Meek’s Cutoff. The opening scene has the cast fording a waist-deep river – rushing water taking over the soundtrack – and you sense that’s about as good as it’s gonna get for a while. I love the contrast between the hot bright sunny bleached-out days, and the nights where you can see absolutely nothing but what fire’s light touches. And the square frame makes things feel a bit more fraught somehow. Over and over we see women hanging back while men deliberate their course. (Often with men in long shot, conversations barely audible, while the women get the close-ups and mediums.) And look where it gets them. By the end, it’s time to try something new. Fingers crossed.
Kelly Reichardt’s movies Night Moves and Old Joy are also really good. Wendy & Lucy is still on my list.