Jason, the title was for you. The rest of this post is for the cool kids who have seen Meek's Cutoff.
I've seen it twice now. Ben was going by himself tonight anyhow, so I hopped along for the good company and a chance to see this great film again.
It's late and I'm not up to writing a full post, but I wanted to write briefly about the aspect ratio. Meek's Cutoff was shot in 1.33.1, the old Academy standard. I understand that it was shown in that format at all of the major festivals.
On the way to Cinemapolis tonight, I called the theatre and told them that I had seen Meek's Cutoff on Friday and that I was coming to see it again. I also told them my concerns about the aspect ratio. The girl I talked to talked with the projectionist/technician and he assured me through her that he would be projecting the film properly.
When the film started, though, it was still projected widescreen. I was confused. I'm still a little bit confused. I talked with the projectionist afterward and he explained that they didn't receive a 1.33.1 print. They received a "flat" print (essentially 1.85.1). So, someone at Oscilloscope, maybe Reichardt herself, chose to have the film converted this way and that's the print that's being sent out to theatres. Maybe?
Since getting home tonight, I've done some searches and read a few informative sites about converting aspect ratios, but I'm still a bit confused.
I'm pretty sure that in order to convert the film to 1.85.1, Reichardt or whoever else necessarily had to matte off part of the tops and bottoms of the frames. I guess that the trade-off is that the film could play in more theatres across the country, most of which no longer even have the right equipment to show a 1.33.1 print (though Cinemapolis does).
This is a rare instance in which I'm actually more excited to see a film again at home than I am to see it again at the cinema (though I may go see it one more time with Abby and some friends of ours next week).
I just read Roger Ebert's review (good as always) and the footnote at the bottom. I really don't know what to think. The projectionist I talked to didn't seem to be ignorant or a liar (he was no Stephen Meek)! I don't know what to think about the situation!
To put things in perspective (is that a pun?) for our resident Woody Allen fan, here's a humorous article about Annie Hall.
Save Annie Hall From Aspect Ratio Hell