White Clay, NE. Although I realize that those people may be making a tidy profit off the Indians in Pine Ridge, people must realize that alcoholics will drive ANY distance to get their booze -- White Clay and further. You cannot blame the store owners for providing the booze. You're blaming the wrong people.

    For those who don't see the significance of the bear trap scene: I think it is a statement about the current climate of the reservations, the way native people turn against each other in today's depressing reservations. The alcoholism has brought in crime and distrust among the people of the reservations, and it's startling to see the decline.

    I gave this film 4 out of 5 stars only because I found the scenes with the main character (Eric Schweig) having an affair as distracting and not relevant. It seems to me as if there should have been more to that story, but there wasn't.

    All in all, I would highly recommend this story to anyone interested in Native American history, or in the history of the United States in general....more info

  • A messy movie with a powerfully-packed message
    My thoughts are torn over "Skins," one of the few films to chronicle the sad, wasted lives of Native Americans and the bloody history that has informed the misfortunes of nearly an entire culture.

    Directed by Chris Eyre, the movie undeniably has powerful scenes, not the least of which is the closing image, which involves a debasement of Mount Rushmore.

    For me, the lasting image from "Skins" is the sight of a local (Gary Farmer) killed by a bear trap set by neighbors. A disbelieving reservation cop (Eric Schwieg) wants an explanation for it -- the bear trap, why nobody answered the obvious calls for help -- and there is none. Not plausible, anyway. So many of the Natives' problems have their roots in something, whether it be a history of abuse or lack of opportunities, but they do not justify much of the mindlessness that has invaded the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

    Eyre knows that, and to prove his point he makes that cop, Rudy Yellow Lodge, a vigilante who beats criminals and burns down Nebraska liquor shops in his off hours. His efforts, essentially, are just as fruitless as anything else: The drunks still get drunk, the reservation remains mostly hopeless, and the brutal past cannot be changed.

    Which brings me to the other side of my thoughts: "Skins," while powerful, is poorly made. The editing, the documentary-style camerawork, some of the acting -- it's simply left wanting. Given the subject matter on the table, the absolute dead-in-the-eye importance of it, it probably sounds like quibbling to criticize production values. Nevertheless, I mention it, because it stands in the way of a better film. You look at "The Fast Runner," an amazing achievement shot on a similar small budget in far harsher conditions, and you get an idea of what "Skins" is lacking. "The Fast Runner" is a masterpiece film generations will return to. Some have hailed "Skins" that way, and it'd be nice if that were true, but the proof isn't on the print.

    When "Skins" does work, it's usually because Graham Greene is onscreen. Greene is Rudy's older brother, Mogie, a relentless-if-remorseful drunk, a failed promise apparently wrecked by a tour in Vietnam. He ambles around the package stores just across the border in Nebraska when he's not working his brother into a frenzy; the fun ends when Rudy torches a liquor store while Mogie's inside trying to left some booze.

    That happens at the halfway point, and "Skins" then shifts into nothingness. The bear trap scene aside, not a lot happens in the movie's final half -- Rudy and Mogie acknowledge the big fire, but never work themselves up over it, while Mogie tries to make peace with his teenage son (Noah Watts). Basically, the last 30 minutes are an elongated "final days" sequence for Greene.

    The final scene is the attention-getter most remember. I admit, it's well-conceived, but the execution of it is amateurish. If you understand editing, you'll wonder why, when the movie's only amazing camera shot is revealed, this shot lasts, at most, two seconds. It aptly sums up "Skins," a movie with a lot to say, and poor visual strategies in which to tell it....more info

  • From Dances with Wolves to Wallowing in Beer!
    Graham Greene was cast in the role of a Lakota (Sioux) Shaman in "Dances with Wolves" with Kevin Costner. The chemistry between Graham and Kevin made the movie what it was, a classic tale about Native Americans. They were a magnificent culture that was crushed needlessly by the migration of Whites to the west. Hundreds of treaties were made and then broken by greedy Whites, resulting in numerous reservations. Graham plays "Mogie" in the movie "Skins," and once again there is the same chemistry between Graham and the lead role of Rudy Yellow Lodge, played by Eric Schweig. Both roles are played in a compelling manner. It is the type of gutsey, independent, outside of Hollywood films that I love. Mogie is a decorated Viet Nam veteran in process of drinking himself to death on what is called the "rez," the Pine Ridge Reservation next to Mount Rushmore and the Custer Monument. Reservation life involves harsh poverty, high unemployment, substance abuse and .... worse yet, Lakota versus Lakota violence. The uncomfortable question this movie poses to its audience is what do you do to rehabilitate a once noble culture after a crushing history of genocide. Or more to the point, support a culture to rehabilitate itself. Lakota actors and actresses making Lakota theme movies is an important step in the right direction.Despite the lack of "polish" afforded to high budget Hollywood movies, I would give "Skins" five stars on pure guts alone. It is a statement the wider White culture desperately needs to consider. The statement is well worth the five stars also. America would do well to learn from such people of the earth who have lived in oneness with nature without pollution for thousands of years. Whatever Graham wants to dance with or wallow in for future movies will probably be well worth the price, as he is a veteran actor at the top of his game. I am also hoping to see Eric again in similar movies....more info
  • Because we need to see Native Americans
    Prior to Columbus, there were 100M Native Americans. Today, there are less than 3M, but their cultures are still alive and thriving.

