Movies

Movie review: 'Wind River'

Following a tired storytelling trope, Taylor Sheridan's new film aims at topicality

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There is great promise in writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s new film, “Wind River.”

The last in Sheridan’s “American Frontier” trilogy — which includes New Mexico-shot “Sicario” (2015) and “Hell or High Water” (2016) — this Utah-shot drama attempts to shed light on the jurisdictional nightmare that exists on some Native American reservations that limits the ways law enforcement can prosecute non-Native criminal acts against Native people.

Unfortunately, Sheridan opts to use a rather tired storytelling trope, that of non-Natives acting as saviors for stereotypically poor, drug-addled Natives too weak and assimilated to fight for themselves. Amplifying the offense is portraying the protagonist – a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent named Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), used to spending long hours in the wilderness hunting for coyotes, wolves and cougars preying on livestock – as virtually more Native than the Natives.

At one point, he tells FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), “You’re good at looking at the clues, but can’t read the signs,” meaning he’s more adept at finding and identifying tracks, plus he innately just knows certain things others don’t.

He’s also the ex-husband of a Native woman, with whom he had two children, one of whom died tragically. He’s now carrying around a heavy burden of sorrow, which he now shares with his ex’s brother, a Native man whose wife is afflicted with a mental illness. To help him feel better, the non-Native guy tells him a parable about pain he once heard.

C’mon, haven’t we moved past this? This film could easily have focused on a Native cop trying to find justice while confronted with the fed’s inability to act because of ineffective laws. Or it could’ve focused on a Native woman’s family struggling through their anguish while discovering clues that lead to empowering answers. But, no. To get this movie made, they needed bankable — read non-Native — stars.

The story, though, is not bad. While hunting for a predator on the vast snow-covered Wind River Reservation, Cory happens upon the body of a young Native woman. This is Natalie Hanson (Kelsey Asbille), an 18-year-old whose family didn’t know was even missing. She is found frozen solid and barefoot many miles from the nearest house. Suspecting foul play, Cory calls the tribal police, who then inform the FBI due to the possibility of a capital crime.

An autopsy gives reason for Cory and Jane to start knocking on doors. Jane arrives unprepared clothingwise to handle an investigation out in the middle of a remote reservation, being the only fed close to the scene. But, to his credit, Sheridan depicts her as smart, resourceful and a good shot, plus, she is regarded with respect by male law enforcement colleagues.

Together, they uncover what happened to Natalie.

On the positive side, the film is very good at depicting certain hard realities of reservation life in some remote places. And the title card at the end referring to the horrifying statistic of missing young Native women should give one pause.

“Wind River” is rated R for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images and language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Leap!

MPAA rating: PG for some impolite humor and action

Mitchell Storyteller 7

Eleven-year-old orphan Félicie (voiced by Elle Fanning) has one dream — to go to Paris and become a dancer. Her best friend, Victor (Dane DeHaan), an imaginative but exhausting boy with a passion for creating, has a dream of his own — to become a famous inventor.

In a leap of faith, Victor and Félicie leave their orphanage in pursuit of their passions. However, there’s a catch: Félicie must pretend to be the child of a wealthy family in order to gain admittance to the prestigious and competitive Opera Ballet School in Paris. And with no professional dance training, she quickly learns that talent alone is not enough to overcome the ruthless, conniving attitudes of her fellow classmates, led by the devious Camille Le Haut (Maddie Ziegler) and her wicked mother, Régine (Kate McKinnon).

Determined to succeed, Félicie finds her mentor in the tough and mysterious school custodian, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), who, along with Victor’s encouraging friendship, help her reach for the stars.

This animated feature was directed by Eric Summer and Éric Warin. It was written by Carol Noble, Eric Summer and Laurent Zeitoun.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Girls Trip

MPAA rating: R for crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity and drug material

Mitchell Storyteller 7

When four lifelong friends, played by Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish, travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, plus there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

“Though the cast boasts stars like Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Regina Hall, it’s [Tiffany] Haddish who brings all the hardest laughs, thanks to her outrageous personality and physicality,” writes Yohana Desta in Vanity Fair (July 21). “For more than a decade, Haddish has been turning in supporting roles in TV fare like ‘The Carmichael Show’ and features like ‘Keanu,’ in between performing stand-up. Though she didn’t break into the mainstream, she was noticed by high-profile stars like Kevin Hart and kept on the long, steady path to honing her craft.”

This comedy-drama was directed by Malcolm D. Lee from a script by Erica Rivinoja, Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Maudie

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some thematic content and brief sexuality

Movies at the TCA

Irish director Aisling Walsh works from a screenplay by Sherry White to bring to life this film, based on a true story, about an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile, yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper.

Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and also yearns – passionately – to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. “Maudie” charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 3) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 4-6).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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