First Cow (2020, Kelly Reichardt)

"What a sweet girl you are."
First Cow opens with Alia Shawkat (credited as "Woman with Dog") going for a walk along such a beautiful backdrop and discovering human bones buried in the dirt. We are never brought back to present day à la Gangs of New York, but I suppose that is fine. The movie's negative is 35mm and the aspect ratio is 1.37 : 1; for some reason when it was projected, it had a square 16mm look.
"Tastes like something my momma made."
I was struck how in touch with nature this film was: the plant life and the tenderness shown toward animals (when they weren't being killed or exploited). The narrative was strong albeit a little slow. The premise is that two opportunists, Cookie Figowitz (John Magaro) and King Lu (Orion Lee) steal milk from the only one cow (Evie) in town to make biscuits. At first, they're careful and then they get greedy. In addition to living among fur trappers, cruelty to humans is also explored: a baby is left in a bar for an undetermined period of time and a story is told about a man who received twenty lashes for mutiny. 

It's an interesting character exploration which is where director Kelly Reichardt excels. The characters are not limited to humans and the scenery is simply gorgeous.

Vegan alert:
-Squirrels hunted to eat and their lifeless bodies shown on table
-Jerky reference
-Men wear fur coats and caps and leather
-Man fishing with net
-Cow tied up on barge
-Man leads a squealing pig with rope (very possibly to slaughter)
-Man has oysters and clams for sale at market
-Girl is forced to carry a heavy pail of milk
-King rips parts off of sea creatures for food
-Men have a cow milking conversation
-Stolen milk
-Honey featured
-Reference to beaver pelts and later pelts are shown hanging up in the market
-Visiting captain (Scott Shepherd) is "sick" of salmon
-Totillicum (Gary Farmer) says that beaver tail is delicious
-Cream references

Vegan points:
-Cookie picks mushrooms and turns a salamander right side up.
-Discussion that trails off: "God would have put cows here if he would have wanted..."
-While milking a cow is inherently anti-vegan, Cookie would always talk to the cow and pet it while he was milking her.
-A man pets a duckling.
-The cow, Evie, appears in the credits.


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