Pre-Meeting #3 (Certain Women)

Lil’ Late with the Update, but here we are nonetheless!

This week we are following our first two testaments to (or deconstructions of) American mythology with a movie by a filmmaker who appears to be very interested in finding what it means to be American in the 21st century — Kelly Reichardt. Reichardt is garnering some Oscar Buzz right now for her quiet, sensitive film about the power of friendship and pancakes on the American Frontier — First Cow — as is known for her naturalistic dialogue, her career-long depiction of Oregon* throughout time, and contrasting America’s ugliest feature (Capitalism) with its most beautiful (Trees and shit).

I’m going into Certain Women pretty blind, so I’ve not terribly much to say about it. Where The Night of the Hunter and Badlands were defining (and debut) works from their filmmakers, Certain Women shows a filmmaker well into her groove going ahead and switching the style up as 50 once said. Reichardt’s other Michelle Williams collaborations – 2008’s Wendy and Lucy and 2010’s Meek’s Cutoff — are perhaps more definitive in communicating the core idea of what a Reichardt film is, but from my preliminary reading Certain Women fits snugly along her canon. I love this quote from this Criterion essay by Ella Taylor — “Reichardt’s films are intense procedurals of the inner life, and her modus operandi is to allow unexpressed longings to hang quietly in the air so we can feel them too and watch what happens when her characters try to act on them.”

*Certain Women strays from the Oregon-ness of much of Reichardt’s work, instead anchoring its stories in Montana.

P.S. If you’d like additional reading check out this Bright Wall / Dark Room essay.


I’m still figuring out comments on this thing — but I wanna start ending these with an invitation to comment on other movies you’ve seen recently to get a conversation goin’. I watched Shin Godzilla for the first time last week and BOY HOWDY, what a movie. Amazing creature design combined with a fun, blistering bureaucratic procedural.

What have you watched recently?

2 comments

  1. I’m certain that Certain Women kicks so much ass. Very excited to talk about this one! I’m fast becoming a Reichardt-head.

    Recently I also watched Leigh Wannell’s Invisible Man with Elizabeth Moss from last year. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot but it’s a great little thriller! Moss might have the best snarl in the game rn. She brings it.

    1. Invisible Man was the last movie I saw in theaters. I agree that it’s a serviceable thriller — Maybe goes an act too long for my taste, but that dinner scene and that paint scene are two of the most effectively scary moments I’ve seen in any film. It’s also wild to me how Moss went from Peggy Olson to Hollywood’s go-to “We need someone to unravel in front of a camera” person.

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