Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 9: Meek's Cutoff + Double Dare

Date: July 9
Film: Meek's Cutoff [usa, 2011]
Where: Tulsa/Circle Cinema
Who with: Mary Beth + Jeff
Rating: Joshua ****; Mary Beth ***; Jeff ***1/2
Rating for shots of nothing but the isolation of the American West: *****!
Bruce Greenwood's beard [fake]: ****

I recently wrote about how much I loved the Meek's Cutoff poster and mentioned the alternate that I didn't like as much. The image posted is the alternate; you can compare for yourself. To me, there's no comparing the two. This was my second attempt to see this movie and this time, I made sure the time I thought it started was actually the time it started. Then I left my house early in case I encountered anything unexpected or a change in plans. I made it to Circle Cinema without delay and got to watch this look at a small group of settlers heading west via the Oregon trail in 1845. They are lost, rapidly running out of food and water and just trying to survive the harsh desert conditions.

Meek's Cutoff is right in my sweet-spot for cinema. It's a western with covered wagons, settlers, muskets, and it's tremendously slow, but I love slow films with long takes, little action and few words. Why would these characters be talkative? These people are in a harsh, isolated environment, fighting for their lives, so they wouldn't have a lot of energy for chit-chat. Plus, silence meant something to folks from this era. I'm a big fan of Kelly Reichardt [Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy] and this takes her aesthetic to an extreme by filming in the baron wilderness where there is almost nothing for the characters to do except walk in a direction they hope it will lead them to safety. Granted, her style isn't for everyone [people used to the cut-cut pace of mainstream, multiplex cinema should be warned], but she's rapidly becoming one of my favorite new directors working in film. Awesome.

Date: July 9
Film: Double Dare [usa, 2004]
Where: Tulsa/home/streamer
Who with: Sarah J. 
Rating: Joshua ***; SJ ****
Rating for Zoe Bell's bad-assness: *****!

Since I'd watched Meek's Cutoff early in the day, had plenty of time to get in a second film Saturday night after dinner with friends and a trip for a quick sno-cone [got "The Dark Knight" with cream]. I'm kind of a documentary binge in July as a bunch of these films seem to be documentaries. Blame Netflix and their streamers as they have a huge cache of docs that they offer as streamers. Double Dare looks into the world of female stuntwomen by following two women--the legendary Jeannie Epper and the upstart from New Zealand Zoe Bell. Epper, around 60 during filming and still looking for work, comes from a famous stunt family and has been in the business for decades. Bell's the newcomer trying to break into Hollywood. Double Dare looks into the short history of women in the man's world of stunt work, Epper's grappling with age and Bell looking for a big break. When she auditions for Kill Bill, she meets Quentin Tarantino and he casts her as Uma Thurman's stunt double for Kill Bill, but also writes a prominent role for Bell in Death Proof. That amazing, lengthy car chase with Bell planted on the hood of a car was pretty much the only thing that saved Death Proof for me.


hidden staircase said...

josh, i am hoping to rent a few westerns and try and get out of my usual range of films that i watch. the slowness and silence and scenery are all really appealing to me. in scarecrow, there was an employee pick tag on one 'the ballad of little jo'...have you ever seen that? also, i want to see 'the assasination of jj'...esp. b'c sam r is in it! thought i would add a clint (i've seen a few in my youth) and a few others. westerns in summer seem to fit. maybe because of their 'bigness'...

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

That's cool! Let me know if you see any and maybe I can give you some favorites.

I did see BALLAD OF LITTLE JO and liked it. Serious one. Suzy Amis is from Oklahoma.