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Meek's Cutoff [Blu-ray/DVD]
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A braggart meets his match in a courageous woman in this period drama from independent filmmaker Kelly Reichardt. It's 1845, and Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) is a boastful, rough-hewn wilderness guide who has been hired by three families who want to start new lives on the other side of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. Meek constantly tells his charges that he knows the Oregon Trail like the back of his hand, but when they veer off for a shortcut he says is foolproof, they soon find themselves in forbidding territory, without water and with Indians on the horizon. While the men of the party travel with Meek, their wives are made to follow them in a separate wagon, and Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams), the strong-willed wife of Solomon Tetherow (Will Patton), begins openly questioning Meek's competence among the other women, especially her friend Millie Gately (Zoe Kazan). While making their way through the wilderness, the party happens upon a Cayuse Indian (Rod Rondeaux); Meek captures the Indian and proposes they kill him, but Emily bravely speaks up for him, believing he has the right to live and perhaps the knowledge to lead them safely over the mountains. MEEK'S CUTOFF was an official selection at the 2010 New York Film Festival.
Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano
4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his time Reichardt's delved into the past and come up with a western -- one that, while it nods to the classics of the genre, coolly overturns most of their basic conventions..."
"Kelly Reichardt, the director of this tough, quiet revelation of a movie, films it in an uninflected style that makes everything feel at once mundane and mysterious."
New York Times
"Reichardt's astonishing new film, MEEK'S CUTOFF, broadens the scope and raises the stakes tenfold, expanding beautifully on the same themes of survival and the terrible, life-threatening choices people have to make when their options narrow." -- Grade: A
"MEEK's CUTOFF is an ambitious feat of visual storytelling that's alive to both its landscape and the actors who people it. This is a big movie masquerading as a small one, fully awake in even its quietest, slowest moments."
"In the tough and sparely beautiful neo-Western MEEK'S CUTOFF, the uncompromisingly independent filmmaker Kelly Reichardt uses landscape and natural sound to convey American restlessness and uncertainty....[A] terrific, unsettling film." -- Grade: A
3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Michelle Williams, re-teaming with Reichardt after WENDY AND LUCY, is incandescent....Reichardt has crafted a haunted dream of a movie to get lost in."
"MEEK'S CUTOFF is simultaneously cerebral and astonishingly cinematic, a historical road movie that stretches the inhospitable landscapes and marginal living in WENDY AND LUCY in intriguing directions."
Sight and Sound
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "MEEK'S CUTOFF is more an experience than a story....[The director is] genuinely curious about the hardly-educated pioneers who were brave, curious or hopeful enough to set out on such a dangerous journey."
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