Meek’s Cutoff

Meek’s Cutoff. The opening scene has the cast fording a waist-deep river – rushing water taking over the soundtrack – and you sense that’s about as good as it’s gonna get for a while. I love the contrast between the hot bright sunny bleached-out days, and the nights where you can see absolutely nothing but what fire’s light touches. And the square frame makes things feel a bit more fraught somehow. Over and over we see women hanging back while men deliberate their course. (Often with men in long shot, conversations barely audible, while the women get the close-ups and mediums.) And look where it gets them. By the end, it’s time to try something new. Fingers crossed.

Kelly Reichardt’s movies Night Moves and Old Joy are also really good. Wendy & Lucy is still on my list.

Night Moves

Night Moves. Movements of all sorts cultivate their own extremists. Part of being on that fringe is wrestling with futility. Even if you accept that you’re not able to do one huge world-changing act… you may not even be at peace with your own puny effort. Reichardt captures pretty standard thriller genre stuff with a spooky calm. The lead-up to and climax at the dam is brilliant. I love the scenes with jabs at how we’ve alienated ourselves. There are glimpses of homes with heavily landscaped backyards that imitate nature itself; leisure activities like golf in the same faux-natural environments; campgrounds where people sit in RVs and watch TV; gear stores that sell a squeaky-clean impression of interest in the outdoors; etc. Been a while since I’ve seen a character use a public library. Eisenberg is a master of sulking. He’s so good.


“The less money you take, the more freedom you have. I’ve never made a film where I don’t have final cut. And I can’t imagine doing that. That just seems like it would be turmoil. I edit because that’s where you learn how to direct, really. All the answers of what you should have done are in the editing. I miss out on being able to be in a conversation with someone, and I can see where that can be a really valuable thing—to have someone with more of a distance to be having a dialogue with. You write alone, and scouting is really lonely. Then you do this really intense thing with a lot of people. Afterwards, I usually feel like I want to hide away with my film again and go through the process of making sure that every possible thing has been tried. I’m a big believer in letting your film be bad for a while, and not trying to get to a good cut too quickly. I just want to be involved and I want that process, because it makes me think of what lens I should have used or what I should have done. It’s such a learning experience that I hate to miss out on it.”

— Kelly Reichardt on why she edits her own films

Still from Wendy and Lucy (2008, dir. Kelly Reichardt) 

Emphasis my own. I love that.