Watching Movies Alone with crumbsroom

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Yeah, that summarizes my experience with the film. I loved the first half, but didn't like the second half as much. Like, it was fine, but it lacked the poetry if what came prior. I think I liked the film a bit less than you did though.

The second half feels like a very well made, but not terribly original or inspired, kids movie. The first half is possibly in the echelon of my favorite of all favorite movie things. I would lay it at the feet of any film I can think of, whether it be other children's fare like Wizard of Oz, or something deeper and more mysterious like Tarkovsky's genre work. It's impossibly good.



It's really beautiful and the ending is hauntingly ambiguous.

It was totally on my radar a few years ago, since I watched the other two in the criterion set it was in, but I actually completely forgot about it.


This description sounds up my alley though



minds his own damn business
They* should release a box set of Warhol's various 60s films. I don't even know what's currently available.


(*you know...them)
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They* should release a box set of Warhol's various 60s films. I don't even know what's currently available.


(*you know...them)
I've been hoping Criterion would do something like this for a few years since there was a Warhol retrospective in Toronto about five years ago. I wasn't able to catch everything, but I wanted to, and now there is literally no way to find them (with my meagre searching skills). I know The Nude Restaurant is on YouTube. But stuff like Bike Boy or Horse, which were two of the ones that I saw, nada.

FTR I doubt many would want to watch Horse even if they could. I found it interesting in fits and starts, but there is only so much a 'revisionist Western' can do with a Horse standing in a New York loft, a couple of men with plastic pistols and Edie Sedgwick on a telephone.



SPOILERS BELOW: The last paragraph references the final image of the film.





Like the barren landscape these hopelessly lost America settler’s wander across, Meek’s Cutoff is a film stripped so clean of anything that is not essential, that the persistent squeak of a wagon wheel becomes a central player in its cast of characters. Chirping incessantly away in the background, it is a noise that quietly keeps reminding everyone it needs tending to. If only to get it to stop. If only to put an end to its reminder that it is still turning, but not towards anywhere in particular.

It haunts the film, all but ignored. But always there. It lingers at the back of this pack of travelers where Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams) walks with the other women, trailing the men who lead this seemingly doomed expedition. It is a fitting companion for her. Just barely audible beneath the clattering bother of covered wagons and horse hooves, it lives quietly in the space where Emily’s growingly frustrated thoughts are slowly being given voice. As she speaks, her words will be reluctant, but stern, Increasingly frustrated at not being heard. Muttered plainly to her husband as the stream of tall tales being spewed forth by the man responsible for their troubles keeps everyone’s attention hostage. Away from her. Away from her concern they are going nowhere.

Emily clearly blames all of the men to some degree for their predicament. But none more than Stephen Meek, the man they hired as their guide. He speaks as if he is a man who has seen all sorts of wild things in such a wasteland as this, and has learned great and ancient wisdoms from each of these experiences. He knows where he is going, he assures. But there is something about the manner of his speech that gives him the appearance that he is always on the verge of becoming lost while in the middle of his boasts. That these stories he tells, are becoming as difficult to orient himself in as this landscape he has been paid to lead these families safely across. There seems to be a sense emitted from him that all they will need in order to survive this ordeal, is to just sit tight and bask in awareness of what a fascinating and completely competent man he is.

Out of foolishly misplaced faith, or possibly just politeness, her husband and the rest of these men consistently defer to the authority of Meek. And helpless, Emily can only stay back and watch with the other women, who at the end of a long day often resign the use of their hands to little more than their knitting. While we always can sense the ever-present terror of the situation, perilously close to starving and thirsting to death, trying to survive in a hostile territory filled with (supposedly) vicious Paiute Indians, it will be the story of these women which allow us to see there are layers to this ordeal. Tiers to the misfortune they are reckoning with. For the women this is not simply about facing their mortality. It is also the story of them obediently following these men towards it, with no hand to lend whatsoever towards their own fates.

This is what will lend the final leg of the film such a sense of quiet desperation. After capturing a Native who they suspect of following them with nefarious intent, while men such as Meek urge executing him immediately, Emily is forced to view him as possibly her only hope. Simply by virtue that he is another man, maybe she can get the hapless husbands in her party to find faith in his knowledge of the land and usurp the entirely useless Meek. After they share a long stare, possibly the only direct eye contact she will receive from anyone in the film, Emily pushes all of her chips in on someone who may or may not be an even greater threat to them than withering away under the unforgiving sun.

