RIVER OF GRASS
1994, Oscilloscope Laboratories, 76 min, USA, Dir: Kelly Reichardt

Kelly Reichardt’s darkly funny debut feature brought the writer-director back to the suburban landscape of southern Florida, where she grew up with her detective father and narcotics agent mother. Shot on 16mm, the story follows the misadventures of disaffected house-wife Cozy (Lisa Bowman) and aimless layabout Lee (Larry Fessenden, who also acted as a producer and the film’s editor). Described by Reichardt as “a road movie without the road, a love story without the love, and a crime story without the crime,” RIVER OF GRASS introduces viewers to a director already in command of her craft and defining her signature style.


FIRST COW
2020, A24, 121 min, USA, Dir: Kelly Reichardt

A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has traveled West and joined a group of fur trappers in 19th-century Oregon. He finds a kindred spirit in a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) and soon the two collaborate on a successful business - although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. From this simple premise Reichardt constructs an interrogation of foundational Americana that recalls her earlier triumph OLD JOY in its sensitive depiction of male friendship yet is driven by a mounting suspense all its own.


MEEK'S CUTOFF
2010, Oscilloscope Laboratories, 104 min, USA, Dir: Kelly Reichardt

Shot in the Academy ratio with stark, spare elegance, director Kelly Reichardt's slow-burn tone poem following a group of lost pioneers in the barren desert of 1845 Oregon is enigmatic frontier cinema at its best. The stellar cast includes Michelle Williams as bonneted, tough-as-nails wagoner Emily Tetherow, Rod Rondeaux as the silently impassive Native man encountered and then captured by the group, and Bruce Greenwood as scruffy, McCabe-like blowhard Stephen Meek, whose disastrous trail misguiding is either plainly incompetent or purely malicious. With Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson and Will Patton. "A bracingly original foray into territory that remains, in every sense, unsettled." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times.


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