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Meek's Cutoff
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Stereo
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • The Making of Meek's Cutoff
  • Original theatrical trailer

Meek's Cutoff

DVD/Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Paul Dano
2010 | 104 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $34.99 | Series: Oscilloscope Laboratories | Edition: #31
Oscilloscope Laboratories

Release Date: September 13, 2011
Review Date: September 11, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in one another's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as a natural born enemy.


PICTURE

Oscilloscope Laboratories presents Kelly Reichardtís Meekís Cutoff in a 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 (yes, that is intentional) on a dual-layer disc. And do we ever get a stunner of a transfer here. The film is laced primarily with long shots of deserted landscapes and in all of these long shots you can really pick out the fine details right down to pebbles on the ground. Close-ups on the characters show every bit of dirt that theyíve picked up on their hands, faces, and clothes, and every little fine detail in the patterns on their clothing, along with every line on their faces, all come through with incredible clarity. And though itís not a colourful film its colours still manage to pop, in spite of the fact theyíre limited to browns and faded blues, grays and yellows. Blacks are inky and deep, which is a good thing in the case of this film; night sequences in the film look to be shot with natural lighting meaning most night scenes are near impossible to see. Because the blacks are rendered so well what details we do get to see still manage to come through cleanly without any smudging.

The film is newer so I wasnít expecting much in the way of damage and I donít recall seeing any sort of blemish. Matching that fact with its fairly perfect looking transfer and you get a stunning looking image, the best Iíve so far seen from the company.

10/10

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AUDIO

The disc also provides a very surprising DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Itís sharp, dynamic, and fairly robust despite the filmís more simplistic, minimalist sound design. The distinct squeaking of the wheels on the carriages, the steps hitting the stones, the subtle winds and other ambient noises come through so clearly, and theyíre spread out creatively throughout the speakers, with the most active presentation in a couple of scenes with rushing water that naturally surrounds the viewer.

Dialogue is a bit of a mixed case. Sometimes itís clear and sometimes itís muffled, near impossible to hear. As far as I can tell, though, this is the filmís sound design and itís all intentional, not an all an issue with the discís presentation. But past this one issue itís a sharp little soundtrack, far better than I ever would have suspected.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This is where the disc unfortunately falters: there isnít much in the way of supplements. In the end all we get is a featurette called The Making of Meekís Cutoff, which runs less than 10-minutes, and then a theatrical trailer for the film. The making-of is fine, simply digital video footage from the set. Interesting enough to view but interviews or something of the sort would have been welcome. Writer/musician Richard Hell also provides a short essay on the film, which focuses a great deal on the filmís aspect ratio and other odd choices Reichardt made for her film.

2/10

CLOSING

Though it has its moments where it gets incredibly frustrating itís a strangely hypnotic film, and one of the most unique films Iíve seen in recent memory. Oscilloscope Laboratoriesí Blu-ray edition (which also comes with a DVD version) really hits it out of the park in terms of its presentation, but really misses the mark on supplements. Still, just based on its presentation, the disc gets a very high recommendation for those looking to own the film. Doubtful it could get much better than what we get here.




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