Tuesday 19 September 2017

On Blu-ray - David Hare is a total enthusiast for Kelly Reichardt's CERTAIN WOMEN

Michelle Williams, Certain Women
The screens show Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart and staggering newcomer Lily Gladstone with Laura Dern topping and tailing in Kelly Reichardt's sublime Certain Women from 2016 now released on a flawlessly beautiful Blu-ray by Criterion.  The film was, like all of Reichardt's movies shot on 16mm film - Kodak Vison stock 3 with an Arriflex 416Ss camera for this one. The format and stock gives movies back an entire universe of visible ethereal fine grain, itself an intensely, orgasmically beautiful component of film that's so long been invisible or hidden, and this encode from the 2K DI is a work of great beauty. Her DP on this is Christopher Blauvelt who also shot her previous two pictures.

Kristen Stewart, Certain Women
I've been a big fan of Reichardt since Old Joy, which was released in 2006, and Wendy and Lucy in 2008. SInce then I've seen everything else including the two features before Certain Women, Meek's Cutoff (2010) and Night Moves (2013.) Her entire work is now easy to find and discover on Blu-ray.

The only living American director who comes even close to her for formal and cinematic control today is PT Anderson, but Kelly's world and style is closer to an artist like Raymond Carver and his microscopic emotional lives, rather than Anderson's big subjects. And her geography is not California, or the vast sweep of 20th Century America but the seemingly endless immensity of Montana.

Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Her characters are often hurt, often unlucky but testy real women whom Reichardt catches in the middle of apparently dead lives that seem to be going nowhere. With Certain Women she's adapted three stories from two volumes of stories, Half in Love and Both Ways is the Only Way I Want by the writer Maile Meloy, I've not read Meloy's stories, but Kelly's adaptations and movies are the closest thing to Raymond Carver the American Cinema (or any other cinema for that matter) could ever hope to achieve.

Laura Dern, Certain Women
I thought Old Joy was and is a masterpiece, and the sheer unspoken-ness of the idea - a friendship that has just been allowed to age and go stale - is such a rarity in the world of movies, and one of so many denied realities amongst men in particular. It also delivers a repeated referral to her material, that is people who might take a chance to connect or change things, but don't, or who ignore a possibility, made all the more painful by the fact they are aware of the choice. She captures a vision of real life which is so hidden yet so universal, which goes beyond dialogue, screenplay and narrative, and even perhaps more intimate cinematic tools of gesture and mood like gesture and shadow. Her formal control is completely astonishing. No more gracefully and empathetically truthful a film maker could one hope to see in the 21st century.

I didn't think any new artist could top the work she did with Old Joy, but Wendy and Lucy (which stars the director's own dog, Lucy.) comes very close.  And to an extent Meek's Cutoff with regular MIchelle Williams and Night Moves although they both seem slightly down for sheer level of inspiration of those earlier pictures are still remarkable works. 

Certain Women however seems to take off all of a sudden, even before you notice it has, with this kind of palpable thrilling but unnerving inevitability and all 107 minutes of its running time becomes a rapid testament to emotion and lost opportunities, always within a "real life" scale of event and rhythm, but never with the grandiose arthouse pretentiousness of pseudo-tragedy so hideously self-indulged by total phonies like that wanker Aronofsky and other current darlings of the festival circuits.

The movie ends with a final credit, like her earlier Wendy and Lucy, with a dedication to Reichardt's dog Lucy, who had recently died (in real life.) As someone with very great wisdom said in an appreciation of the film elsewhere, in the end there's a fourth "Certain woman", who had a dog and made it a star, and then the dog died and she decided to dedicate this to her.
If you haven't discovered Kelly Reichardt, in my opinion one of the very greatest filmmakers working today, you are doing yourself a very grave disservice.
Kelly Reichardt

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