- Kelly Reichardt’s seventh feature moves confidently and quietly—she clearly knows exactly what film she wants to make and it shows—and it is patient, understated
- The film opens in contemporary times with Alia Shawkat with her dog (she could be Wendy from Wendy and Lucy in Reichardt’s little cinematic universe of these tales in the pacific northwest) in the finding some human skeletons in the ground (the shot of the river and ship/barge make you aware we’re in modern times) before taking us back into the 19th century prolonged flashback with John Magaro’s Cookie looking for mushrooms in a dense woods
- Shot in Oregon- at least parts in Oxbow Regional Park
- Roeper deftly points out that Rene Auberjonis is in the film as a cameo—he’s also in McCabe and Mrs. Miller and his appearance here feels like a homage to Altman’s similarly-themed work about the west. The style is vastly different—but Jarmusch’s Dead Man could be a companion to this film as well
- From A24—a logo almost guaranteeing what you’re about to watch is a good film at this point.
- 1.37 : 1 boxy aspect ratio, her first film shot on digital I believe as everything else has mostly been 16mm (35mm for Meek’s Cutoff) Reichardt doing her own editing
- Starts with a William Blake quote (another reason this film this is cousins with Jarmusch’s masterpiece) talking about how a man’s home is friendship. And indeed in many ways this is the warmest Reichardt film
- Cookie is a kind and gentle character- perhaps too much so for this time/place—not the kind of character you usually find in films—refreshing in that aspect
- Weathered wardrobe, authenticity in the décor, playing cards, cribbage board— Reichardt is clearly in love with the time, the detail of the routine— this is the scene in Umberto D (a silent scene of a girl waking up, lighting the stove, grounding the coffee) in the lineage of neorealism. She’s clearly the same astute director who ended Certain Women with the great scene of Lily Gladstone (also here in a very small role) tending to her routine in the horse stalls to finish that film beautifully — here they’re picking mushrooms, setting traps, chopping wood (through the window)—but also a tale of struggle, class, commerce and the American dream
Weathered wardrobe, authenticity in the décor, playing cards, cribbage board— Reichardt is clearly in love with the time, the detail of the routine
- Nice formal repetition in a few places—set shots through the trees or fall foliage obstructed, a great shot through an open window at least 3-4 times
Nice formal repetition in a few places—set shots through the trees or fall foliage obstructed, a great shot through an open window at least 3-4 times
- Consistent color- browns, foliage, dark oranges, dark yellows—from the cow to the mushrooms to the costumes
- Reichardt deftly tracks back and forth in the interior of Toby Jones’ character’s house
- Full circle ending – the skeletons together and the “I’ve got you” line— dead or sleeping
- Reichardt’s work is best viewed as part of a collection—like all good auteur cinema—and this is a very fine entry in her body of work- a clear companion to Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff
- Recommend/Highly Recommend border
Odd that this keeps coming up in best of 2020 lists and is somehow eligible for the 2021 Oscars. It had its wide release this year, but I don’t really remember the last time a movie premiered two years before the awards ceremonies it campaigned for.
@Declan – you’d be surprised. I didn’t think it worked that way neither, but there are many examples of this. Casablanca had a limited release in 1942, and then a wide release in January 1943, I think. And it received nominations for the 1944 Oscars. It happens I guess. Same with foreign films. La Strada won best foreign language picture of 1956, at the 1957 Oscars, albeit it premiered in 1954. However, movies get around quicker nowadays so the premier should normally be in the same year as the release.
@Declan— this happens every year to a fair number of films– First Reformed a few years ago– something will technically premiere at TIFF or some festival– but not get any real release until the following year. Every year online magazines have lists of “2021 films we’ve already seen” and stuff like that. Or on the top 10’s for 2020 parts of the world (where there wasn’t a release/availability) will have 1917, Parasite, Uncut Gems and others on their top 10. For my top 10’s I try to keep it to the year of the premiere. But I try to go back and update my archives (like I’m doing now) an incorporate films like First Cow into the lists.
Oh wow, well you learn something new every day! Thanks for clearing that up.
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