FIRST COW – Review by Karen Gordon

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Some movies deal with the settling of the American West as mythic. And then there are films like writer/director Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, which strips it down to its basics for a more human scale and poetic vision of the Western era.

Minus winners and losers, villains and heroes, this is a sparsely settled, muddy world where some people seek fortunes, and others do what they need day-to-day to survive.

Set around 1820 in Oregon, the story centers on two men who form a bond of friendship. Cookie (John Magaro), makes his living as a cook for hire. As the film starts, he’s working for rough men: fur trappers who are wending their way through a forest gathering pelts on route to the trading post to cash in.

Cookie briefly encounters King-Lu (Orion Lee), a Chinese immigrant/adventurer who is hiding out in the woods from a group pf Russian immigrants who believe he murdered their companion. The idea that King-Lu is a murderer doesn’t put Cookie off. King-Lu is naked, cold and hungry. Cookie gives him food and shelter in his tent. Continue reading.

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Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon is a film critic, arts journalist, radio producer, as well as a story editor and narration writer for documentary TV and film. Her recent project the IMAX film “Volcanoes: Fires of Creation” premiered in fall 2018, and will roll out internationally through 2019. She hosts, and does live Q&A’s at film events. She has ghost written three best selling cookbooks, with celebrity chef David Rocco.