I thought I was a big fan of Kelly Reichardt, yet after looking at her IMDB page, I realize this is a false claim based on only 3 films: her BEGINNING film “River of Grass” (looking to buy this, it’s a keeper, will explain below), her MIDDLE film “Wendy and Lucy” and her latest (EN-?), “Certain Women” last night at Burns Court in Sarasota.
First, her first:) RIVER OF GRASS is bar none, the penultimate Florida film. It’s funny, subversive and is so right on with the kookiness of all that Florida is, that I honestly don’t think any other movie could top it. Why it didn’t gain traction for a re-do with bigger celebrities and bigger budget is beyond me. In fact, it’s so timeless, it could be re-done today. It’s what Caddy Shack is to golf courses.
Her middle film, WENDY AND LUCY was very different. Akin to an uninhibited middle schooler (aka RIVER OF GRASS)
[or me at 52 after a large coffee on email..sometimes stepping over the (tacitly marked) line…]
who takes a high schooler nose dive into moody introspection, came her middle film WENDY AND LUCY. I don’t think I fully appreciated this quiet descent at the time, but looking back, the film had a memorable milieu and considering how many films I’ve seen, is saying something. And for dog lovers, which I am not, I’m sure it would resonate more. In addition, Michelle Williams, a terrific actress, was stellar as a homeless person.
The latest Reichardt invention CERTAIN WOMEN (screenplay/director based on stories by Maile Meloy) was even more quiet than “Wendy and Lucy”‘s Malick-like quiet mixed with Ackerman’s redundancy: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C07E0DA143BF930A15750C0A965948260.
I didn’t mind this either, especially after a very chatty work day; my only need was a satisfying ending. But as Jimmy Olsen once lamented in an old Superman episode, “Oh, nobody got the money.”
Once again, Michelle Williams does fantastic work (biased here of course, loved her in Blue Valentine, and saw her live on Broadway with Jeff Daniels in “Blackbird”). Williams’ range and evocative facial expressions is of DeCaprio’s Revenant caliber. Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart were equally great as a miserable small town lawyers, and a relative newbie, Lily Gladstone was tremendous as a ranch hand.
I can’t say who didn’t get the money to be true to my no spoilers. If you need quiet, love Montana and great cinematography, you will be cinematically nourished. For me, once I finish the novel Nicotine by Nell Zink, Truman’s bio by McCullough, I may hunt down Maile Meloy’s short stories to see if there’s more to be mined.