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Meek's Cutoff [Blu-ray]
(Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Evenstar Films
Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 41,350,161,108 bytes
Feature Size: 33,398,028,288 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps
Case: Custom 4-tiered cardboard foldout case
Release date: September 13th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3880 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3880 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
•The Making of Meek's Cutoff Behind the scenes featurette (9:37 in 1080i)
• Original theatrical trailer (2:27 in 1080P)
• Exclusive essay by Richard Hell
DVD of the feature
Description: 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.
Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Shutter Island, Incendiary) stars alongside Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) and Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, I’m Not There, Capote) in a tense, subtle drama set during the earliest days of the Oregon Trail. The year is 1845 and a wagon team of three families is setting off across the sparse terrain of the Oregon desert. They become lost and have to put their faith in a Native American not knowing if he will lead them into an ambush, or water.
Meek’s Cutoff, like Reichardt’s earlier films, is full of unanswered
questions and unspoken assumptions. Its oxen-pulled pacing is so
bracingly glacial that when one of the wagons breaks loose while being
winched down a steep hill, it feels like a scene from The Fast and the
The first thing you see in “Meek’s Cutoff,” after a hand-scrawled title card placing the action in the Oregon Territory in 1845, is a small group of settlers fording a river. It’s a treacherous, tedious undertaking, and Kelly Reichardt, the director of this tough, quiet revelation of a movie, films it in an uninflected style that makes everything feel at once mundane and mysterious. We are seeing the world more or less exactly as it looked to those hardy, foolish souls on screen (and almost forgetting to notice that most of them are actors we recognize from elsewhere). The way that world looked to them was unimaginably strange, every hill and rock loaded with portent, promise and menace.Excerpt from A. O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Meek's Cutoff looks excellent on Oscilloscope's dual-layered Blu-ray that preserves the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Detail is very strong and there is plenty of depth. The 1080P image quality showcases exquisite landscapes with the beautiful west terrain showing cracked brown earth and dry golden grasses en-route to Oregon's promised land. It is so natural via Chris Blauvelt's impressive cinematography that you feel you cold touch it - and feel the fresh breezes on your skin. The mood-dominant film experience is greatly benefitted by the adeptly transferred hi-def visuals. Naturally fire-lit night scenes add to the aura and are procured digitally without a preponderance of noise or artifacts. Day light sequences look tremendous on Blu-ray and I suspect this is a strongly authentic representation of the film presentation experience. I was duly impressed with the image - thumbs skyward.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
We get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 3880 kbps that exports the original music by Jeff Grace which allows another layer in the encapsulation of aura and judgment of Meek's Cutoff as art-leaning. Dialogue has lengthy gaps separated by the shuffle of feet or hooves on the dry earth. Effects and surround range is minimal but when depth is called for it achieves some representational, if not dynamic, bass with a couple of rifle shots. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide!
Supplements include The Making of Meek's Cutoff - a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette - shown in HD, an original theatrical trailer in 1080P while the Oscilloscope case has a printed essay by Richard Hell which also holds a second disc DVD of the feature. With so many unanswered questions within the film - that are left to your own perceptions - I didn't want any over-exploratory dissertation on the director's meaning or intent. IMO, the film worked perfectly well without any post-analysis.
August 23rd, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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