We had heard many good things about the film Meek’s Cutoff (2010, Directed by Kelly Reichardt, PG, 110 mins.) and the film is gorgeous on the surface. Alas, it doesn’t have much except surface. Well… not quite true; Michelle Williams, as usual, is a riveting force, but not even she can rescue a film in which next to nothing happens. It’s set in 1845 and a small band of settlers is lost in the high desert of Oregon, running low on water, and probably in Indian territory. The film certainly chips away the romance attached to the American pioneer myth and it also exposes the preposterousness of Anglo-Saxon superiority presumptions, but it’s ultimately a film that touches upon but never penetrates the bigger issues it raises. Some critics have praised director Reichardt for not tying up loose ends. Fair enough, though ambiguity isn’t always very compelling viewing and Meek’s Cutoff drifts into a category we might label “So what?” It’s 110 minutes of people trudging across barren land and feels longer than Lawrence of Arabia.
Avoid Love and Other Drugs (2010, Directed by Edward Zwick, R, 112 mins.) unless you absolutely need to see Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal naked. They are both gorgeous, but don’t buy for a second that this film is making a serious statement about Parkinson’s disease or the sleaziness of the drug industry. (Do we need a film to tell us about the latter?) Let’s call this one what it is: soft porn. I enjoyed Anne Hathaway in her birthday suit, but I suspect there are Internet sites where I could have seen her without sitting through this vapid film.