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WIND RIVER: A WINTRY FILM WORTHY OF SUMMER VIEWING

Having scripted Sicario and Hell and High Water, Taylor Sheridan has taken on directorial duties as well with his new film Wind River and scored a solid hit. Jeremy Renner plays a man who works for the government fish and game department on an Indian reservation in Wyoming. He’s an expert marksman, but more important, he understands the territory he patrols and the people who live there, because he is one of them.

Into this wintry and insular community comes an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who is tasked with investigating the rape and murder of a teenage girl who was left for dead in the snow. She is a fish out of water and must lean on Renner to help her make headway in talking to the locals and gathering evidence. The job is all the more difficult for Renner because he knew the victim and is friendly with her parents (Gil Birmingham and Tantoo Cardinal). What’s more, he and his ex-wife, a Native American, suffered a similar loss several years ago.

Renner has never been better. Olsen holds her own in what could have been a one-dimensional role. And Graham Greene is a welcome presence as the local sheriff with a permanently wry expression on his face.

As he did in Hell and High Water, Sheridan manages to weave elements of social commentary into a gripping crime story without being heavy-handed. The environment is a crucial and organic part of the narrative.

Tense, violent, well-staged, and suspenseful, Wind River is that rare bird nowadays: a good story well told.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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