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It hasn’t been a great summer for movies, so it is with great pleasure that I can report to you that there are two new films in cinemas that are total pleasures, albeit in entirely different ways.

I’ve been thinking lately that Taylor Sheridan is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. After having written the screenplays for the excellent Sicario and Hell Or High Water, Sheridan now has written and directed Wind River an absorbing thriller about a murder investigation on the remote Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

It may be his first directorial job, but Sheridan seems utterly confident behind the camera, using some of the same instincts for understatement that typify his screenplays. One of the things that impressed me about Sicario and Hell Or High Water was his use of silence … he seems to know when to let his characters and the plot breathe, which also allows the audience to think; in Wind River, he does the same thing visually. From the very first scene, in which a terrified young woman runs barefoot through the snow, till the final moments, in which the reasons behind her death are explained, Wind River is a character-driven mystery of the first order, using the emotional and physical remove of an Indian reservation as both metaphor and root cause.

Jeremy Renner is excellent as a US Fish and Wildlife Service agent who finds himself investigating the crime even as he mourns the loss of a daughter who died several years ago under similar circumstances. Elizabeth Olsen matches him as the sole FBI agent sent to aid the investigation. (It is great to see both of them in a a movie not produced by Marvel.) Also very good is Graham Greene as the local sheriff and Jon Bernthal as suspect in the crime.

Go see Wind River - it is a compelling piece of filmmaking.


Logan Lucky is equally good, if an entirely different sort of a film. It is, to put it simply, an utter hoot … a redneck version of Ocean’s 11 that chronicles a heist on race day at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

I’m not surprised that it is so good, since it is directed by Ocean director Steven Soderbergh, in a return to feature filmmaking after a brief retirement. I also love heist movies, and Logan Lucky shows what makes them great - it is all about pace, visual acuity, and the occasional plot sleight of hand.

While Ocean’s 11 had a Vegas sheen complemented with what can only be called Clooney smooth, Logan Lucky has a trailer park vibe that never condescends to characters who are blue collar workers, hairdressers, car salesmen and bartenders.

Channing Tatum and Adrian Driver are wonderful as the apparently dim Logan brothers who nonetheless are able to plan and execute the robbery; they are aided by Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter!) as their sister, who may be the smartest in the family. The biggest theft in the movie is by Daniel Craig, who steals it un totally un-007 fashion as Joe Bang, an explosives expert who they must break out of jail in order to commit the crime, and then return to prison afterwards so he has a perfect alibi. Craig, with a platinum blonde brush cut and a thick Southern accent, is absolutely terrific - funny, savvy, and the hinge on which the whole robbery rests.

If I have one (small) criticism of Logan Lucky, it is that it seems familiar because of its familial relationship to the Ocean films, but I think in the end I found this to be reassuring … almost as if this is a kind of cinematic comfort food.

Like I said, Logan Lucky is a hoot - a perfect late summer entertainment.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Sláinte!!
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