Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 19: Mon Jan 19

Meek's Cutoff (Reichardt, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 'While We Sweat Water and Blood' season devoted to films by female directors. Full details here.

Meek's Cutoff is the movie I was most impressed by at the 2010 London Film Festival. The film, which takes as its starting point the fate of a number of the wagons that branched off from the Oregon Trail in 1845, is at once mysterious, tense, thought-provoking and, in parts, stunningly beautiful. The ending is the most ambiguous I've seen since John Sayles' notoroious denoument to Limbo (1999) and destined to be a major talking point for anyone who sees Kelly Reichardt's film.

Chicago Reader review:
Imagine a collaboration between John Ford and Wallace Stevens and you might get a sense of what Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy) pulls off here: a sincere re-creation of the pioneer experience, brought to life through careful, often unexpected detail. A small group of settlers, led by the self-mythologizing scout Meek, gets lost in the Oregon desert on its way west. The ensuing tension brings out everyone's worst qualities, which start to undermine the already fragile social dynamic. Given the emphasis screenwriter Jon Raymond places on religious fervor, naivete, and xenophobia, the film makes for an effective allegory about the United States' ongoing misdirection in confronting other cultures. Yet Reichardt keeps this so hypnotic from shot to shot that you can easily get wrapped up in it as a sensory experience. As the title character, Bruce Greenwood gives a fascinating and understated performance; the cast also includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, and Shirley Henderson.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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