Wind River (2017)

★★★★

Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River is a snow-covered crime thriller that is not just another rinse and repeat rendition of the genre. Suspenseful gunfights, diverse themes, and beautiful cinematography in addition to exceptional shot composition make this movie one of the best I have seen all year.

There are a couple prominent motifs in Wind River. The first, would be vigilante justice. Which has a lot to do with Cory Lambert’s (Jeremy Renner) past, with the loss of his daughter. The other motif that is equally as paramount, is missing Native American women; and the the absence of statistics for their disappearances. The film ends with this anecdote actually, creating emptiness inside me about how many Native American girls have gone missing without the knowledge of any type of law enforcement. Since the film takes place on a Native American reservation in Montana, the dire situation the reservation is in is also shown. Drugs are clearly a problem on the reservation, as the girl who was killed, Natalie Hanson (Kelsey Chow) has a brother who is considered to be past saving by his father from substance abuse. The two main motifs in this movie are also joined by minor themes such as love, prejudice and cultural differences. Which also serve important purposes in the story.

The almost-fleecy mountains of Montana are a great setting to shoot a movie in. The wide shots in this movie especially display how gorgeous the environment is. The cinematography of the shootouts, possibly even better than the ones choreographed in Free Fire (2017). The suspense I felt in these two short, yet pivotal scenes was immense. The second shootout especially, does a good job transitioning to provide a backstory about certain characters motives. All this is done without needing to tell the audience, just through the editing.

The only glaring problem with Wind River was some of the acting from the supporting cast. Specifically, Lambert’s ex-wife Wilma (Julia Jones). Jones’ performance felt very dry, almost dead-pan and lifeless. Every time she was on screen her performance seemed to drag the film down. Fortunately, her screen time is very brief over the course of the picture.

Wind River is a tight, action thriller that again demonstrates Taylor Sheridan’s screenwriting talents as well as directing this time around. So, make sure to check this one out as I predict it being atop many “best-of” lists at the end of the year.

mother! (2017)

Having your movie be slowly paced is fine. If it has a point. mother! however, does not. Or does it? Darren Aronofsky could have made a decent comedy with some of the material he wrote in this movie but instead it is “serious”.  Or is it a dark comedy? The amount of times that Jennifer Laurence asks people to “please stop” or to “leave” gets comedic. The movie, is not all bad or it may be a masterpiece. Like, the last third of the movie is actually fantastic. But, I don’t understand what the point of the first two thirds are. I’m pretty much certain, that it is all a metaphor for The Bible. (The house being the earth possibly?) The movie operates like a nightmare, which I could feel like be the point of the movie. The nightmare of the human race, restarting on an endless loop. To never end; only to begin again.

People seem to either hate or love this movie, which may be the point. If, we are taking the biblical interpretation of the movie into account, then, what book is loved and hated by so many? This film could be a deconstruction of film itself as a genre and what it means. Pure genius or insanity, it seems like Aronofsky rides that line far too much, but in this film I think it really shows. We watch as the camera follows Jennifer Laurence doing menial tasks far too much in this movie. As odd things happen that only make sense about thirty minutes after the movie is over.

I think an interesting idea would be a double feature with mother! as the two films being shown. Because I really do not think watching it once is enough. I can’t assign a rating to this film. I know this review feels like it is being written by someone with split-personality disorder as I keep contradicting myself, especially in the first paragraph. But, the more I think about mother!, the more I enjoy it and the more I need to see it again.

It Comes at Night (2017)

★★★½

After watching Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes at Night I would recommend watching something to boost your spirits as well as trust in the human race. Because It Comes at Night is the most disturbing film I have seen all year.

It Comes at Night is a horror film but not in the traditional sense of the genre. Shults makes sure to not give any exposition on the universe surrounding the movie because it does not need to be stated. Instead, we need to figure out what is going on for ourselves. Shults sets the world with great camerawork and very well let scenes.

As far as acting, Joel Edgerton is the best of the small cast of characters. Riley Keough was not as good as she was in other films, like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and American Honey (2016) and Will (Christopher Abbot) had a rocky start at the beginning but his acting improved by the end of the film.

As far as pacing is concerned, the film is paced incredibly well until the end of the film where everything unravels so unbelievably quickly. (This could have been the purpose of the film however, so when re-watched this gripe could be laid to rest). The beginning opens slowly as it has to setup what is going on without confusing the viewer. But it really does not take long for things to start picking up.

It Comes at Night is hard to write about because it is an experience that I would not want to ruin by giving too much information away. It is an excellent movie that feels almost like a short film turned into a full-length picture.