Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meek's Cutoff. USA 2010. Dir: Kelly Reichart. 104 min. 35mm


INTRODUCED BY THE PHOTOGRAPHER / Kelly Reichart's Old Joy (2006) and Wendy and Lucy (2008) are set in the present day Pacific Northwest and powerfully evoke the class- and environmentally- based divides animating the art of figures as otherwise disparate as novelist Don Carpenter, photographer Robert Adams, and poet Richard Hugo.  This long, slow historical film's depictions of the empty landscapes of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Warm Springs Reservoir feature as prominently as any character, and have lingered with me.  Reichart's theme is the alienation of her laboring settler subjects in space and time. Hopelessly lost, they cross and recross the same stretch of interior desert. Sympathetic viewers quickly grasp the characters' rootlessness in a place they cannot "read," a space beyond language where all metanarratives -- Christianity; capital; Manifest Destiny -- have broken down.  Filmed on a microbudget in southeastern Oregon, in places even I have found hard to visit first hand. (CJB)

Christopher Brayshaw is a Vancouver-based writer and photographer

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