Photo Credit: Allyson Riggs/ A24
Director Kelly Reichardt on First Cow
Kelly Reichardt makes films that are undeniably beautiful to look at. The filmmaker often sets them in the Pacific Northwest where lush, verdant forests and sparse vistas have served as backdrop for stories about the human condition. Her films could be called quiet and typically don’t have a lot of dialogue or a neatly tied up “moral of the story.” But that doesn’t mean Kelly Reichardt doesn’t have something to say.
In particular, Kelly says her newest film, First Cow, deals with the ideas of ownership and the first seeds of capitalism. All that in a movie called First Cow. In the film we’re introduced to Otis “Cookie” Figowitz, played by John Magaro. He’s been hired to be a cook in a fur trapping group in the Pacific Northwest. Cookie is soft-spoken and not really at home in the Wild West. He’s barely capable of catching wild animals for supper. One evening he meets King-Liu, played by Orion Lee, hiding in the woods. King-Liu is a Chinese immigrant that has just escaped from his Russian captors after a revenge murder.
The two become friends and soon hatch a plan to steal milk from the first — and only– cow in Oregon in order to make delicious fried dough to sell at the nearby trading post. Their ambitions and the harsh boundaries of social and economic class butt heads throughout the film.
Kelly has been making films for over twenty years. As one of few female directors working in the indie sphere, her prior films, like 2006’s Old Joy, 2010’s Meek’s Cutoff, and 2014’s Certain Women, have attracted A-list talent like Michelle Williams and Laura Dern even if her films weren’t Hollywood blockbusters. Kelly says that’s just fine by her. She’s not interested in measuring her success by Hollywood standards. She’d rather be knitting.
Kelly sits down with Jesse to talk about First Cow, how she ended up in Oregon, and the prettiest types of cows. That’s on Bullseye!
Kelly’s film First Cow is available to rent or buy now, go check it out.
About the show
Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
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