#12 “Old Joy”
A rainy afternoon in a fern-carpeted Cascade forest. A black slug slides across a boulder cusioned with brilliant green moss. Why do I think I’ll remember that moment from Kelly Reichart’s “Old Joy” for a long, long time? It doesn’t have anything to do with furthering the story, about two old friends who haven’t seen each other for a while and take an overnight trip to a hot springs in the mountains near Portland, Oregon. It’s just… right. The right image in the right place at the right time. Necessary. Essential.
Like a great jazz musician, Reichart understands that striking a single, well-placed note can resonate more profoundly than playing a splashy cascade of noise just because you can. “Old Joy” resounds with sustained images and sounds that are given the time and space to reverberate — fitting for a movie that begins with the chirp of a bird perched on a gutter and the chime of a meditation gong.
It’s based on a short story (and feels very much like that atmospheric, economical form of storytelling) that comes down to this: The two friends, Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham), drive up into the mountains and get lost trying to find the hot springs. They pitch camp at a spot littered with abandoned furniture and spend the evening drinking beer around a fire and shooting at the cans with a pellet gun. The next day, they find the springs. After soaking in them for a while, they drive back to Portland.
Wendy and Lucy (2008)
I know so much about Wendy, although this movie tells me so little. I know almost nothing about where she came from, what her life was like, how realistic she is about the world, where her ambition lies. But I know, or feel, everything about Wendy at this moment: stranded in an Oregon town, broke, her dog lost, her car a write-off, hungry, friendless, quiet, filled with desperate resolve.
Meeks Cutoff (2010)
To set aside its many other accomplishments, “Meek’s Cutoff” is the first film I’ve seen that evokes what must have been the reality of wagon trains to the West. They were grueling, dirty, thirsty, burning and freezing ordeals.
Official Trailer – Old Joy
Official Trailer – Wendy and Lucy
Official Trailer – Meeks Cutoff
Did You Know
*The small New York distributor Kino International spent roughly $40,000 to transfer the film from 16 mm to 35 mm; $24,000 on 22 prints; $6,500 on 200 trailers; $4,000 on 50,000 postcards and about $3,000 on Web advertisements.
*In Jon Raymond original story, there is no mention of Mark listening to talk radio in the car. The book also does not include the dog or the fact Kurt sold drugs.