Reichardt. I, and many others, didn’t catch Kelly Reichardt’s 1994 debut River of Grass so when Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy came along in the mid to late 2000’s we thought it was the arrival of a new voice in indie cinema. Meet’s Cutoff in 2010 confirmed that status—a spare, minimal western with clear artistic ambition even if Reichardt’s quiet, patient style may test some. Her strength here is those two films- Wendy and Lucy is rare triumph, and Meek’s Cutoff isn’t far behind. I’ll get to it more in the underrated/overrated section but Reichardt is just now finally starting to get the attention she deserves as she now has four films that land in the top 10 of their year on the TSPDT consensus—so for her it is more about the accumulation of her work.
Best film: Wendy and Lucy. I owe Meek’s Cutoff another, closer look but I think the answer here is still pretty clearly Wendy and Lucy. It’s the first of three (to date) pairings between Reichardt and Michelle Williams, had a dedication to a color palette, and is a rather important film in the lineage of cinematic realism.
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Wendy and Lucy)
most overrated: Not one for Reichardt. She has three films from 1001-2000 on the TSPDT consensus list: Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, and Meek’s Cutoff and Certain Women has bubbled up now to hover around the #10 slot for 2016 on the TSPDT 21st century
most underrated : It’s not a travesty yet because 2008 is so fresh but it’s time Wendy and Lucy be admitted to the normal top #1000 list on TSPDT.
gem I want to spotlight : Certain Women
- I feel much better about it with a second visit. Reichardt’s approach is minimal but intelligent and nuanced. She’s capturing a snapshot in these 3 (or 4 if you count Stewart)’s lives—these are people, women, in the “middle” so to speak.
- Another tale set in the Northwest where setting (train to open, mountains, ranch, native americans in mall in Billings), are very much a character in the film
- Patience and dedramatizing big moments
- The 16mm graininess works with this approach as well
- Tales of women- Jared Harris’ character ignores Dern for months and then listens when a male lawyer tells him the same thing, in the scene with Michelle Williams the old man with the sandstone listens and talks through her to Williams’ husband. “Your wife works for you?” (though it’s the opposite)- She smokes and is clearly putting up with a lot
- Gorgeous shot of tree line reflected off of Williams’ face in the car window
- very rich characterizations- these characters list and breathe
- 3rd collaboration of Williams and Reichardt—Meek’s Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy
- There’s neorealism here- just like her previous work- I love that she show the Gladstone (and Lily Gladstone is the best performance here and her and Stewart’s story the best of the 3 anthology stories that are loosely connected) character going back to work after her meeting—cleaning horse stalls
- Laura Dern works at a rival firm to Kristen Stewart in Livingston—Gladstone- while looking for Stewart runs past her- no words spoken… and Dern is sleeping with Michelle Williams husband but those two women never meet
- The big scene with Gladstone and Stewart is so awkward, realistic and perfect. Neither actress flinches
- The film holds on many scenes and moments past the point of comfort in a 106 minute film- and this is a good thing
- Quiet films, neorealism lineage from Rossellini, Satyajit Ray, Kiarostami, Dardenne brothers
- Often shoots in 16mm- Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Certain Women
- Set in the pacific northwest (often including trains), place is very much a character in her films, tales of struggle and solitude
- Austere, desaturated from a dramatic standpoint—antithesis of what mainstream Hollywood is typically offering
- dedication to consistent colors (also desaturated, mute to match her story emphasis on drama)- green/blue hue in Wendy and Lucy and the dirt in Meek’s Cutoff
- Wendy and Lucy
- Meek’s Cutoff
- Certain Women
- Old Joy
- Night Moves
By year and grades
|2006- Old Joy||R|
|2008- Wendy and Lucy||MS|
|2010- Meek’s Cutoff||R/HR|
|2013- Night Moves||R|
|2016- Certain Women||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
Your top 250 is coming along really nicely drake. I agree with almost all the director placements.
It must take a lot of effort to make these lists and routinely update them. Good job on that. Your lists and reviews are extremely helpful to cinephiles like me.