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Meek’s Cutoff

Submitted by MBergeron on July 14, 2024 – 12:35 amNo Comment

Meek’s Cutoff plays exclusively at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for the next two weekends, and it’s a movie that needs to be on your must see list of 2024. Meek’s Cutoff follows the travails of three couples and their guide as they attempt to navigate the Oregon Trail in 1845.

We’re navel gazing in the 19th century and that’s a good thing. MC unwinds with such a sense of realism it’s almost like director Kelly Reichardt made the film in the old west. I would refer to kitchen sink realism but this film is so sparse that there’s no kitchen, only late night campfires, vast desert terrain, an occasional tree, some horses and some wagons.

The action unfolds with a sense of naturalism. The scenes go from day to night, but always within the confines of a wagon train in search of a new land. You recognize all the actors and yet no one thesp has an overwhelming moment nor does anybody challenge the concept of an ensemble cast.

Some of the actors include Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Will Patton, Michelle Williams, Shirley Henderson, and Bruce Greenwood; Greenwood should appeal especially to Houston audiences since he played Space City dance wunderkind Ben Stevenson in that rather mediocre film Mao’s Last Dancer.

There’s such a sense of realism to Meek’s Cutoff that one of the characters is chucking chairs out of the back of a wagon because they are lost and they just don’t need extra chairs where they’re going. Meek’s Cutoff is shot and projected in 1:33.

Meek’s Cutoff comes after a line of art films that include Tree of Life and Certified Copy, and for my money it’s above everything that’s come out this year.

- Michael Bergeron

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