There will never be any clear sign to the audience that the choice Emily has made is the correct one. The native will prove to be a complete cypher. He cannot communicate with any of them and is often found speaking an indecipherable dialect to himself. His behavior opens up all sorts of questions as to his intent, if he is possibly leading others from his Tribe onto their scent or wishes to do violent things to them at night while they sleep. Even his appearance confounds our expectations of what an original American is supposed to look like in such a film. He is neither presented as a noble, handsome warrior, who we could even suspect Emily harbors an interest in beyond saving her. Nor does he seem to be any kind of indominatable or violent force that will need to be reckoned with. He is balding and with bad posture, carrying with him an expression of neither fear, empathy nor hostility. If any emotion can be found in the lined features of his face, it is one of exhaustion, maybe irritation, not at all dissimilar to the expression worn by Emily through much of the film.

In the end, the film will conclude with the image of a strange tree which the Native has led them to. Like him, it is neither a symbol of hope nor despair. Depending on how we want to view it, somewhat slouched over with half of its branches in full bloom, the other half withered and brittle, it is either half dead, or half alive. It just stands there, yet another something for them to cling to. And, in many ways, it is almost beside the point whether these settlers ultimately survive. The movie is instead about Emily’s decision and how one gets to the point where such a surly and slovenly figure of a man, portrayed neither as hero nor villain, can become the final ledge for the fingernails of Emily’s hope to cling to. To give any sense of closure would be to cheat on the central anxiety and outrage that exists at the center of the film. To make its point well, it needs to just keep turning and turning in the minds of the audience long after it ends, quietly squeaking away just loud enough so we never quite completely forget it. But never quite bothersome enough that we ever really do anything about it.






Haven't seen that one yet (though I will eventually), but I did watch another Reichardt (my first, actually) recently with First Cow, which I found to be a gentle, but surprisingly powerful ode to the strength of true friendship, while also serving as an indictment of the capitalism that has infected America from its earliest roots at the same time; have you seen that one, Crumb?



Haven't seen that one yet (though I will eventually), but I did watch another Reichardt (my first, actually) recently with First Cow, which I found to be a gentle, but surprisingly powerful ode to the strength of true friendship, while also serving as an indictment of the capitalism that has infected America from its earliest roots at the same time; have you seen that one, Crumb?

I haven't. But a friend who I was speaking with on Facetime yesterday made mention of it when I brought up Meek's Cutoff. I'm definitely interested.



While I can't say I outright LOVE Reichardt's style, I really like that she so clearly has a singular voice. I imagine I could eventually lose myself in her work. I had initially been kind of mystified by Meek on my first viewing a few years ago, but after recently watching her Certain Women, and finding it so weirdly ordinary and mysterious (simultaneously!), I realized she has an eye for detail that any great short story writer has. And since good short story writers are generally way better than good novelists, I gave Meek another go. It also has that sort of short hand, narrative opaqueness, you find in short fiction, that lends itself really well to film. While definitely not for all tastes, its a really interesting watch.




Emily clearly blames all of the men to some degree for their predicament. But none more than Stephen Meek, the man they hired as their guide. He speaks as if he is a man who has seen all sorts of wild things in such a wasteland as his, and has learned great and ancient wisdoms from each of these experiences. He knows where he is going, he assures. But there is something about the manner of his speech that gives him the appearance that he is always on the verge of becoming lost while in the middle of his boasts. That these stories he tells, are becoming as difficult to orient himself in as this landscape he has been paid to lead these families safely across. There seems to be a sense emitted from him that all they will need in order to survive this ordeal, is to just sit tight and bask in awareness of what a fascinating and completely competent man he is
There is this cultural thing that you get with some people (and frankly this is something I associate like 80% with men and the other 20% with the kind of people who think spinach smoothies can cure cancer) of being incredibly good at speaking with confidence about something they actually know nothing about.

And while this is a mostly annoying phenomenon, I kind of love the way that Meek's Cutoff extends this into a nightmare scenario where it's not some dude at a party trying to explain chaos theory to you while not being aware you have a degree in mathematics or where they are telling you how to hook up jumper cables despite the fact that you just read the manual and you KNOW they are doing it wrong, it's actually a matter of life or death.

Despite having strong opinions, I have always struggled to challenge authorities or people who present themselves as authorities. Because I always have this self-doubt that's like "What if they DO know what they're talking about?". I think that the script and Michelle Williams do an amazing job of showing the dual horror of following a "corrupt" authority versus deciding to take a risk and put yourself in conflict with that authority. The emotional roller coaster of this movie resonated incredibly strongly with me.



