TRAILER PARK: Meek's Cutoff, Source Code, Apollo 18
By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic
The highly anticipated new film from rightfully acclaimed writer/director Kelly Reichardt ("Old Joy," "Wendy and Lucy"), "Meek's Cutoff" is an expansive, 1845-set western about a family on a wagon path that branched off the Oregon Trail. Looking to be a little bit "Days of Heaven" and a little bit "Stagecoach" (a fine pair of references if ever there was one), the film reunites Reichardt with her do-no-wrong "Wendy and Lucy" star, Michelle Williams, who leads a cast that also includes Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Shirley Henderson, Will Patton and Bruce Greenwood. Reichardt has already shown what wonders she can create with very little. It'll be well worth it to see where she can go with a larger budget and an epic scope.
I just recently was able to finally catch up with "Moon," the 2009 Sam Rockwell vehicle that marked the directorial debut of Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie. It's a promising debut, to be sure, possibly indicative of a new sci-fi auteur in the making. A bit unfortunate, then, that his follow-up, the tech-thriller "Source Code," reeks of Hollywood product, however intriguing its premise may be. It's about a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) who can enter the bodies of other, soon-to-be-dead men via a computer program in order to solve crimes. The trailer suggests an appropriately stylish look, and the supporting cast (Jeffrey Wright, Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan) is choice, but the whole predictable, easy-to-swallow arc is also staring you square in the face, especially since this is one of those spew-out-the-entire-plot trailers. I'll see it, of course, but I don't think it's what anyone wanted to see next from Jones.
A moon movie not directed by Duncan Jones, "Apollo 18" is the latest low-budget horror flick to cash in on the found-footage, this-is-real phenomenon. In a recent interview, Bob Weinstein, head of distributing studio Dimension Films, insisted that not a moment of footage was shot, and all of it truly was found. Tip: Don't trust Bob Weinstein. Portions of this trailer are effectively designed to look dog-eared and decades-old, and maybe some of the footage actually is, but there's no mistaking that most of the stuff with the "astronauts" has CONTRIVED scrawled all over it. For those who love the jump-out-at-you scares (I don't really count myself among that set), "Apollo 18" is probably plenty of fun, but I find the insistence that it's all real more than a little insulting, especially in an era when the Elaborate Hoax is a quick and easy way to make bank.