Meek's Cutoff

Meek's Cutoff

DVD - 2010
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A wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst, and their own lack of faith in each other's instincts for survival. When they encounter a Native American, they must choose between following their guide or an 'enemy.'
Publisher: [United States] : Oscilloscope Pictures, c2010.
Branch Call Number: DVD Fic Meek
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (104 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.


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Jun 14, 2018

Meek's Cutoff haunts with its sparseness, quiet, and desperation. As a small group head out across the plains, they apparently take a alternate route on the advice of their guide and now, in the time before GPS or even a map, they don't know if they are heading towards or away from safety, possibly past a point of no return. This is not a typical Hollywood movie: there is no discernible star, there is little action, and the dialogue is subtle. Yet the danger, the terror, the unknown all feel authentic and compelling if you let yourself be immersed in the experience. For anyone who lost the trail in the woods as the sun dropped, it conjures that sensation times ten.

Sep 15, 2017

Unless you are as insipid as those below who recommend this piece of offal, live your life and do not bother with this completely unredeemed garbage; boring is too complimentary.

I highly recommend this film.
1) It depicts circumstances about an event in the history of the Oregon Trail.
2) It has a (nearly) all-star cast, though not necessarily big Hollywood names.
3) Bruce Greenwood is a tremendous veteran actor though he's nearly unrecognizable in this
film. I could tell by his eyes, however. I would see anything that he is in.
4) Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan are a real-life power couple and work in some films together,
such as this film. They are both actors (and writers, producers) to follow.
5) This film is slow-paced but effectively. One gets a feel for the day-in, day-out slog that
would have been the slow progression over uneven terrain during the trek west. In this
way, it has a near-Bergmanesque tempo. The film meanders. I'm also reminded of some
of the films that Robert Duvall did during the 80s: Stone Boy and some of his 'Westerns'.
6) There are some amazing vistas throughout the film: gorgeous sunsets and wide open
expanses of land.
7) I suspect that a lot of people won't have the patience to truly savor this glorious piece of
movie-making. Our movie-going culture is used to fast-pace, crash and bang. However,
those who allow themselves to slow down are in for a fine film-watching experience.
8) I took off half-a-star because I felt that some of the characters could have been better
developed and the actors made better use of.

Apr 08, 2017

I've seen all the films made by director Kelly Reichardt and writer Jon Raymond, including the very acclaimed Wendy & Lucy. My favorite is Meek's Cutoff.

Many commenters here seem to be expecting a more typical cinematic experience, a typical unrolling of typical plot with typical thrill-ride climax and some kind of comforting denoument. If that's what you're looking for? Meek's is not going to be your cup of tea. Go rent Pretty Woman or something.

If you're in the mood for something more contemplative, unusual, and slow-paced, Meek's might be for you. For me, sense of place in a film is like its own character, it's more important than the usual MacGuffin plotline complications. Here, the desert of Eastern Oregon holds its own as a co-star. ("Man vs. Nature", my high school English teacher would say.) The grinding dailiness of the pioneers' lives is allowed to unfold in both beauty and tedium. One feels that the desert will go on forever. The women will work themselves to the bone, often for inscrutable reasons: does it really matter if the bonnets are starched white and clean in the middle of freakin' nowhere? Why does everyone build their own fire?

Michelle Williams' performance is a stunner. She's a unique leading lady of our times, layering vulnerability with a range of roles she inhabits physically and vocally. Not quite Methody enough to be a Streep, but definitely not stuck in playing herself-in-various-period-costumes or herself-as-various-big-cartoony-archetypes, as some of today's top female actors do. Here she is tough, sharp, and beaten, all at once. Wonderful on the screen.

Mar 24, 2017

I thought the movie was ok, I liked that the wasn't too much artificial light for the night scenes as this made it seem more real, although my wife complained that it was too dark. I thought the ending was a little disappointing but have seen other movies with similar endings - you make up the end for yourself.

Nov 28, 2016

Don’t understand the negative reviews. A brilliant, complex film. This is a western, but anyone expecting a shoot-em-up western is bound to be disappointed. It is a thoughtful meditation on discrimination, racism, and the subtle power between men and women. If that’s not enough, it is also a tale about how to survive when being led by a loud, obnoxious braggart across a trackless landscape when the only alternative is to trust an “undocumented” alien. Sound familiar? Finally, I didn’t realize that there was a conversation, in 1800s America, about who would “own” the territory - Americans, emmigrants, the English, or Indians. Powerful stuff. For those who complain that the movie ends abruptly and without resolution, that is true only if you are insisting on a mainstream movie. This movie ends where it needs to.

Jul 26, 2015

disappointing film - better in audio form with Will Patton reading.

Apr 16, 2015

After seeing this film I felt spitting the dust out of my mouth. I ran to the kitchen and drank 3 glasses of water. I'm never going anywhere without a map; maybe I'll take a local native as a guide.

Feb 09, 2014

It is just as boring watching this as it would be walking across the desert. I really wanted them to at least find water in the end.

Sep 02, 2013

It's said that movies are life with the dull bits cut out. Meek's Cutoff leaves most of the dull bits in, but it has to. It's about the mind-bending awfulness of being lost in hostile territory, and the affects of fear and deprivation on human character. Beware of an abrupt, unresolved ending, but it is justified: there is no right or wrong way to respond to this situation. To have an "I told you so" moment would cheapen the story. This dilemma has been posed elsewhere, and IMHO better, in other movies, but this one's still worth watching. BONUS: a "making of" featurette as moody and wordless as the movie itself.

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