Kelly Reichardt

6.0 River of Grass (1994)
7.1 Old Joy (2006)
7.0 Wendy and Lucy (2008)
7.0 Meek's Cutoff (2010)
6.5 Night Moves (2013)
7.0 Certain Women (2016)
7.0 First Cow (2019)

Kelly Reichardt (USA, 1964) debuted with the crime drama River of Grass (1994), but then spent 12 years making short films.

Old Joy (2006)

The protagonist of Wendy and Lucy (2008) is young but lives in a Kafka-esque world in which nobody cares for her and everybody only cares for the proper procedure. Like the old man in DeSica's Umberto D she is a lonely person, forgotten and shunned by society, who only has a dog for company. But this young woman has the strength to survive and continue her struggle with the system. It's a starkly melancholic film, but also an invigorating one.

A young woman, Wendy, is walking her dog Lucy in the woodswhen she runs into a group of young people who are hanging out in the woods around a bonfire. Wendy tells them that she's headed for Alaska. Later we see her planning her route on a map and counting her money inside her car while the dog sleeps in the back seat. The camera moves outside and we see that the car is in a parking lot. In the morning a security guard wakes her up because people are not allowed to sleep in the parking lot. Her car won't start and he helps her push the car in the street. She washes herself and changes underwear in a gas station's bathroom. She steals dog food from a supermarket but is caught by an overzealous employee who reports her to the manager and calls the police. She is arrested and her dog is left at the supermarket while she is taken to the police station. The bureaucratic procedure takes forever before she is asked to pay a fine. Finally, she returns to the supermarket but her dog is gone. She looks in vain all over town for the dog. She returns to her car and tells the security guard that she lost her dog. The security guard tells her that there's a dog pound in town but it's already closed. She has to spend the night there. She calls her sister Deb and Deb's husband Dan, but her sister doesn't want to talk and Dan is not much help. She sleeps in her car. In the morning she walks to the dog pound, which is outside town. There is no trace of her dog. She takes the car to a mechanic, who also not interested in her case and even charges her for towing the car to his shop even though the car is parked across the street. The only person who sympathyzes with her situation is the security guard, who offers her to use his mobile phone. He tells her that there are few jobs in town after the mill closed. She tells him that she's going to Alaska because she heard there are jobs there. She diligently posts notices around town about her lost dog. She looks for the dog even in the woods. She leaves clothes around hoping that the dog will be attracted to them. This time she has to sleep in the woods. In the middle of the night a deranged man finds her and curses, claiming that he has killed over 700 people. However, he leaves her alone. She packs her stuff and runs back to town, terrified. She locks herself in the bathroom of the gas station and cries. In the morning the security guard tells her that the pound called: her dog was rescued by a family. The security guard even gives her a little money for her journey to Alaska. First, she tries to get her car fixed but the mechanic tells her that her car needs a new engine, which is not worth it for such an old car. The mechanic offers to junk it for her and she has no other option. She visits the family that took in her dog. She sees the dog in a fenced yard and starts playing with it. Realizing she can't afford the dog, she cries and leaves it there. She promises that she'll make some money and she'll come back to it. Then she walks away without looking back. She walks along the railway until a cargo train passes by and then she jumps onto one of its cars.

the western Meek's Cutoff (2010)

Night Moves (2013)

Certain Women (2016)

First Cow (2019), adapted from Jonathan Raymond's novel "The Half Life", is a slow movie, a non-epic western that depics a more realistic Far West than the one usually depicted in stories of gunslingers and "Indian" wars. There are no heroes, just humble lonely people with humble lives and humble dreams. The story is half a comedy and half a thriller, just like the ordinary lives of so many inhabitants of the Far West.

A woman hunting for mushrooms with her dog finds two skeletons and carefully digs up the bones. She looks up at the birds. The film then flashes back to 1820 when Cookie, a cook, is hunting for mushrooms in a similar place. He is harassed by his employers, some fur trappers, because they have run out of food. One night a Chinese shows up, King-Lu, who is running away from some Russians who want to kill him like they killed his friend. The following morning the Chinese swims across the river while Cookie is fishing. We see a ferry deliver a cow. Cookie reaches his destination, a village of pioneers. He follows a little girl who is carrying a heavy bucket of water. In the saloon he overhears people discussing the first cow that has arrived in the territory, bought by a rich Englishman named Chief Factor who wants fresh milk. After everybody walks outside to watch as two men start a fistfight, Cookie recognizes the Chinese, who invites him to his shack outside town. Lu tells Cookie that he traveled all over the world. Cookie tells Lu of his tough life as an orphan. Cookie dreams of opening a hotel in San Francisco. Lu wants to start a business exporting beaver oil to China. They gather berries and cook together. One day Cookie sees Chief Factor's cow and tells Lu that he could make cookies with the milk. At night, unseen, Cookie milks the cow while Lu watches out for him. Cookie, sincerely sorry, pays his condolences to the cow that lost her stud and her calf during the trip. The following day Cookie bakes the cookies and Lu has the idea to sell his last eight cookies at the market. The cookies are a big success. At night Cookie again milks the cow, and again while chatting with her. Soon at the market there is a line of customers waiting to buy the cookies. A shy boy, who works for Chief Factor, cannot get one because aggressive men cut in front of him. Cookie and Lu hide the money in a cottonwood tree. Finally Chief Factor shows up in person to get one of these legendary cookies. He congratulates Cookie, not knowing that the cookies are made with milk stolen from his cow, and returns the following day. This time Chief Factor commissions Cookie a blueberry cake for an upcoming dinner party. Lu is puzzled that Chief Factor can't figure out where the milk is coming from. Cookie and Lu show up with the cake at the dinner and overhear as Chief Factor complains with his guests (a ship captain and a tribal chief) that his cow is producing very little milk. He is so proud of the cow that he insists on showing it to his guests, as well as to Cookie and Lu. The cow clearly recognizes Cookie, but Chief Factor is too absorbed in a discussion on the changing fashion whims of Parisian women. Lu is energized by the dinner party to continue the business even though Cookie hesitates. That night one of Chief Factor's servants, looking for the house cat, realizes that there are intruders and Cookie and Lu have to flee leaving the milk behind. The ship captain and Chief Factor wake up and rush to the site of the cow, and the ship captain figures out that Cookie and Lu have been milking the cow. The Chief Factor leads a posse that chases Cookie and Lu. Lu swims across the river while Cookie hides in the bushes. The posse chases Lu down the river and Cookie can run away. But Cookie trips in the dark, rolls down a ravine and is knocked out unconscious. The following morning a soaked Lu finds a canoe and negotiates the price with the owner, an "Indian" who doesn't speak English. He rents it for a few buttons of his jacket. Cookie wakes up at night in a shack: he has been found and cared for by two elderly "Indians". Still weak, and seeing wolves outside, he lies down and rests. The following day Lu returns to his shack but has to hide because three of Chief Factor's goons are walking towards the shack armed. Not finding anybody, the goons destroy the shack and leave. Lu then gets the money from the cottonwood tree. Meanwhile, Cookie leaves the shack and walks along the river passing by the Chief Factor's farm and the cow, now enclosed in a fence. He is still weak and walks slowly. He is spotted by the shy boy who works for Chief Factor but doesn't realize it. Cookie reaches the shack and meets Lu who has the money. The shy boy keeps following them, unseen. Cookie, not feeling well, has to stop and rest. While Cookie falls asleep, Lu sits next to him, clearly unsure what to do with Cookie and the money. But then Lu lies down next to Cookie and falls asleep too. The film ends and we know that the boy, armed with a gun, is behind them.
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