Wednesday, August 16, 2017

With WIND RIVER, Taylor Sheridan writes and directs another fine where's-the-justice? movie

One of last year's best films, Hell or High Water, turns out to have been no fluke, as its first-class writer, Taylor Sheridan, is back this year with another top-notch movie that is again all about trying to obtain a little justice from people and things -- think corporations, society, America -- that are quite unwilling to provide it. Hell or High Water tracked the banking industry in Texas, while Sheridan's new one WIND RIVER, which the writer has also directed, is set on an Indian reservation in Wyoming, where the malfeasance has dribbled down from another sort of corporate entity into its employees.

If Mr. Sheridan (shown at left, who also has had quite a lengthy career as actor) is not quite up to the level of the two directors who have filmed his other screenplays -- David Mackenzie and Denis Villeneuve -- he has nonetheless done a very respectable job, and often more than that. He captures with great strength and tact the the pain and grief surrounding a death in the family (two families, actually), as well as handling the mystery and thriller elements very well, too. In fact, his movie's single action scene is one of the best we've witnessed in a film in quite some time.

This extended scene (above) is by turns surprising, suspenseful, shocking and as full of violent action as a connoisseur could want. But it is in the quiet, thoughtful moments that Sheridan's poise and accomplishments are also evident, never more so than in the film's final scene, as our hero (one of them, anyway, given a deep, quiet and full embodiment by the excellent Jeremy Renner) and his Indian friend (another wonderful performance from Hell or High Water's Gil Birmingham) sit in the snow, below, as they quietly talk and ponder.

Sheridan's stars here are Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, below, making further good on the predictions of a long and starry career made at the time of this actress' earliest appearances on film. These two work so well together, even as their characters keep their appropriate and professional distance, that I hope we'll see them together in other films again soon.

Mr. Sheridan's deepest concerns appear to be with the longing for and journey toward justice. In Hell or High Water, this is fraught with ironies and sadness. Here it is more direct but no less difficult. Wind River is a depressing movie -- what film about American Indians worth its salt would not be? -- but it is so well conceived and executed that I doubt you will be bored for even one moment of its 107-minute running time. The film is alternately sad and darkly funny, surprising and lively, thrilling and doleful.

All the subsidiary characters come to vital life, too, and this is not easy, I suspect, for a relatively new filmmaker to achieve. Sheridan's writing is unusually on the mark, however, giving us lots of info with little verbiage.

From The Weinstein Company, the movie opened in New York and L.A. a week or two back and hits South Florida this Friday, August 18 -- in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale areas at AMC's Aventura Mall 24, Coral Ridge 10, Sunset Place 24, and Weston 8; at the Cinebistro at Cityplace, Dolphin Mall 19 Theatre, Miami Lakes 17,  Cinemark Paradise 24, Cinepolis Grove 13, Cinepolis Deerfield 8, Deerfield Beach,  Gateway 4, IPIC Intracoastal, The Landmark at Merrick, and Regal's Oakwood 18, Kendall Village Stadium 16 and South Beach 18. In West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, you find it at AMC's CityPlace 20, The Movies of Delray, Downtown 16 Cinemas Palm Beach Gardens, Cinemark's Palace 20 and Boynton Beach 14, Cinepolis Jupiter 14, IPic Entertainment Mizner Park 8, Regal Shadowood 16 and Royal Palm Beach 18. Wherever else you reside in our large, and increasingly Trump-dumbed-down country, click here to find the theaters nearest you.

No comments: