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First Cow

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In ancient times, they might have called First Cow, an allegorical tale of two culturally discordant cowpokes who join forces to carve out a culinary slice of the American dream, “Figowitz and the Chinaman” and played it for laughs. Hired as cook for a company of Oregon fur trappers, Otis “Cookie” Figowitz fizzles when it comes to keeping the angry huntsmen fed. His is a childly soul: in addition to aiding a baby lizard floundering as it tries to right itself, Cookie gives shelter to King-Lu (Orion Lee), a Chinese immigrant wanted for killing the man who murdered his best friend. Together with the help of a cow — the first one in the territory, imported from San Luis Obispo so that moneyed Brit Chief Factor (Toby Jones) might have milk with his morning tea — our duo of entrepreneurial neophytes are about to become the first Mrs. Fields outlet on the Oregon Trail. There are no doubt those who will find the film’s pacing relentlessly slow. in addition to directing and co-writing, Kelly Reichardt also edited the picture, leaving one to believe the cut is presented exactly as she wanted it. Nowhere near as ambitious as Wendy and Lucy, but the director arrives at a major personal awakening: a lead character who has finally come to trust a two-legged friend. (2019) — Scott Marks

Rated PG-13 | 2 hours, 2 minutes
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