    "Skins" is the first movie filmed on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Pine Ridge is in the shadow of Mount Rushmore and Wounded Knee is part of the preserve. There are no 'set pieces' on this reservation. Yes, it looks like a Third World Country, because that is precisely what it is. Listen to the statistics at the front of this movie.

    The story is old as time. Two brothers, Mogie (Greene), the fallen warrior didn't come back quite right from Vietnam. Wounded three times, he spends his time drinking away the memories, but he's still kept his love of family and sense of humor. The younger brother Rudy (Schweig) is a reservation cop and a vigilante. When Rudy tries to help the res by burning a white-owned liquor store on US lands, he ends up accidentally injuring his brother.

    The story's told with stark detail and empathy by Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) who is also a Native American--as are most of the cast and crew. The writer, Adrian C. Lewis, is also a Native American who believed the story needed to be told.

    Don't stop watching at the end of the film. Aftward, the cast and crew get together to talk about their roles in the film and their Native American beliefs. One of the things they mentioned is how difficult the filming was, but the cast and crew burned sage and meditated every day. I think the love and effort every person put into this film clearly shows.

    In addition to this, see:

    The Powwow Highway (Contemporary Fiction, Plume)

    Rebecca Kyle, July 2008...more info
  • should make you laugh and cry
    Tremendous movie;too bad most people will never see it.This movie portrays life as it really is for many natives on the reservation-not life at all but an existence.This movie is about as accurate as I've seen portraying the reality of the problems of Native Americans.The portrayal of drunks pathetically hanging in front of the liquor store I've seen in reality in Utah and Wyoming.This is a must see movie.If you think you're doing badly,this is a solid reminder that some people live a lifetime worse than most people's worst days.They are a proud people that aren't looking for your sympathy-but they'd appreciate awareness....more info
  • Thoughtful, uncomfortable and sad. But I learned a lot.
    This 2002 film takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota. It's a sad place, steeped in poverty and alcoholism. The camera brings us into the dilapidated homes and shows us the barren terrain. And the Director, Chris Eyre, has wisely chosen an all-Native cast. Don't be fooled by their Anglican sounding names. They're all Indians, either from America or Canada.

    The story is about two brothers in their late forties. One is a cop and the other is a burnt-out alcoholic who sometimes thinks he's still in Vietnam. Flashbacks show their abusive childhood and their dependence on one another. The storyline shows us how Eric Schweig, cast as the cop brother, helps his brother over and over again. Graham Greene is cast as the alcoholic and even though we see him mostly drunk and creating chaos for everyone, get to know him as a real person with hopes and dreams and missteps along the way.

    We learn about life on the reservation and the history of the massacre at Wounded Knee. And we also learn why the Mt. Rushmore carving of the four American presidents is so upsetting to the Indians who see rocks as sacred. As the story moves along, we see the cop brother become a vigilante and solve a murder investigation. Later, he sets a liquor store on fire. When his brother is burned in the fire, the story comes to a pivotal point and we get a glimpse of the unwavering love of the brothers for each other and the sense of family in the entire community.

    This is a thoughtful movie that's a bit uncomfortable to watch. It left me sad and pensive. And yet it taught me something too. Recommended....more info

  • Chris Eyre: SKINS (We have a winner!!!!)
    Skins is powerful.... Graham Greene is wonderful. Skins is a story not only of the disintegration and degredation of a once powerful people, but a story of two brothers rocky relationship with each other. Mogie, (Graham Greene) is the stereotypical "drunk indian" portrayed PERFECTLY by Greene. Graham... you are Oscar worthy for this one! Eric Schweig plays his straight edged, save the rez-from itself, policeman brother (Rudy),that is disgusted by what his brother has become- not to mention the monotonous domestic violence calls he gets due to drug abuse and alcoholism on the reservation.

    Chris Eyre has intecritly drawn it together to make sense to all people. I saw Smoke Signals, and I can definately tell that Eyre has matured in his directing ability. I dont think Smoke Signals was half the movie of Skins.

    There was some less than perfect camera angles and the end was a little abrupt. Its almost like Eyre lost his focus a few times- in other words, storys would just stop when they got started. (like the murdered man in the beartrap... I expected to hear more about that??) I think I understand why he did that though, he was trying to show bits and pieces of all the tragedies of reservation life to give Rudy a reason to go on his vigilante rampage, at least thats what I think. Possibly, he wanted to show such a variety of unlawfullness that Rudy was turned into something of a reservation superhero, only to backfire when he almost kills his brother in one of his escapades.

    All in all, this movie was touching in one aspect, rough in another, funny in bits and pieces, moving all the way through, and most importantly... real. Keep up the good work Chris!...more info

  • Touching story
    If you loved 'Smoke Signals', you'll love this touching story as well. Two brothers have their own separate, yet similar, struggles as they cope with the poverty and loss of hope their people has had to endure for years on the Pine Ridge Reservation (actually filmed on the Reservation). One brother sinks into a bottle of booze while brother Rudy, a police officer who becomes more and more frustrated, begins to try to solve his people's problems on his own. I loved the flashbacks of Native American photos and details of spirit and myth, as well as the touches of humor in the face of despair. A very touching tale that really opens ones eyes to the struggles of Native Americans.

    Chrissy K. McVay
    Author of 'Souls of the North Wind'...more info
  • possibly one of my favorite movies
    I really liked this movie because it reminded me of experiences in my life and I felt that everything that was done in bringing the experience to film was accurate and done respectfully to the content. This is a fine film that may be hard to watch, definitely not one to watch with the kids, but well worth it....more info