90 Movies in 90 Days: Wendy and Lucy (2008)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Wendy and Lucy
Release Date: December 10, 2008
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Production Company:Field Guide Films | Film Science | Glass Eye Pix | Washington Square Films

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is young drifter traveling from Indiana to Alaska where she hopes to find work in a cannery. Her traveling companion is her dog Lucy (Lucy). When their car breaks down in Oregon it leads to a cascading series of events where Wendy ends up losing Lucy. Walter Dalton plays a kindly security guard who tries to help Wendy.

The movie is an incisive look at the high cost of poverty and the risks for a woman being on her own, from an extortionate car mechanic to a creepy man in the park.  Williams puts in an excellent performance lending a gravitas to Wendy’s loneliness and attempts to deal with many challenges.  Lucy does a great job to.

The most obvious movie to compare this to is Nomadland.  But I also found myself thinking of First Cow, perhaps because both movies start with a woman walking a dog in a wooded area in the Pacific Northwest.  Turns out that Kelly Reichardt directed both movies!

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Around the World for a Good Book selection for the United States Virgin Islands

Author: Tiphanie Yanique
Title: Land of Love and Drowning
Narrator: Cherise Boothe, Korey Jackson, Rachel Leslie, and Myra Lucretia Taylor
Publication Info: Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, [2014]

This historical novel is a multi-generational saga about the Bradshaw family of the United States Virgin Islands.  The story begins in 1917 with the transfer of the islands from Denmark to the United States and the ongoing theme of the narrative is how the Virgin Islands are American but treated as something tangential.  Events withing the story include the enlistment of V.I. men to World War II and the Korean War, the rise of tourism and resort hotels, Hollywood using the islands as a filming locale, and the Civil Rights movement which inspires a movement to occupy the beaches that are being privatized by white American property owners and hotels.

The Bradshaw’s story starts with Owen Arthur Bradshaw, a ship’s captain, and his wife Antoinette, who are part of highly-respectable family on St. Thomas.  They have two daughters, Eona and Anette.  Owen also  fathers a son named Jacob Esau with his mistress. When their parents die (Owen in a traumatic shipwreck), Eona is forced to put aside her desires to raise Anette.  The novel alternates among the three children’s points of view as it follows their story up until the 1970s.  Yanique’s writing feels inspired by Toni Morrison and has touches of magical realism.  There’s also a lot of incest, both knowing and unknowing.

There are parts of this book that are very interesting but also some parts I found quite absurd (the Hollywood movie ends up being a pornographic film, in the 1950s?) and other times that I just wished that Yanique would get on with the story instead of circling around a point.  So, consider this a mixed review.

Recommended books:

  • Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
  • Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
  • Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

Rating: **1/2