Films viewed in 2011

Archive for the ‘Western’ Category

392. Meek’s Cutoff

In Western on November 18, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Dir. Kelly Reichardt

Settlers traveling through the Oregon desert in 1845 find themselves stranded in harsh conditions.

MY TAKE

If you’re straining to hear what’s being said in Meek’s Cutoff, you’re not alone. Kelly Reichardt’s minimalist filmmaking style (or neo-neo realism, as it’s tritely been called) is meant to put some distance between the audience and characters, so we can observe what’s happening without being spoon-fed plot points or relationships. In that sense, the dialogue-free first 15 minutes are among the film’s best. The main frustrations arise around the campfire scenes, when it’s hard to see or hear anything, especially Bruce Greenwood’s husky drawl. But he, along with Michelle Williams and Shirley Henderson, are all nonetheless compelling as a band of desperate emigrants. The eventual capture of an Aboriginal warrior is also a nice dramatic addition that gives the film a real sense of danger and purpose.

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184. The Wild Bunch

In Western on August 27, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Dir. Sam Peckinpah

An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the “traditional” American West is disappearing around them.

MY TAKE

Wild is an understatement. Sam Peckinpaw’s nasty, ruthless and out of control posse of amoral killing machines left the heroic Western genre in tatters. But what a great ride this is. Even by today’s standards, you rarely see women, children and animals chewed up so ruthlessly as collateral damage.