NYFF 57 review: – Kelly Reichardt’s ‘First Cow’ is a film about male friendship in the early 19th century.

First Cow

  • Kelly Reichardt
  • 2019
  • USA
  • 122 minutes

New York Premiere ·

Kelly Reichardt once again trains her perceptive and patient eye on the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking an authentically hardscrabble early 19th-century way of life for this tale of a taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) who has joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, but only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune.

Kelly Reichardt has a style all her own. You can pick out a film of hers within the first five minutes of long drawn out, beautifully cinematic shots. First Cow is based on the novel “The Half-Life” by John Raymond who is also a longtime collaborator with Reichardt. The story follows a quiet man called Cookie who is making his way across the Oregan territory with a group of fur trappers. Stumbling upon a clearly educated Chinese immigrant named King Lu, the men become fast friends in uncertain times. This film is essentially about male bonding in a time and environment that is driven by greed and aggression. The kindness and sincerity of our two leads, John Magaro and Orion Lee, bounds off the screen. You believe in their earnest chemistry. With Reichardt’s usual use of natural light and sparse dialogue, we are fully entrenched in the almost uninhabitable world these two men live in. At moments, this feels like a buddy comedy and I do mean that as a complete compliment. Some of the greatest moments in the script occur within the conversations between Cookie and the cow, itself. It must be mentioned the sheer number of wonderfully acted ancillary characters is mind-boggling. Sweet and funny, and bursting with charm, First Cow is something special in its storytelling.

https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2019/films/first-cow/

 

Netflix News: Brad Pitt & Tilda Swinton in teaser for ‘War Machine’ – available May 26th

Oh, Netflix. You are truly worth $11.99 per month.


An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

The Netflix original film is inspired by the book The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan by the late journalist Michael Hastings. Joining Pitt in War Machine is a highly decorated cast including Tilda Swinton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Will Poulter, Lakeith Stanfield, Emory Cohen, John Magaro, RJ Cyler, Alan Ruck, Scoot McNairy and Meg Tilly. Ian Bryce and Plan B’s Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt serve as producers. James Skotchdopole serves as executive producer. The film will be released on Netflix on May 26, 2017.

Review: ‘DON’T WORRY BABY’, Daddy’s got you.


Presents

DON’T WORRY BABYDon't Worry Baby poster

The modern family dynamic can be complicated, at best. With the divorce rate at 50%, blended families are more the norm than anything else. The idea of Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids and a dog no longer fits inside a neat little box. If anything, that’s the oddity now. In the new film DON’T WORRY BABY, writer/director Julian Branciforte takes this concept to a whole new level.

Struggling photographer Robert (Magaro) and his philandering father Harry (McDonald) realize that they each had a one-night stand with the same woman, Sara-Beth (Walker), in the same week. Years later, they realize that either one of them might be the biological father of her adorable four-year-old daughter. They begrudgingly agree to share fatherly duties while awaiting a paternity test.

Don't Worry BabyRobert and Harry are strangely pitted against one another for “father of the year” status, in an awkward competition of responsibility. Robert is not only navigating relationship normalcy but he is grasping to find happiness in general. Harry, in a sad attempt to outdo his son, uses demeaning words and actions to cut Robert down at every turn. Branciforte’s story is immensely compelling, offers moments of surprise and nothing but honesty. The performances all around are outstanding.

Dreama WalkerJohn Magaro‘s Robert battle self-loathing and confusion as he finds his way through career, life and love. This role for Magaro is proof that his natural talent is way more than enough. Chris McDonald‘s Harry is a self-righteous prick coming to terms with his own life long mistakes as father and husband. The performance is something I have to come expect from McDonald’s. There is a reason he has had such a long career. Dreama Walker, as Sara-beth, could have been a throwaway character. The ins and out of a quietly complex young woman were well played by Walker. As the film progresses, we become more and more invested in each role as Branciforte does a wonderful job developing everyone. To believe this story, this is absolutely necessary. With solid smaller roles filled by Britt Lower and Tom Lipinski, some of the film’s most shining moments come from Talia Balsam as Harry’s wife Miriam. The dynamic between Sara-beth and the woman betrayed is an unexpected one, but truly inspiring. Let me not forget to mention how fantastically darling Rainn Williams is as Mason, the young lady there is so much to do about. This little sweetheart is meant to be on the big screen. The chemistry between the entire cast combined with tight direction make this a winner.

Don't worry baby stillDON’T WORRY BABY is ultimately about making amends. Coming to terms with what we’ve created emotionally is a huge task, and it’s one that this film dives into head first. You can catch Don’t Worry Baby in theaters and On Demand this Friday, July 22nd.

In Theaters and On Demand
July 22nd

Starring
John Magaro (CarolThe Big Short, Woody Allen’s Upcoming Series)
Chris McDonald  (Happy GilmoreThelma and Louise)
Dreama Walker (CBS’s The Good Wife)
Tom Lipinski (USA Network’s Suits)
&
Talia Balsam (No Strings AttachedAMC’s Mad Men)

Written & Directed By
Julian Branciforte

Review: ‘The Big Short’ Delivers Big

TBS_1-Sht_Rated Teaser_2_eIf you were to ask anyone what the two scariest things that could happen to this country would be, my guess is that they would answer: terrorism and an economic collapse, both of which have become reality in the last 15 years. The latter is the subject of Michael Lewis’ non-fiction book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” which is now a feature film directed by Adam McKay. The film tackles the build-up of the housing and credit bubble during the 2000s and failures of the financial district which lead the market to crash, which serves a gut punch to all the experts who allowed it to happen. In short, The Big Short is a film that should become required viewing for all business students and politicians.

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

In 2005, hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale) stumbles upon a major discovery while researching loans bundled into highly rated mortgage bonds. Burry discovered that each and every one of these bonds was loaded with delinquent home loans that he believed would default over the next few years.  Knowing that Wall Street bankers and government regulatory agencies has no intentions of acting to fix this certain doom, Burry invents a financial instrument called the credit default swap in order to “short” the booming housing market, much to the dismay of his hedge fund’s owners and investors.

After Burry makes his bet at Goldman Sachs, Wall Street banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is informed of Burry’s strategy, and decides to uses this knowledge to persuade hedge-fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) that he too should invest millions in credit default swaps. Initially skeptical, Baum and his team (Jeremy Strong, Hamish Linklater and Rafe Spall) undertake their own investigation. Researching the housing market in Florida, they interview homeowners, realtors and mortgage brokers and discover that what Vennett has told them is true and that we are facing the worst economic crisis in decades.

Christian Bale plays Michael Burry in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

Christian Bale plays Michael Burry in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

While visiting NY to make their pitch their hedge fund to some of the bigger banks, money managers Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Geller (John Magaro) also stumble upon the housing-market bubble and with the help of ex-banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), use his connections to help them make their own bet against Wall Street. If all of these men are right,  they will make billions, while millions of Americans lose their homes, their jobs and their retirement savings; if they’re wrong, they’ll lose everything. The gamble against the U.S. economy is on.

The Big Short is nothing short of spectacular. The script by McKay and Charles Randolph keeps a lot of the technical aspects of Lewis‘ book in tact, but helps to assist the average film goers understanding of the subject matter with vignettes that are as much hilarious as they are informative. Director Adam McKay assembles one of the best ensemble casts in decades and each actor brings their very best to this important film. Steve Carell has never been better and turns in a stand out performance. Christian Bale captures the eccentric nature of his character perfectly and Ryan Gosling has perfected the art of ego better than any actor in years.

This is a must see film and an instant contender for awards season.

4 out of 5

After Credit Scene?

No

Trailer: