Mother’s Velvet Lounge Presents: Meek’s Cutoff

Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff at Mother’s Velvet Lounge

Note: To those regular attendees of Movies at Mother’s, the April offering will not be “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” as originally announced.

Also note that Mother’s Velvet Lounge is still at its original location at 212 SW Harvey Milk St. and NOT at Mother’s Restaurant’s new location at The Embassy Suites. 

On Wednesday April 3rd, Movies at Mothers continues The Women Directors Series with Kelly Reichardt’s 2010 feminist take on a true tale of the Oregon Trail, Meek’s Cutoff, starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kazan, Shirley Henderson and Paul Dano.In 1845, a splinter group of settlers traveling the Oregon Trail were convinced by the fur trapper, Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) that an alternative to the customary route following the Columbia River would take them directly through Eastern Oregon to the Willamette Valley, avoiding potentially aggressive Walla Walla and Cayuse tribes of the North. This film’s narrative begins well into the journey after the majority of the 200 strong wagon train has abandoned Meek due to a lack of confidence in his questionable familiarity with Eastern Oregon. The small band that has remained with him is now lost and also loosing patience as the lack of water and grass is taking a mighty toll on oxen and human travelers alike. Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams) sees the travelers’ fates quickly unraveling, and when a lone Cayuse is captured by the party, she must take take control of the situation, and possibly place her faith in someone whose language she does not speak and whose intentions are unknown.

Kelly Reichardt, though originally from Florida has based the majority of her films in the Northwest and more specifically Oregon. Her melancholy second feature, Old Joy (2006), shot in Portland and Bagby Hot Springs, follows the reuniting of two old friends discovering that the difference in their separate paths may be irreconcilable. Wendy and Lucy (2008) follows a homeless woman (Michelle Williams) and her dog as they make their way from Portland to Astoria. Night Moves (2013), shot in and around Medford tells the story of three environmental activists (Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning) wrestling with their commitment to radical action and its potential repercussions. Her work usually deals with characters existing at the boundaries between nature and civilized society, her camera drinking in the majestic nature that surrounds Oregon’s cities or the various small Montana towns depicted in her most recent offering, Certain Women (2016). That nature at once softens and embraces these pockets of human settlement, while at the same time looms over them ready to consume and reclaim.

Meek’s Cutoff is a loose adaptation of historical record. Reichardt has taken one of the more sorrowful episodes from the early days of the Oregon Trail and has refashioned it to shine a distinctly contemporary light on female empowerment, masculine authority and xenophobia. And yet all through it there is a remarkable sense of authenticity to the manners of the characters and their costumes. As shot by Christopher Blauvelt, the 1:33:1 Academy aspect ratio doesn’t simply imbue the film with a vintage appearance. The absence of the usual panoramic perspective we are accustomed to seeing in Westerns ties our field of view to that of the women in the story whose tunnel-like bonnets act as blinders, forcibly limiting their ability to see the world around them.

Apart from Reichardt favorite, Michelle Williams, the film also features solid performances from Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson and Will Patton as well as the always wonderful Zoe Kazan sporting the bonnet and the Oregon Trail dust she’s be wearing eight years later in “The Gal Who Got Rattled” segment in The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018).              
     
The excitement begins at 7:00 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:30.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

Mother’s Velvet Lounge is located at 212 SW Harvey Milk St..

Regards,
Paul Harrod

 

The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)

On Wednesday, March 7th, We continue our science fiction cinema series at Mother’s Velvet Lounge with Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 classic, The Man Who Fell To Earth, starring the Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie in his ground breaking dramatic film debut. Also staring are Candy Clark, Rip Torn and Buck Henry.

Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is a humanoid alien on a mission to establish a means of transporting water from the Earth to his dying desert home planet and hopefully save his wife and children. Without revealing his true identity, his plan involves building a company and marketing his alien technology to accrue enough capital to launch his own space program. Partnering up with patent lawyer, Oliver Farnsworth (Buck Henry), Newton establishes World Enterprises, a cutting edge tech company that takes the world by storm with dramatic leaps in home entertainment systems and photographic processes. Newton himself struggles to adapt to the ways of the inhabitants of his new home while maintaining his anonymity. He partners up romantically with the kind and uncomplicated Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), a maid at a New Mexico hotel who serves as his guide to mainstream America, but ​in the bargain introduces him to the dangerous addictions that may prove his undoing. Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn), a skirt chasing college professor becomes fascinated with Newton’s empire and joins his aerospace division in the hopes of unraveling the mystery of the man himself. 

Parallel to all of this, military,economic and political interests in the nation’s capitol are concerned that Newton’s technological revolution is actually over-stimulating the US economy and feel threatened by the unpredictability of the change that World Enterprises represents. Measures will have to be taken to stem the winds of change that Newton brings with him…

Nicholas Roeg was one of the most important figures in cinema in the first half of the 1970s directing four features that remain influential to this day. Performance (1970) which he co-directed with Donald Cammell and ​starred James Fox and Mick Jagger, was a hallucinogenic fusion of East London gangster saga and rock and roll drug film. Following that was Walkabout (1971), the critically acclaimed tale of survival set in the Australian outback. And in 1973 he adapted Daphne Du Maurier’s thriller, Don’t Look Now with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. Always an uncompromising visual stylist, Roeg called on his background as a cinematographer (Fahrenheit 451Far From The Madding Crowd) to create distinctly visual stories, usually with spare dialogue and little exposition. The Man Who Fell To Earth is rich in quite mysteries which invite the viewer to meet it half way. Particularly fascinating is how Roeg deals with time, often employing ​his ​signature editorial juxtapositions that ping pong between concurrent events. Though linear in its chronology, time seems to move differently for Newton than for the Terrestrial characters as he passively observes regimes rise and fall and the few humans he comes to care about grow old and wither, while he is trapped in temporal stasis.

After seeing the BBC documentary Cracked Actor, which followed Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour of America, Roeg couldn’t see anyone else playing the part of Thomas Jerome Newton. Bowie’s lack of experience as an actor, as well as his lack of previous exposure to movie-goers proved a significant asset to the film’s effect. He truly does seem to occupy a different plane of existence from the other (more seasoned) actors. His​ slender, embryonic frame, pale skin and bizarrely toned hair go a long way to suggest someone who is trying to look human, but​ is ​just not completely formed. Bowie always said that he thoroughly trusted and gave himself over completely to Roeg, and the result is a captivating performance from one of the most significant cultural figures of the last century.  

The excitement begins at 6:30 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00.  Hope to see you there!

Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark.

Mother’s Velvet Lounge Presents: Quatermass and the Pit

Quatermass And The Pit (1967)

On Wednesday, December 13th, we continue our science fiction cinema series at Mother’s Velvet Lounge when we present the seminal British occult/science fiction thriller, Quatermass and the Pit (US title: Five Million Years To Earth), adapted by Nigel Kneale from his original BBC mini-series, and directed by Roy Ward Baker. The film stars Andrew Keir, James Donald, Barbara Shelly and Julian Glover.

While excavating a new underground tunnel in London, a group of workers discover the fossilized skulls of a primitive humanoid. Paleontologist, Dr Mathew Roney (James Donald) and his associate Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley) examine the find and date the fossils at five million years, challenging everything previously theorized regarding human evolution. But when a mysterious metal object is discovered buried in the site, fears emerge that an unexploded German V weapon has been unearthed. The officious Colonel Breen of the RAF (Julian Glover) is called in to assess the situation accompanied by Professor Bernard Quatermass, the brilliant astrophysicist (Andrew Keir). Despite Breen’s insistence that the object is a relic of a war fought little more than 25 years earlier, it is apparent to the scientists that it isn’t even of Earthly origin. The implications of the discovery could upend our ideas of what it means to be human and when efforts are made to penetrate the object, a force is unleashed that could signal the end of humanity.

Originally produced by the BBC as a six episode teleplay in 1958, Quatermass and the Pit was the third installment of Nigel Kneale’s series which found his protagonist, Professor Quatermass uncovering a terrifying mystery from space. All three series were adapted into theatrical features by Hammer Films,  a studio best known for reviving gothic horror in the 60s and 70’s, and making stars of the likes of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Though this film is largely pure science fiction, it does manage to work in occult themes and offers a sampling of cobwebs and creaky doors, not to mention a tip of the hat to H.P. Lovecraft. But the ideas behind the narrative are powerful, thought provoking and have withstood the test of time. Particularly impressive is the fact that the film’s minuscule budget of £275,000 didn’t hinder Baker and Kneale’s efforts to tackle some grandiose ideas. And while most of the photographic effects are pretty primitive by contemporary standards, the visual ideas are rich, thanks to production design from Hammer stalwarts Bernard Robinson and Ken Ryan, and have served as inspiration for countless film makers since.
  
The excitement begins at 6:30 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00.  Hope to see you there! 

Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark