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The Business of Fancydancing


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Product Details

  • Actors: Evan Adams, Michelle St. John, Gene Tagaban, Swil Kanim, Rebecca Carroll
  • Directors: Sherman Alexie
  • Writers: Sherman Alexie
  • Producers: Bradford Bond, Christy Cox, Craig Markey, Daniel Armstrong, John Benear
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: July 8, 2003
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000950WI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,641 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Business of Fancydancing" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New high-def transfer
  • Deleted scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes documentary
  • Production still gallery

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

While in college, Spokane Reservation best friends Aristotle and Seymour took different paths. Aristotle went back to "the rez," while Seymour began a new life for himself as an openly gay poet. Sixteen years later, the two are reunited, but mutual feelings of hurt and resentment stand in the way of their friendship.

Amazon.com

As seen in this ambitious low-budget feature, The Business of Fancydancing can be very tricky indeed. Shot on digital video, the directorial debut of novelist-poet Sherman Alexie is both profound and problematic, embracing the emotional legacy of Alexie's Native American heritage (and the rich layers of his literary work) while displaying the stylistic pitfalls of a first-time effort. What emerges, most effectively, is the bicultural identity crisis faced by many Native Americans--in this case a celebrated gay poet named Seymour (played by Evan Adams, costar of the Alexie-scripted Smoke Signals) whose ambitions transcend the "Rez" (reservation) where he was raised. Though occasionally hobbled by amateur performances, this is a deeply moving drama about reconciling one's birthright with a quest for new horizons, and Alexie poses difficult questions without settling on trite or convenient answers. For anyone who has ever felt removed from their cultural background, this Business offers a resonant ring of truth. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

The film has a wonderful pace and rhythm throughout.
Phil Rogers
There are so many messages in this movie and the Native American messenger carries messages for almost everyone who lives, breathes, and is human.
Mary Haunreiter
I wouldn't want to label it with any other Blockbuster label, but if I had to, I'd say it's a really, really Good Indian Movie about people.
barefoot rabbit

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By S. Stroshane on November 28, 2002
Although the pacing is choppy, "The Business of Fancydancing" is haunting and powerful. Successful poet Seymour Polatkin returns to his rez for a friend's funeral and faces harsh criticism for the way he used his people for his subjects, then abandoned them. Evan Adams as Seymour is humorous, sly, confused, and finally shattered by his choices. Strong performances by Gene Tagaban as Aristotle Joseph, who serves as Seymour's conscience, and Swil Kanim as Mouse, the mocking, witty friend who dies. He's also a superb violinist. Michele St. John shines as Seymour's early love interest and indigenous singer who has chosen to live on the rez.
Alexie mocks himself as he poses the question, "What's it like when you talk and white people listen?"
I recommend this film to anyone who wants to understand cultural disjointedness and search for self-identity.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 2003
Format: DVD
The first key is to first face the issues. Before you can do that you must admit these issues exist. Sherman helps bring these issues up front, in your face. I find in talking to people about this film, the ones that do NOT like it are homophobics. People also have a hard time watching two Indians beat up a white guy. But these things happen every day. We are not painted red men sitting on a pony. We are all human, and Sherman shows us in all our glory, pettiness, anger, desperation, and most private moments.
The interviewer was the woman I didn't like. I didn't "get" her purpose. In talking to my girlfriend she said we're not supposed to like her, that my girlfriend has seen white people talking to me in this manner. The interviewer is every non-Indian that wants to put the Indian in their place. Knowing this helps when you watch the movie.
I find Gene, Evan, Swil and Michelle breaking all the stereotypes. They are mixed blood, they are gay, they are recovering alcoholics, they are amazing musicians, teachers, and you want to love them for all they are and all they are not.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Phil Rogers on November 28, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It will probably be little known to many white folks who haven't spent a fair amount of time amongst the Native population or else on its fringes, but these depictions are pretty much mainstream. The way imagination, dream, and thoughts blend seamlessly with the "real-word" of flesh and stone, is telling, but closer to the intense world view that is here for the waking and dreaming.
The musical creativity was perfectly astounding, both the writing and performances/improvisations, ditto the sound editing, photography, and film editing. And the director used real people rather than trained actors - their stories thus meshed in a genuine way, exposing real native issues without even a hint of sugar-coating.
Some reviewers felt it was choppy - I experienced it as smooth. Sometimes the poetry was a bit unappealing, but that was, after all, part of what gave teeth to the story. The [perceived choppiness] might have been a response as part of the actuality of the rez experience and the "Indian' world view, along with the social interactivity of the personalities of Aristotle, Seymour, Mouse, and the rest. It's clearly not a defect of the screenwriting or the direction of the film. The film has a wonderful pace and rhythm throughout.
Yes, the content is intentionally disturbing - then again maybe not intentionally - in the sense that it's not a contrivance, it doesn't come off that way. It's more the way things could/would naturally move and develop given the circumstances - there's nothing even remotely implausible here.
An unstated theme is the way the scenes seem to reel around - so much like the experience of fancy dancing. This style of powwow dancing/costuming that was at its height around the time the principals in this story would have been coming of age.
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Pawl VINE VOICE on April 22, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Sherman Alexie, one of my favorite writers, wrote and directed a brilliant debut. The performances are moving and beautiful, and at the same time haunting. Alexie directed this like a composer would a beautiful, tragic suite. I found myself laughing and crying, and also thinking about the universal concept of identity while watching this film. It doesn't matter if you are from the Rez, or from NYC. Returning to your home after breaking away is hard for all of us--especially if rejection is inevitable.
I think this is definitely a groundbreaking film. I don't say this simply because Alexie is a Native writer, filmmaker, producer and director. I say this because the film is a brilliant examination of the human condition, done in an unaffected, realistic and straightforward way. What are we left with when we stand at the crossroads between two identities and cultures? Can we ever go back home?
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mary Haunreiter on January 17, 2004
Format: DVD
When I first started watching this film, I was not totally engaged in its early minutes and I wondered if I had bought a loser. This is the kind of movie that has to be watched from start to finish. There are so many messages in this movie and the Native American messenger carries messages for almost everyone who lives, breathes, and is human. Life on today's reservations, be it the Spokane or Pine Ridge in South Dakota is one of the America's dirty little secrets. Reservation residents don't live very long, do battle with alcoholism and die from depression, hopelessness and sorrow every day. Harsh truths that few people know about. In this movie we see the struggles of those who manage to leave the reservations, those that stay and those that try to return. Leaving the reservation is only part of the battle, living in the outside world is still tough and Seymour, the lead in this movie, is gay on top of all else. This is a powerful, powerful movie and some people won't want to hear what it has to say.
Michelle St. John gives a wonderful performance as a young woman of both white and native heritage. Another struggle as she returns to her native roots and environment. Michelle should sing more. She has an incredible voice, and an incredible, emotional delivery. Her music and that of Swil Kanim, the violinist, Mouse...are wonderful.
...buy the movie, buy the CD...its all good.
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