Posts Tagged ‘Kelly Reichardt’

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

“CERTAIN WOMEN” My rating: B-

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The cinematic minimalism practiced by writer/director Kelly Reichardt can be deceiving. Films like “Old Joy” and “Wendy and Lucy” creep up on you slowly…sometimes a bit of time has to pass before they set up shop inside a viewer’s head and a movie’s little moments coalesce into an overall feeling.

“Certain Women” is based on three Maile Meloy short stories, all set in a small burg in the Pacific Northwest and each concentrating on a woman struggling for a degree of independence and recognition. The stories  stand alone, but characters from one might pop up in a cameo role in another.

In the first a lawyer (Laura Dern) is called to help negotiate with a client (Jared Harris) whose workman’s compensation case is going nowhere. Now the poor schlub has taken extreme measures. He’s armed himself and invaded the offices of his former employer, taking a security guard hostage. The local sheriff wants the lawyer to get him to surrender.

In the second story a wife and mother (Michelle Williams) is pushing her foot-dragging husband (James Le Gros) to build a new family home on a few acres out in the woods. Much of the running time is devoted to her negotiations with a crusty old local (Rene Auberjonois) to acquire a pile of sandst0ne rocks that have been sitting in his rural front yard for at least 50 years.

In the third episode a loner stablehand (Lily Gladstone) becomes quietly obsessed with the new law school grad (Kristen Stewart) who weekly drives four hours each way to hold evening training sessions on education law for local public school teachers and administrators.


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Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgard...eco-terrorists

Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard…eco-terrorists

“NIGHT MOVES” My rating: B+ (Opening June 13 at the Cinetopia and AMC Studio)

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

For want of a better description, Kelly Reichardt’s films are often called “minimalist.” They are made simply, without a lot of technical razzle dazzle, and they concentrate on characters, not big effects.

But just because Reichardt eschews the big melodramatic moment doesn’t mean her films are emotionally barren. Her “Old Joy” was an aching study of two men on the brink of middle age who have outgrown their friendship. “Wendy and Lucy” will resonate with anyone who has loved a pet. And her Western “Meek’s Cutoff” was a harrowing tale of settlers lost on their journey through the Great American Desert.

“Night Moves” may be her most conventional film to date.  It’s a thriller, a genre with whose tropes we’re all familiar. And yet the gentle Reichardt touch is evident everywhere, with an emphasis on atmosphere and slowly building tension rather than big action set pieces.

In fact, the film’s biggest moment takes place off screen.


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MEEK’S CUTOFF”  My rating: B-

1:44 | Rated PG     

In her minimalist features “Old Joy” and “Wendy and Lucy,” filmmaker Kelly Reichardt quietly explored relationships among unremarkable individuals in contemporary America.

In “Meek’s Cutoff” she takes the same lightly-plotted approach with the members of a small wagon train slogging along the Oregon Trail in the 1840s.

“Meek’s,” which might be described as a proto-Western, is a daring change of pace, one that has a big payoff intellectually but less of one emotionally and narratively.

The three married couples that make up the tiny caravan are being led by Meek (more…)

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