~MICHELLE WILLIAMS: PIONEER GIRL
MEEK’S CUTOFF – DIRECTED BY KELLY REICHARDT
REVIEW & PHOTOS BY NANCY SMITH. APRIL 19, 2011
. . . after my downright enchanting, mind-freeing, soul-reviving, box-breaking – brain-power revving – not to forget, tangy-soup eating – rainy day excursion at RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA’S – ‘FEAR EATS THE SOUL’, I wandered over to the FILM FORUM to catch MICHELLE WILLIAMS’ latest flick – ‘MEEK’S CUTOFF’ – DIRECTED & EDITED BY KELLY REICHARDT – where my koda-chrome photo luck continued !!
lucky timing or what – MICHELLE WILLIAMS was there in the lobby on some private p.r. mission – and flashed me a really nice killer smile.
damn, if I didn’t die and go to paparazzi heaven right then, and there.
it took me at least 2 hrs to recover my equilibrium . . .
lucky I had that rush – because I can’t really recommend the film, except to die-hard MICHELLE WILLIAMS fans. what a dud. slow as molasses, with none of the sweet return.
even die-hard history buffs are gonna be disappointed. the film just never lifts off. never becomes authentic, even for the trying. you have a better shot on PBS. item: trying hard to get over on ya – EMILY TETHEROW, Ms. Williams’ character – loading a real black powder muzzle loading (Baker?) rifle, damn those things were heavy, solid steel.
(the best part of the movie – when her skinny arms recoiled from the actual strain). and took forever to fire. or seeing her grinding coffee. with a museum-worthy rusty squeaky handle-cranked bean grinder. the knitting scenes were the worst. yeah, those girls were really knitting, but silly scarves. in the desert. I don’t think so. they would have been patchin’ or crashin’.
and forget dramatic. all the men were cinematic duds. ole man Meek was a windbag – annoying – but not annoying enough – though you couldn’t get over the beautiful almond shape of his eyes over all that beard. and he had a great fringed leather costume. the Indian was ok. at least he seemed to sing soulful Indian, ok. but I would have preferred something really racy between him and Emily . . . Emily Tetherow, (Michelle) and SHIRLEY HENDERSON, as Mrs. GLORY WHITE – were captivating, cinematically, any time they got screen time – which was most of the time. no wonder. none of the others had any chemistry with the camera, let alone the script. maybe that was a kind of deliberate shaded-into-nothing form of casting ? is all I can think.
and when the film finally ended, with no plot in sight – let alone water – I wasn’t the only one who stood up, uttering those dread audience words aloud: a small chorus of . . . what the fuck was that ??
ya’ll know I am all for Americana – so, sorry for the busted review. but that’s how the dust settled.
interestingly enough, they had 2 actual costumes on hand – from the movie – displayed in the FILM FORUM LOBBY,
where you can still see the embedded desert dirt in the presumably laundered duds.
well, they weren’t all smelly and perspiration-stained. the (neck) ties of the bonnets took the biggest beating.
ORIGINAL PERIOD GARMENTS from the film by costume designer VICKI FARRELL.
materials: calico, muslim, cotton cording & Oregon desert dust.
left: MRS. EMILY TETHEROW – worn by MICHELLE WILLIAMS.
RIGHT: MRS. MILLIE GATELY – worn by ZOE KAZAN.
PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH. FILM FORUM – 209 WEST HOUSTON ST, APRIL 16, 2011.