Despite having strong opinions, I have always struggled to challenge authorities or people who present themselves as authorities. Because I always have this self-doubt that's like "What if they DO know what they're talking about?". I think that the script and Michelle Williams do an amazing job of showing the dual horror of following a "corrupt" authority versus deciding to take a risk and put yourself in conflict with that authority. The emotional roller coaster of this movie resonated incredibly strongly with me.

I used to rarely find myself able to correct 'authorities' when I felt they are quite clearly wrong, mostly because I start getting horribly embarassed for them when it becomes more and more obvious how important being right is to them. It becomes clear how catastrophic it might be for their egos if you start dismantling what they just said as being wrong or, sometimes, just plain stupid.


That is until I worked at a place that constantly tried to bury me and my employees in bull**** criticisms. I'd sit there quietly listening to them, realizing all of the obnoxious holes in their reasoning while everyone was absorbing their gaslighting and abuse and lies. Sometimes, on a bad day, I'd even start to wonder if maybe they were right, and we were all terrible and we didn't deserve to have a voice. An anxiety that ultimately landed me in therapy because it caused me so much brain trouble over the years. But then, one day I just snapped. I cut my bosses off at the legs. This torrent of rebuttals just wouldn't stop pouring out of my mouth. And they were all on point. I was on my A game. It was beautiful. I received many secret thank you's at the end of that meeting, and I'm usually not humbled by gratitude, but I was that day.



As expected, they were embarrassed to be called out so thoroughly. And they were also furious that I dared to speak back after so many years of being completely compliant. I'm sure they hated me from that point on. But then I realized the undeniably beauty of not giving a ****. I just didn't care anymore. And so kept doing it to them, at any meeting they tried to pull it. And it was glorious watching them unable to land a single punch against us. To discard everything they said with a laughing shrug and a little bit of debating 101 like it was a particularly egregious post by The Reaper.



Unfortunately, l find myself unable to do it anywhere else though. Just at that one particular job. I think the distinction is I have to truly hate people to call them on their bull**** in person. Like really really really hate them. And it also helps when they are astonishingly stupid.



I think Wendy and Lucy is Reichardt's best. That really is a great little film.

Oh, I thought she might have done that one. I think I have that somewhere in my secret vault. I'll have to dust it off



I used to rarely find myself able to correct 'authorities' when I felt they are quite clearly wrong, mostly because I start getting horribly embarassed for them when it becomes more and more obvious how important being right is to them. It becomes clear how catastrophic it might be for their egos if you start dismantling what they just said as being wrong or, sometimes, just plain stupid.
This is my problem. I'm too concerned about hurting other peoples' feelings or embarrassing them.

I'm good at speaking up when someone else's well-being is at risk (for example, I am able to strongly advocate for my students), but if it's just me and someone feigning authority, I usually just suffer in silence.



Madvillainy is one of the best rap of albums of the last 20 years.
I couldn't' remember if I had come back around to tell you that I've been listening to Madvillainy for a few weeks now since you recommended it and it really is becoming a favorite of mine.



I couldn't' remember if I had come back around to tell you that I've been listening to Madvillainy for a few weeks now since you recommended it and it really is becoming a favorite of mine.
You hadn't but I'm very pleased to hear it. MF Doom grabbed my attention with his collaboration with the Gorillaz when they did "November Has Come" on the album DEMON DAYS, and Madvillainy has been an all timer since I first listened to it. It became a tool to prove to my "stuck in the 90s" hip hop heads that modern (now a bit less modern but still) rap could still be great.

He has other groovy albums but his collaboration with Mad Lib here was lightning in a bottle.



Articulating my feelings on Miller's Crossing seems impossible.


How do you talk about a movie that keeps so much of its plot mechanics and emotions held so tightly to its chest?


A movie that seems to be offering so much, but won't really ever let you in.


*scratches chin and wonders if cheap whiskey will answer this question*



Articulating my feelings on Miller's Crossing seems impossible.


How do you talk about a movie that keeps so much of its plot mechanics and emotions held so tightly to its chest?


A movie that seems to be offering so much, but won't really ever let you in.


*scratches chin and wonders if cheap whiskey will answer this question*
I think you should say it in a LOT of words that contain innuendos and outdated slang that code the true essence of your feelings yet obfuscate them to the degree that a non-discerning reader may come away feeling as though they read nothing at all.