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Manito
Manito
Actors: Franky G, Leo Minaya, Manuel Cabral, Jessica Morales, Julissa Lopez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2005     1hr 17min

Directed by first time filmmaker Eric Eason, Manito is a riveting story of two brothers set against the volatile backdrop of a changing inner city. Shot in cinema verité style, Manito reflects a community when it transform...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Franky G, Leo Minaya, Manuel Cabral, Jessica Morales, Julissa Lopez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Coming of Age, Family Life
Studio: Film Movement
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 17min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Tragic story rings true. Sad but authentic and real.
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 11/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This 2002 film is set in the Hispanic community of Washington Heights in New York. It feels so authentic that I almost felt I was eavesdropping on a real-life situation happening in front of my eyes. It's about family and love and tragedy. And it's about bad things happening for no apparent reason.

The family is a troubled one. There's the older brother played by Franky G, who's trying his best to support his wife and young child by renovating apartments. He's a smooth talker and a ladies' man and, even though he hires illegals and alters his insurance certificate, we can still relate to him. Now, he needs money in order to make a High School graduation party for his younger brother, Manito, who has won a full scholarship to a good college.

Manito is played by Leo Minaya, He's rather shy and studious and very different from his older brother, who we learn had once been in jail. Manito is attracted to a classmate of his, Jessica Morales, who's a single mother and struggling to finish high school. He invites her to his graduation party and is happily surprised when she shows up.

The party is a huge success, in spite of the fact that the boys' father, who is a crack dealer, is not invited and there is an unpleasant scene. But there is much joy at the party and it seems very nice when Manito and the young lady seem to be starting a romance. Manito takes her home by subway. And that's when the trouble starts because some young toughs assault them and they have to run for their lives.

What happens next would be giving the plot away. But the story moves fast and the older brother gets involved. It all ends in a tragedy and a hopeless future for both of the young men.

The story is a good one and I was caught up in it entirely. Acting is excellent. All the actors seemed to be actually living this story and I felt I was watching real people instead of actors. I liked the way they went back and forth between English and Spanish - both languages coming easily to the younger generation. Everything about this film was very real.

The conclusion is sad, and yet I liked the fact that the filmmakers just let it end when it did. There would be no easy way out of their predicament. And I was left with the thought that life is often just like that.
"
It's worthy
Shelley H. | 04/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I say that this film is worthy because a while ago a film entered into Sundance and won an award, it was a guarantee I would enjoy it. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case now with movies I've bought or rented with the Sundance logo on them. However, Manito was definitely worth the accolades and praise. I loved how this film just grabbed me. From the moment Manny and his date are on the subway and the thugs enter the car they're in, my stomach was in knots. The film was so real I felt I was a standy witnessing the action instead of just watching it on television. Whoever did the casting for this movie did an excellent job of choosing the actors. Franky G brought such an intensity to this role that it was mind blowing. If anyone thinks he's just some hunky guy they will be proven wrong by his acting skills. I was warned that the movie kind of ends abruptly and it did. But I didn't get upset because it left it to my own imagination about what would happen next. As a previous reviewer stated, there was no easy wrap up for their situation anyway.

I'm glad I actually bought this movie for my collection instead of renting it. I will definitely want to watch this over and over.

Shelley Halima
Author of Azucar Moreno and Los Morenos"
Form and Function In Film Art
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"MANITO is a fine little independent film that does what few of the big movies have tried: the manner of shooting an intimate family film set in the ghetto atmosphere with a hand held camera gives it the immediacy and grit of the story far better than the expensive multicamera shoots of other similar tales with big budgets. Writer/director Eric Eason succeeds in inviting us, the outsiders as audience, to witness the machinations of a family at war with itself as though we were in the hall, at the window, or behind the wall. The result is a powerful, unpretentious little film with clout.

Manito (Leo Minaya) is the younger brother of Junior (Frankie G) who has succeeded in school and in social life in a way that eluded Junior. Junior is an ex-con (we learn later how unjust that title is) who is basically a ne'er-do-well womanizer, but still works hard to make a living for his wife and child. When Manito (or Manny) wins a scholarship on graduation, Junior is bound to celebrate his love for his little brother and his pride in Manny's achievements with a big party. The father of the boys is the poison that drives the potential celebration into a disaster in a manner that summarizes all that is evil in the environment in which the brothers have survived. The story ends in a tenor that leaves as many questions unanswered as it does in finalizing the tale.

Franky G is the only known actor among this talented but inexperienced cast. And despite the many small roles he has had serving as eye candy (and justly deserved!) for big movies, here he proves that he can indeed inhabit a role and give us a character who, despite his antisocial behavioral aspects, is a man we grow to love. The entire cast engages our attention as a verismo experience and witnessing the trials and smiles of this family sheds a warmer light on the Hispanic than most of the big movies afford. We doubtless - and hopefully - will be hearing and seeing more from Eric Eason. Grady Harp, February 06"
Compelling storytelling . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 12/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a fine film by just about any standard. It has a story to tell about living in Latino New York, and what it has to say is about family, community, and a kind of desperate heroism. The central character, Junior, (Franky G) is a fiercely determined man with a criminal record trying to hold the generations of his family together, even while compromising his commitment to his wife and maintaining a long-held rage against a father who once betrayed him. The title character, Manito, is his younger brother, who on the day of his graduation from high school represents the aspirations of the entire family to rise above its current social and economic position. A nerve-jangling crisis throws that all into jeopardy.

Shot on a shoestring in all of the five boroughs of New York, as the director Eric Eason reveals in the DVD commentary, the film is set in Washington Heights. Making use of handheld cameras throughout, the film has a strong, documentary feel, and the editing keeps the story careening forward, often truncating scenes as soon as we get the gist of them. Meanwhile, Franky G's physical presence in the film gives it momentum and energy of yet another kind. A gem of independent filmmaking that upholds the Sundance tradition of providing a showcase for new and original talents."