Manito | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Two brothers--one a high school senior, the other an ex-con trying to go straight--struggle to keep their balance in the melting pot of Upper Manhattan's Latino neighborhood in this impressive debut feature by writer-director Eric Eason. Scorsese's Mean Streets has become the template for all such fraternal low-life dramas, and while this one lacks the earlier film's narrative drive, Eason captures with graphic realism the male rivalry, manic tensions, and social aspirations of a New York ethnic enclave. The confused younger brother and the shadowy drug-dealing father who abandoned the family may border on caricature, but Franky G.'s performance as the protective yet combustible older brother is as real as it gets. 78 min. On the same program, A Shy Voice in a Hollow Concert (2001, 12 min.), a Venezuelan film by Claudia Pinto. Biograph, Sunday, April 7, 6:30, and Tuesday, April 9, 9:15.

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