Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

Appropriately slow–this survival western pulls no punches, and by punches I mean achingly long scenes of walking across barren landscapes, because there’s a lot of them. And they’re loaded with feeling: short in-between scenes lay out the stakes and ratchet up the unease and distrust, and then the journey (captured with poignant music and visuals–see that breathtaking long cross fade early on) continues, and in the film’s boldest stroke of all, it doesn’t end, just like it never began.
8

Night Moves (2013)

For the most part, it’s an understated and masterfully crafted thriller; with gorgeous nature shots and slick guitar-led score in tow, the pre-event procedural plays out each scene to slow-burn perfection, with the uneasy aftermath adding further sweaty tension. It’s the character writing that has a few missteps; namely, the film showing’s awkward attempt at explaining their motivations when the plan was already in place, and more significantly, the extreme climax of Josh’s arc in the third act.
7

First Cow (2019)

A taciturn loner and skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. (Letterboxd)
Anyone else tear up a bit at the banjo-backed scene of Cookie’s first glimpse of the cow through the trees? It’s that kind of film: so delicate and thoughtful in its cinematography, score, and edit that every detail of its earthy (pacific north)western setting and uniquely organic central relationship is infused with a powerful, patient beauty–except of course when both are threatened by cold colonialism. In hindsight, the prologue provides the perfect bittersweet commentary on this dynamic.
8.5/10 (Amazing)