By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 16, 2011 at 12:44AM
No one harbors any illusions that Kelly Reichardt's minimalist western Meek's Cutoff will be the next True Grit. And while Michelle Williams is by far the biggest name in a strong ensemble-- Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, Will Patton, Shirley Henderson and Zoe Kazan--she's hardly doing a showy star turn. But I admire this rigorous, dusty, austere road movie about pioneers who are lost and thirsty on their long trek west. If anything the movie reminds me of Gus Van Sant's under-appreciated desert epic Gerry. The new poster is designed by Marlene McCarty. Here's my Venice Fest review:
Another strong woman emerges from the background in Kelly Reichardt’s frontier saga Meek’s Cutoff. A three-wagon train heading for Oregon takes a side route and winds up lost, under the leadership of unreliable guide Meek (Bruce Greenwood, under a Joaquin Phoenix beard). As the families struggle to find water, the men capture an Indian and battle over what to do with him. Michelle Williams is strong, fierce, intelligent, and moral. And her husband Will Patton trusts her. But can they trust the Indian they pick up to guide them? As in Black Venus, the whites don’t know what to think about this strange, alien creature. Their ignorance feeds their fear. That’s what Reichardt is getting at: their projections onto the unknown are scary indeed.
Oscilloscope, which did well by Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy, also starring Williams, picked up the film out of Toronto and plans a slow rollout starting with NY on April 8 and LA on April 21. (Williams talks about working with Reichardt in this flip cam interview.)
Helen Mirren's nanny replaces John Gielgud's butler in Warner Bros.' upcoming remake of Arthur (April 8), starring Russell Brand in the role originated by Dudley Moore, and directed by Modern Family film rookie Jason Winer. (Mirren talked to me about her role here.) In the original, Moore was an hilarious falling-down drunk. Perhaps wisely, Brand plays him as a pampered infantile rich boy who cannot function on his own, and asks his nanny to help him to grow up. The femme archetypes in this movie are revealing of the tenor of our times: asexual but nurturing nanny (Mirren), powerful emasculating mother (Geraldine James), earthily sweet gal pal (Greta Gerwig) and sexual predator (Jennifer Garner). This poster treatment sells a mainstream studio family comedy, while the trailer below, at least, yields a few chuckles.
Sony and FilmDistrict attached the trailer (below) for the female empowerment biopic Soul Surfer (April 8) to another youth biopic, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
Soul Surfer trailer: