First Cow

First Cow ★★★★½

Is it already a tired assessment to refer to this as Reichardt’s “Moo-sterpeice”? You know what, I don’t care, because it most likely is exactly that. It is an accumulation of everything that came before it: the pioneer drama of Meek’s, the capitalistic commentary of (the very underrated) Night Moves, the male friendship of Old Joy, the gender role analysis of Certain Women, the animal/human bonds (+ frickin Wendy and Lucy!) of Wendy and Lucy. Plus, there’s a cow. It’s got everything one could want in a Kelly Reichardt movie, meditative, smart, and emotionally devastating all in one.

This film in particular expands the scope even wider, to include race, commerce, and labor in early America, but focuses primarily on the corruption of the American Dream. This world illustrated here is full of that. People here look at someone with new boots with all the lust of a roast on a spit. Everyone has dreams of getting better things and a better social standing, always scheming of ways to get it, ultimately exploiting those around them to achieve these goals (the presence of native culture here only heightens these themes too). Meanwhile, the rich assholes who own fancy estates and milk cows tries to rationalize straight up murder of an unruly worker to increase productivity. (I can see why Bong loves this movie too. It’s really a perfect American counterpart to Parasite).

But like all Reichardt, it ultimately comes down the the heart (or hardt). It’s devastating how someone with a beautiful skill like Cookie can be brought down by the by the coercive pull of ambition. And while King Lu prompts this wide-eyed business mentality, but he too is an intelligent, resourceful person just trying to make ends meet. They exploit both each other and their rich neighbor. But friendship eventually trumps all.

Also food... food trumps all too... Those Oily Cakes look damn godly. Maybe the original Portland hipster doughnuts (Shout out to Blue Star!). Here’s the recipes to those “cakes“ and the very French pastry Clafoutis for anyone who wants to steal their roommate’s milk and make some!

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