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Thursday
Sep 26 2019

NYFF: Kelly Reichardt's "First Cow"

Jason Adamsreporting from the NYFF which opens tomorrow

First Cowis the sort of blunt title that you immediately have a bit of a chuckle with when you picture somebody speaking it at the theater's box office -- "Two tickets forFirst Cow,please!"(I'd love for somebody to program a double feature withHer Smelljust for such whimsy."I came forFirst Cowbut I stayed forHer Smell.") It's just this sort of bluntness that sticks and that director Kelly Reichardt (Wendy & Lucy,Certain Women) lovingly specializes in.A first cow is what we are promised and a first cow is what we get,dagnabit.

Reichardt is nothing if not a documentarian of practicality and face value -- as in both that she sees the value in staring at faces,and in that things being what they seem to be is never boring to her.Her camera is always fascinated by ordinary people doing ordinary things,and under her eye the ordinary magnifies,finding itself extraordinary...

Kelly ReichardtFirst Cowtells us the tale of how two low folk,a cook named Cookie that nobody wants (John Magaro) and a naked murderer from China named King Lu (Orion Lee),find each other.And it's a tale that tells how they then find that cow,that first one,and how they then together bake up a small scheme that nevertheless lasts far beyond their meager reach,stretching centuries,touching the future.It's a tale of true friendship,whittled out in time spent together doing separate tasks while not speaking -- a swept dirt floor and a bundle of patchy flowers sealing the deal.It drips with honey,sweet and real.

Reichardt starts the film with the duo's destination and then circles back,showing us the roads they took to find their fate -- every step small and imperfectly placed,meandering and human,but part of that necessary leap towards making of them,and with them each of us,Mankind.She situates their smallness into myth and she shows us how we are all,every one of us,making decisions moment to moment that matter.  That last.That just holding your friend close can be a choice as monumental as the pyramids,in the right hands.

First Cowplays on September 28th (followed by a Q&A with Kelly Reichardt) and on October 3rd

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for the review.This is one film I am most excited about to see in the big screen.Kelly Reichardt is a favorite filmmaker sinceOld Joy.Your review is short but (can I use this word?) tantalising enough to discover this gem of a film.I read initial reviews coming from TIFF and although some are more detailed in terms of revealing the storyline,Reichardt's films are ultimately not about plotlines and dénouement as much as the minute and spare delineation of character caught in a moment of flux.Her cinematic territories are used mills,thick-foliaged woods,rural wastelands and her emotional landscapes are about heartbreaks,disillusion,unexpected human connections.Can't wait to see this!

September 26,2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

I definitely want to see this as I'm a fan of Kelly Reichardt as I'm currently in limbo as it relates to working on my Auteurs essay on her at the moment.

September 26,2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

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