". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wind River (2017) + Longmire

     . . . . Wind River (2017) premiered at Sundance, as a Sundance Film Festival pick, where it achieved a theatrical release deal. Ironically, this from a Weinstein company, from which the film severed ties in October. It also picked up several awards and nominations, including for Canne Film Festival. 

     . . . . Death in winter, on a Wyoming res At the center, is a  professional hunter, employed by Fish and Wildlife, who is divorced from a native woman, evidently due to the mysterious death of their daughter, which has happened prior to the opening.  He finds another dead young woman while hunting a mother mountain lion and her young, who have taken to killing livestock.  Her death is the film’s opening, a prolonged death running barefoot in the snow, breathing freezing air. The examiner determines she has been been violently assaulted sexually and otherwise either multiple times or by multiple assailants. But the death cannot be listed as homicide since it was breathing freezing air that burst her lungs, and which ultimately killed her.

That's the whole story, which is provided to the viewer in the first 5 minutes, followed by some soft-focus, lingering and detailed scenes that are pure gun and ammo porn.  However we know what's his name -- people's names in this film do not matter -- is the good guy because he gives his kid a gun safety lesson, and makes his own ammo.

All that's left for the rest of the film to occupy itself is who done the rape - murder.  The surface is a more than satisfying viewing experience, but there's little beneath, and what is, does come through as glib, to put it kindly. However, one does feel that the production, writing and filming honchos are so familiar and at ease with the locations and the matters of these places and their residents that they didn't realize that this is how it would come across to other viewers. It might be intentional though, as so many think its this is best thing they've watched all year.

It’s shot with that signature graceful, authoritive surface that tells the audience  they are about to experience a solid entertainment, in the old-school sense of that word applied to Hollywood films. Nothing that will truly disturb them will be on offer, either in action, character or story. Whether or not there is violence, all will end as it should, and the viewer is going to enjoy going on the ride.  Which itself some viewers may well find disturbing as at the end, with two fathers, one native, one white, sitting together grieving the loss of their native daughters, exchanging wise-cracks, a title card states that “missing persons statistics are kept for every demographic except Native American women, whose numbers remain unknown.”

Wind River projects the same quiet confidence and authority that is the signature of the on-screen presence these days of Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, and which no one possessed so completely as Paul Newman, from whom, presumably Redford learned a great deal. Newman could say more by standing, sitting or watching than most actors could in 20 minutes of on screen action.

As well, Redford has had much experience shooting in snow-covered mountains in his own star turns in movies such as Downhill Racer, Jeremiah Johnson, The Electric Horseman and The Horse Whisperer among others in his long, distinguished career as actor, director, producer.  These snow-covered mountains are virtually the backyard of Sundance, Utah’s first citizen, Robert Redford -- which is where Wind River premiered and was picked up by Weinstein productions, if I understand the film's history correctly.

BTW, the lovely Longmire television series, its final season up on netflix today. It's set in a fictional Wyoming that is really New Mexico; one of its chief recurring character's actor is also in Wind River. Longmire is possessed of the same gloss and authority, but less confidence, stumbles sometimes, and frequently is disturbing in terms of character, action and story line, i.e. a less comfy viewing.

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