Right Stuff

I’d like to know who designed this poster for Kelly Reichardt‘s Meek’s Cutoff (Oscilloscope, 4.8) because it works. It has a certain authenticity, a yesteryear quality. It suggests the look of a poster for…I don’t know, some Lillian Gish or Gloria Swanson film from the 1920s, Queen Kelly or Orphans of the Storm or something in that vein.

I managed to miss this film at last year’s Toronto and New York film festivals, and also at Sundance 2011. The truth? I didn’t want to see it because of the bonnets. Here’s how I explained it on 9.29.10:

“Here comes another immensely shallow but entirely honest statement from yours truly,” I wrote. “The instant I clapped eyes on those mid-1800s women’s bonnets in those stills from Meek’s Cutoff, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to figure some way of avoiding this film for as long as I can.’

“I suspected it would be a quality-level thing because Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy proved she’s a talented, dead-serious director. Attracted to downer-type women-facing-tough-odds stories, okay, and not exactly into narrative propulsion, but Reichardt’s films require respect and attention.

“And I didn’t care. I was going to avoid Meek’s Cutoff any way I could for as long as I could because I don’t like the gloomy symbolism of floppy bonnets on pioneer women’s heads. To me bonnets spell sexual repression and constipation and tight facial muscles. They suggest the existence of a strict social code (i.e., the film takes place in 1845) that I don’t want to sample or get close to because I know it’s all about men with awful face-whiskers and the wearing of starched collars and keeping everything buried and smothered and buttoned-up among the wimmin folk.”

Meek’s Cutoff is basically a western in which “a braggart, Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), meets his match in a courageous woman (Michelle Williams) after he is hired by three families to lead them through Oregon’s Cascade Mountains so that they may start new lives on the other side. As their water dwindles and they disagree over the treatment of a captured Native American, the group questions Meek’s dependability and cracks under pressure.”

For what it’s worth I’ve moved past my initial feelings and am now ready to experience Meek’s Cutoff, in large part because of this poster.

  • Thesilenttype

    Looks like Zellwegger in COLD MOUNTAIN

  • ModernLifeIsRubbish

    Despite the gun, my mind went to Picnic at Hanging Rock.

  • Floyd Thursby

    Mattie Ross 2011. Google the original cover of Portis’ novel.

  • Thesilenttype
  • CitizenKaned4Life

    “And I didn’t care. I was going to avoid Meek’s Cutoff any way I could for as long as I could because I don’t like the gloomy symbolism of floppy bonnets on pioneer women’s heads.”

    Then, boy, you’re going to really hate Redford’s The Conspirator (which would be a shame, because I think it’s easily his best since Quiz Show…definitely deserving of at least an “elite popcorn” slot on your 2011 Oscar balloon).

  • actionlover

    I hear the Jesse Lasky Players are really good in this film.

    (here, Tom, I’ll save you the trouble)

    Buk94 says…

    “Oh that’s a funny post, Travis! I say ‘Travis’ because you’re really Travis Crabtree. I hope everybody knows that. Travis Travis Travis.”

  • Mr. F.

    Despite the Zellweger-ness of it all… what a fantastic poster. So glad it’s not another photoshop pastiche of head shots.

  • Freddy2010

    The designer is Marlene McCarty–she also designed the titles as well as titles for I’M NOT THERE, HEDWIG, FAR FROM HEAVEN–

  • zumpano

    Fantastic one-sheet

  • LexG

    Looks like it should be for “Cattle Annie and Little Britches.” (JOHN SAVAGE/DIANE LANE POWER.)

    So, Reichardt gonna bring this one in at the usual 71 minutes?

  • Breedlove

    Fired up for this one. Kelly Reichardt kicks ass. OLD JOY power.

  • JD

    Incredibly great movie. Life the perfect marriage of Ride in the Whirlwind, Days of Heaven and There Will Be Blood. Probably the best film I saw last year.

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