Well, I guess the title speaks for itself. While watching cooking shows on my local PBS stations, I’ve seen promos for these movies that are based on Tony Hillerman novels. I’m pretty well ignorant of present day Native American culture, so I’m wondering if some knowledgeable Dopers can spoil these movies for me. I’ve seen a couple of movies such as Smoke Signals and the Doe Boy, which were really good. Does anyone have recommendations for other movies like this? Thanks for any observations.
I enjoyed reading Hillerman’s books. I haven’t seen any of the movies, so can’t comment there.
I hope the movies don’t disappoint.
I taped Coyote Waits last weekend but haven’t watched it yet. I was quite disappointed by the first effort, Skinwalkers, by the same team. The changes made to the plot didn’t bother me so much, but they almost totally changed the Joe Leaphorn character. My sense from the novels (I’ve read them all) is that while Leaphorn is extremely analytical in his approach to life as well as crime solving, in no way is he divorced from or a stranger to the Navaho culture and traditions. The made-for-TV version of Leaphorn in Skinwalkers is played as a clueless outsider.
I didn’t enjoy Coyote as much as I did the book.
I thought Leaphorn was older.
I read a few of the books, but felt they got repetitious after 4 or 5.
Watched Coyote Waits a week ago. Had missed Shinwalkers and heard afterwards that it was really good. Was not impressed with CW. Acting and dialogue seemed a little off. Not sure how much of the dialogue was from the book or screenwriters. Scenery was beautiful.
This week when Sw was on, I passed.
My husband doesn’t read Hillerman, but he recorded Coyote Waits because he likes several of the actors. He thought it was good enough that he’s recording one of the repeats of Skinwalkers this week.
I watched about five minutes in the middle of Coyote, and wasn’t terribly impressed, mostly because the dialog and pacing had kind of a funny rhythm. It could be that if I’d watched the movie from the beginning and been immersed in the tone and the story I would have been groovin’ with it, though.
To begin with, I really enjoy Hillerman’s books as does my wife. If anything, she enjoys them even more than I.
Now, that being said, my wife enjoys the PBS movies with reservations (sorry about the pun) and I don’t enjoy them. Her statement is “They’re pretty good. I enjoyed them for the most part.”
Part of if may be that we have read the novels (and some of the short stories) on which they are based and that can put one off an actor’s characterazition. Other examples are: We hated the newest incarnation of Peter Whimsy and were not crazy about Jeremy Brett as Holmes (I know that is a sin to some).
Both my wife and I agree with Moe’s Lotion and Carnivorousplant’s analysis of Leaphorn. I was also a bit uncomfortable because he is clearly not Navajo. This probably doesn’t bother people who haven’t lived around the four-corners area, but it does me. It’s like someone with an English accent saying he’s Irish on a television program.
Chee while better does not seem as introspective as he is drawn by Hillerman. I get the feeling that the script guy and director want him to be something of the action hero of the shows.
Finally (and I know this is so picky as to be childish, but it does bother me) the tribal cop cars are too clean. There is no way that a car is as clean as those cars are in the four-corners area (even if you have inmates cleaning them everytime you bring them in). The dust in the four-corners is omnipresent. It coats everything. Except when it rains then its mud. In the shows those cars are so clean so regularly as to be down right silly. I’m sure it is a continuity thing. It’s easier to keep them completely clean rather than match the dirt from scene to scene, but it doesn’t work for me.
I only read one of the books and I liked it but the two PBS movies were awful. I wanted to like them but the acting and dialogue were just terrible.
Haven’t read any of the books, but as a PBS junkie, I watched “Coyote” and wanted to like it, but it just plain stunk. It had nearly as many meaninless plot twists as a David Lynch (that asshole!) project. Pace was slow and the whole “Navajo Way” thing was pretty heavy-handed. In the end, I just felt like I wasted an hour and a half of my life.
The scenery was nice.
She told me she loved me like a brother. She was from Arkansas, hence the Joy!
My wife is a major Hillerman fan (I’ve read only three or four), and we tried to watch Skinwalkers when it first aired, but the changes to the characters drove her crazy and we turned it off after ten minutes. We didn’t bother with Coyote Waits.
<jaw drops> Jeepers. I wonder whose decision that was?!? How did they handle his being married to such a traditionalist wife?
Wow! Thanks for all your responses. I’ve seen Adam Beach in Smoke Signals and Wes Studi in Last of the Mohicans and thought they were both really good. By the way, Wes Studi can be very intimidating.
I’ll agree that there were problems with Coyote Waits and Skinwalkers, but I’ve watched movies in the theaters with more expensive price tags that I’ve hated. I’ve enjoyed the answers I’ve received so far, but I would still like to get recommendations for other good movies about present day native american people.
Thunderheart was pretty good.
Regarding movies you might want to check out, try to get ahold of Pow Wow Highway. Gary Farmer, who was in Smoke Signals, is one of the main characters.
Thanks, moes lotion. I’ll look into that.