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ReFocus: The Films of Kelly Reichardt

E. Dawn Hall

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The first book-length study of Reichardt’s career and works

Over her multi-film career, including works like Old Joy, Meek’s Cutoff and Certain Women, the independent filmmaker Kelly Reichardt has established a highly individual perspective on questions of gender, feminism, socioeconomics and sexual orientation, set within an aesthetic framework that is guided by the low-budget techniques of ‘slow cinema’, minimalism and neorealism. In this close reading of her films and production methods, E. Dawn Hall defines Reichardt’s auteur characteristics, arguing that she offers a contemporary and sustainable model for independent filmmakers in America.

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Kelly Reichardt as Auteur

A Closer Look: Kelly Reichardt

Precursor: River of Grass
A Female Centered Road Movie
Feminist Counter-Cinema
Taboo Topics: Post-Partum and Role Reversals
Powerless Men
Liminal Existence

Growth: "Ode," "Then, A Year" and "Travis"
"Ode" (1999)
"Then, a Year" (2001)
"Travis" (2004)

Discovery: Old Joy
Complicating Masculinity
Politics and Personal Identity
Inserting the Feminine

Breakthrough:Wendy and Lucy
Gender and the Narrative of Homelessness
Social Realism and the At-Risk vs. the Can-do Girl
Ecofeminist Concerns

Expectations: Meek's Cutoff
The Real Story of Meek
Questions of Genre: Feminist Western
Slow Cinema and Neo-Neorealism
"Politicking," Race, and Violence
The Open Image in Slow Cinema

Expansion: Night Moves
Denying Expectations
Political Connections
Historical Implications: Oklahoma
Earth Liberation Front (ELF)
Maternity and Post Feminism
A Character Study

Solidificaton: Certain Women
Adaptation: Lost Characters and Open Endings

An Interview with Kelly Reichardt



About the Author

E. Dawn Hall is associate professor in the School of University Studies at Western Kentucky University.


Dawn Hall’s study of Kelly Reichardt, one of the greatest contemporary American independent directors, is most warmly welcome. Eminently readable and teachable, with a wealth of useful information on each film’s production, distribution and reception, Hall’s survey is sure to make you want to see and re-see, and to see more of, Reichardt’s richly rewarding films.

- Professor Christine Holmlund, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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