Certain Women

"I just knew if I didn’t start driving, I wasn’t gonna see you again."

Kelly Reichardt’s most recent film, last year’s Certain Women, is a bit of a departure for her in that it’s a film consisting of three separate stories that are only loosely connected (other than thematically). But in this structure, it’s interesting to see Reichardt at her best as perhaps the stories each end up getting as much time as they really need to be told, at least in our perspective. Unfortunately, it didn’t find its audience and lost money at the box office. Luckily, Reichardt’s proven herself as a filmmaker who knows how to tell intimate character stories and will continue making movies. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we conclude our Kelly Reichardt series with her 2016 film Certain Women.

We talk about the certain women in these stories and how the stories work for us now that they’re all about 30 minutes each (although we both still struggle with one of them). We chat about the nature of these ensemble, multi-story films and how well it works under the guidance of Reichardt, especially now that she’s writing the screenplay herself. We look at each of the actors, including Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and our personal favorite Lily Gladstone, and talk about what they bring to the table. We look at Reichardt’s minimalist nature and contemplate why it doesn’t always work well for us (notably the dark cinematography). And we touch on the box office and what it perhaps says about her investors that they keep investing large amounts of money in her films.

It’s an interesting film that, while not one of our favorites, certainly was the favorite of the series. There are a lot of really interesting moments throughout the film and it’s worth watching and talking about, so check it out then tune in!

Film Sundries

Trailers of the Week

  • Andy's Trailer: Detroit — "Kathryn Bigelow’s a favorite on this show and her latest film looks to be as intense as her last several. Add in a dose of political intensity with a release that feels very timely, this could be one of the films everyone’s talking about this summer. Plus, John Boyega!"
  • Pete's Trailer: City of Tiny Lights — "Pretty straight forward private dick tribute: prostitute goes to a detective on a missing persons hunt. Twist? Stars Riz Ahmed who I really like in spite of that horrific Bourne tripe. The look of the London in the trailer is wonderful. I can only hope the look lives up to the film’s hard boiled promise."

Meek's Cutoff

The Next Reel - Meek's Cutoff 0.jpg

"Is he ignorant or is he just plain evil?"

The story of the real Meek’s Cutoff is an interesting and tragic tale in the early days of the Oregon Trail. Many pioneers lost their lives as they followed their guide, Stephen Meek, and proceeded to get lost. For her follow-up to Wendy and Lucy, Kelly Reichardt chose to make a film about this historical journey and the people who suffered while on it. But is her minimal filmmaking style effective for a historical drama? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Kelly Reichardt series with her 2010 film Meek’s Cutoff

We talk about the nature of stories told in media res and discuss if it works for a historical film like this one. We discuss Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton and the other actors performing here and look at what they bring to the table (and if any can top Bruce’s crazy character). And we chat about the look of the film and what Kelly, paired with her new cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt, were saying with their static shots, long takes, yellow tint, dark night scenes and 1.33:1 aspect ratio. 

It’s an interesting film. Not one we liked but an interesting one to look at and discuss, to be sure. Tune in!

Film Sundries

Trailers of the Week

Andy's Trailer: Thor: Ragnarok — "I’ve been excited about this Marvel movie ever since they announced Taika Waititi as its director. They’ve managed to keep Thor’s sense of humor in here, a healthy dose of Guardians of the Galaxy vibe running all through it, plus an arena battle with gladiator Hulk! Goth Cate Blanchett! Disco Jeff Goldblum! It’s insane in all the right ways – count me in!"

Pete's Trailer: The Journey — "A road movie telling the story of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness compressing what I believe was a 20 year drive toward peace in Northern Ireland. Much controversy about this film as a reenactment, but just maybe in spite of inaccuracies, it’s the kind of movie we need just now? Timothy Spall looks damned amazing as Paisley."

Wendy and Lucy

"Don’t be a nuisance. We don’t need that."

Kelly Reichardt has been called a minimalist film director, and if you’re comparing her to someone like Michael Bay or Steven Spielberg or the Hughes brothers, that certainly seems to be the case, at least based on her 2008 film Wendy and Lucy. This film doesn’t have a lot of pizazz or a large cinematic sense. What it does have, though, is a character study in which we dig deeply into our protagonist during a difficult few days in her life. In that aspect, it isn’t minimal at all. Perhaps calling it incredibly focused would be a better way to describe it. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off a new series on director Kelly Reichardt with her 2008 lost dog film Wendy and Lucy.

We talk about this ‘minimalist’ type of filmmaking and how it fits into the larger context of filmed stories that we know and love. We talk about how the story came about and was developed by Reichardt and writer Jon Raymond. We discuss Michelle Williams and her incredible (and incredibly internal) performance as Wendy, and how inadvertently she’s in all three of Reichardt’s films that we’re discussing in this series. We also chat about other actors in the film like Will Patton, Will Oldham, Wally Dalton and John Robinson and what they bring to the table. We look at the cinematography by Sam Levy and chat about what it brings to this story, notably the ‘naturalistic’ grainy and dark scenes. And we touch on the sound design and how Reichardt chose to use train sounds instead of score throughout the film.

It’s a touching film yet one we oddly aren’t sure we’d return to anytime soon, but certainly is one well worth talking about. Check out this movie then tune in to the show!

Film Sundries

Trailers of the Week

Andy's Trailer: Ingrid Goes West — "Aubrey Plaza seems to carry the balance between comedy and insanity quite well as demonstrated here. This looks darkly hilarious, if one can laugh at mental instability. Add in Elizabeth Olsen and O’Shea Jackson Jr., you’ve got what looks to be an awesome movie."

Pete's Trailer: Black Butterfly — "A remake of Papillon Noir starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Antonio Banderas. It’s a Misery trailer that ducks subtlety and goes completely haywire too soon for my tastes, but I’m a sucker for ‘I’m a writer…’ stories so I’ll give this one a shot."