American Movies, Off the Beaten Path

Jason Downs and David Straithairn in <i>Racing Daylight</i> (dir. Nicole Quinn)

Jason Downs and David Straithairn in Racing Daylight (dir. Nicole Quinn)

Much praise lately has been lavished on Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, a prize-winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now in limited release. A mystery thriller set in the Ozarks, it follows a seventeen-year old girl trying to save her family by finding her drug-dealing father, who put their house up for his bail bond. The film is the latest in a grand tradition of American films set on the backroads of the nation. Just as some of the finest American literature (Thoreau, Hawthorne, Twain, Faulkner) emerged from small-town rustic environs, so to have many great American films: Night of the Hunter, Deliverance, Badlands and Fargo, to name a few.

Our own site currently has a few films off the beaten path worth your consideration:

Green River. Haunted by her sister’s mysterious disappearance many years ago at Green River, Montana, Charisma Kavanagh (Danielle Franke) returns to the family cabin with her wary friend Allison Chase (Kristina Hughes). Tension grows between the two friends, as Allison’s own erratic behavior helps to intensify their suspicion of an ominous local man, Jack Walker (Bruce Peterson). Pained with the untold truth of the vanishing of her sister and Allison’s escalating paranoia; will Charisma ultimately be forced to choose between her friend and a stranger?

Catching Out. A rousing documentary about several contemporary hobos who dissent against mainstream American consumer culture by traveling for free on freight trains. The film follows a seasoned eco-activist named Lee, a young nomad named Jessica, and a tramp couple known as Switch and Baby Girl as they navigate between the constraints of society and the freedom of the road.

Racing Daylight. Starring American indie stalwarts Melissa Leo and David Straitharn, Racing Daylight is the story of Sadie Stokes (Leo) who develops a psychic link to her ancestor, Anna Stokes. They both want Henry (Strathairn), the farm’s idiosyncratic handyman/civil war junkie. Only Anna thinks Henry is her long lost Harry (Strathairn). This magical love story of hope and forgiveness is set against the Hudson River Valley, haunted by ghosts of Revolutionary War battles, the Underground Railroad, Native Americans and Dutch settlers.

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