Friday, September 22, 2023

Kelly Reichardt (Ongoing Filmmaker Archive)

Kelly Reichardt is an American filmmaker whose films take a poetic look at the struggles of people in their everyday lives. These films are meditative, have strong acting, and naturalistic settings. Even when dealing with intense moments, she pulls inward to reflect on smaller details and she masterfully uses silence as well as sound. I find these films to be very moving, but we as an audience need to actively view the films. They require our full attention. For future filmmakers in this class, Reichardt is a major independent filmmaker and her films are examples of what one can do through good storytelling, with a committed cast.  River of Grass (1994) was her first film, it is a good look at a respected filmmaker starting out, but our film options will start with her 2nd film. 

This third intro to Kelly Reichardt is excellent and important, but I would recommend you wait till after you view your film, as it is full of spoilers for many of the films:

Old Joy (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2006)
"Almost from the moment it arrived on screens in early 2006, Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy was celebrated as a new milestone for American cinema, even an expression of independent filmmaking’s delayed arrival at maturity. In relating its deceptively simple tale about two thirty­something friends who reunite for an overnight trip to the mountains, the film covers a remarkable amount of territory in its slim seventy-three minutes, offering not only a finely detailed character study of two men approaching the edge of middle age but also a sympathetic analysis of contemporary masculinity, an impressionistic portrait of coastal-liberal ennui, and an exemplar of economical storytelling. The critical ecstasy over the film following its premiere at Sundance—Amy Taubin, for example, argued that “by its sheer existence . . . Old Joy suggests that all is not yet lost”—came despite the fact that it had been somewhat incongruously tucked away in an experimental sidebar alongside nonfiction works by visual artists such as Kevin Jerome Everson and Sharon Lockhart. What critics discovered was a well-wrought fiction grounded in all-too-real life that presents our own world back to us in ways antithetical to the obstreperous tenor of most modern media. In contrast to the light comedies that had become the Sundance norm, Reichardt’s story­telling is oblique and deliberate, nuanced, deeply assured and profoundly tentative, marking a firm defiance against the clamor—and perhaps the hopelessness—of the twenty-first century." - Ed Halter
Resources for after you watch the film

Wendy and Lucy (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2008)|
Film Description: "Wendy, a near-penniless drifter, is traveling to Alaska in search of work, and her only companion is her dog, Lucy." MB - I've cut the film description because it gives away major plot details. Short, powerful, naturalistic film that perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the impending economic collapse (keeping in mind she made it before 2008) and the quiet desperation of those living on the edge.
Resources for After You Watch the Film

Meek's Cutoff (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Film Description: "During the 1840s, six settlers and their guide are caught in a dangerous situation: They are lost, food and water are running out, and the surrounding desert threatens to claim them all. Meanwhile, their guide, Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), refuses to acknowledge that they may be several weeks off-course. When a Native American (Rod Rondeaux) is captured, Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams), one of the settlers, shields him from Meek's wrath, and he offers to lead the group to water in return."
Resources for after you watch the film

Night Moves (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2014)
Film Description: "Two Oregon environmentalists (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning) and a former Marine (Peter Sarsgaard) hatch a plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam."
Resource for after you watch the film:
Brian Eggert's response to the film 
Kelly Reichardt at Film at the Lincoln Center discusses the making of Night Moves

Certain Women (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Film Description: "Three strong-willed women (Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams) strive to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest: a lawyer who finds herself contending with both office sexism and a hostage situation; a wife and mother whose determination to build her dream home puts her at odds with the men in her life; and a young law student who forms an ambiguous bond with a lonely ranch hand."
Resources for after you watch the film:
Lash, Dominic. "'A fair curve from a noble plan': Certain Women." Movie #9 (2021)
Leach, Hope Dickson. "Kelly Reichardt and Humanism as a Political Statement." Talkhouse (March 29, 2017)
Mayer, Sophie. "Certain Women." Another Gaze (March 4, 2017)
Taylor, Ella. "Certain Women: Trapped Under the Big Sky." Current (September 19, 2017)

First Cow (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2020)
Film Description: "Two travelers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, dream of striking it rich -- but their tenuous plan to make their fortune on the frontier comes to rely on the secret use of a landowner's prized dairy cow."
Resources for after you watch the film:
Goncharov, Stefan. "The Idea of History in Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow." Photogénie (December 9, 2020)
Gross, Larry. "Milk Money: Director Kelly Reichardt on the New World and Nascent Capitalism of First Cow." Filmmaker (March 17, 2020)
Hudson, David. "Kelly Reichardt's First Cow." The Current (October 3, 2019)

Showing Up (USA: Kelly Reichardt, 2023)
Film Description: "Kelly Reichardt’s latest feature, Showing Up, is a delicate, witty, yet deeply profound film about the messy ways in which living and surviving can get in the way of art-making. The film follows a ceramics artist, Lizzy (Michelle Williams), who prepares for an upcoming gallery show while wrangling family issues, the interpersonal politics of her day job at an art school, and problems with her landlord, who happens to be none other than her more successful colleague, Jo (Hong Chau). Not to mention the injured pigeon that Lizzy is suddenly forced to care for... It’s a new riff on themes familiar from Reichardt’s work, like friendship and the ways in which precarity impinges upon community, but it’s also the director's funniest film yet, one that finds joy and comedy in its milieu of eccentric, sometimes petty, yet infectiously passionate artists. With Showing Up arriving in theaters this week, Film Comment Co-Deputy Editor Devika Girish interviewed Reichardt about the making of the film, the casting of Williams and Chau, the work of Cynthia Lahti, Michelle Segre, and the various other artists who are featured in the film, and much more." - The Film Comment Podcast
Resources for after you watch the film:
Hudson, David. "Kelly Reichardt and Showing Up." The Current (April 6, 2023)
Nayman, Adam. "Take These Broken Wings: Kelly Reichardt on Showing Up." Cinema Scope #92 (September 2022)
Reichardt, Kelly. "On Showing Up." The Film Comment Podcast (April 4, 2023)
---. "Showing Up." Screen Slate #24 (April 7, 2023) 

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