May 05, 2011

"Meandering jumble" in Last Buffalo Hunt

The Last Buffalo Hunt

By Dennis HarveyDocumentarian Lee Anne Schmitt says "The Last Buffalo Hunt" isn't about hunting buffalo, but rather "the image of the American West, questioning the authenticity of our myths and the foundations of our frontier ideology." That sounds good in press interviews, but what's onscreen is a meandering jumble that's unpleasantly vivid when portraying hunting tourism in modern-day Utah. Pic otherwise channels historical errata and vague disapproval toward a mythic West's degeneration. Hitting smugly superior notes at times, yet thematically opaque, docu will score further fest dates but struggle for broadcast exposure, partly due to graphic footage of animal gutting.And:Shots of cheesy audio-animatronic mannequins at historical "museums" (aka gift shops) and ever-waving Old Glory convey a sense not of the American Dream's sorrowful degradation, but rather of contempt for those being portrayed. That would be fine if Schmitt (whose producer Lee Lynch gets a co-creator credit) had the courage to actually lay out a directorial, even political perspective.

But "Hunt" feigns observational neutrality even as it chooses to amplify and exploit ugly behavior. Shot over six years' course, it suggests we're simply watching Albrecht's "last" hunting season and its aftermath instead. Once his thread ends, the shapeless pic needlessly extends itself with footage of another hunt someplace else, involving people never even identified.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See the film before you give it a bad review, taking the side of a critic. I saw the film in San Francisco. It's a very smart and political film.