08 October 2010

Meek's Cutoff

Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Written by: Jonathan Raymond
Full credits at IMDb

Ever the zeitgeist-engagers, director Reichardt and her frequent collaborator, screenwriter Jon Raymond, have made movies about the culture wars (2006’s Old Joy) and the new recession (2008’s Wendy and Lucy). So it’s no surprise that their latest, Meek’s Cutoff, tackles so many contemporary topics—fear of the Other, disillusionment with cowboy leadership, the allure of the mob—even though it’s set so far in the past.

Cutoff plays out in Oregon, 1845; a three-family group of deracinated, industrious would-be settlers (with overtaxed oxen and melancholic mules) has gone off The Trail, attempting to take a shortcut suggested by their hired guide, the hirsute Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), but now hopelessly lost—and dangerously low on water. Despite having wandered off trail, the movie still often recalls the Oregon Trail video game. Welcome to scenes from the hardscrabble frontier: fording a river in silence, slow wanderings through desert-like landscapes (also in silence) that start to evoke Gerry...

Keep reading this dispatch from the 2010 New York Film Festival at The L Magazine

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