EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SWEETGRASS (director/writer: Ilisa Barbash/ Lucien Castaing-Taylor; cinematographer: Lucien Castaing-Taylor; editor: Ilisa Barbash/Lucien Castaing-Taylor; cast: John Ahern/Lawrence Allested/Elaine Allested/Pat Connolly; Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ilisa Barbash; Cinema Guild; 2009)|
|"Should adequately serve as a modestly
diverting meditation on the changing scene in America."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Ilisa Barbash and
Castaing-Taylor are husband-and-wife filmmakers and visual
anthropologists at Harvard. They spent three summers in rural Montana
(beginning in 2001) to make this unsentimental tribute documentary to
the vanishing culture of the American West. It captures the pastoral
beauty of Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains and the daily grind of
the modern-day cowboy (following two hired cowhands — John Ahern and Pat Connolly) tending to a
flock of sheep (some 3,000) that are taking out to pasture for the
summer and go on a 150-mile-plus
journey over the mountains on public lands. For city folks not familiar with the
natural beauty of such wide open spaces, this film should adequately
serve as a modestly diverting meditation on the changing scene in America. Though I found the DV camerawork lacking
expertise and the film too
boring to fully enjoy, it had its inspirational moments and enough
noise from the sheep to keep this viewer awake.
This would be the last such
drive, as this was the only sheep farm in the area and after this drive
it closed for business to move to a ranch closer to the Canadian
border. I guess I'm supposed to be moved by that, but somehow I believe
the bears could now enjoy the terrain better knowing the cowboys
wouldn't be there to shoot at it.
REVIEWED ON 3/13/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