Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 7, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 7, 2020

First Cow
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Available on disc and paid streaming

This unusual fable tells the story of a skilled baker living on the frontier in early nineteenth century Oregon who makes friends with an ambitious Chinese immigrant looking for a business partner. When the town’s wealthiest man imports the region’s first milking cow, the two sneak out at night to secretly milk the cow in order to make their fortune selling biscuits to the local trappers and townspeople. Largely a visual picture, with much of the action taking place in the dark or in seemingly gloomy weather, the film turns out to be an immensely interesting drama with an extremely unique narrative. Accomplished director Kelly Reichardt does an excellent job here of making this slow-burn story rich with detail about life on the western frontier. What truly makes the film work though are the complex performances from John Magaro and Orion Lee, whose quiet and synergistic relationship drives a highly unconventional yet simple story into unexpected territory. The major fault of the film is its dark palette, making many scenes rather difficult to see, especially in the nighttime sequences. It was an artistic choice I could have done without as it gets in the way of the storytelling, rather than enhancing it, which I’m guessing was the goal. B+

Rated R for disturbing violent/sexual content, language throughout, and some nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
Available on disc and paid streaming

If you normally judge a book by its cover – or in this case a movie – it would be in your best interest to take a deeper look into this one before making the plunge. From the poster, which features a rugged-looking Orlando Bloom carrying a large wooden cross, one could easily surmise that this is some sort of faith-based drama with a big star, but the opening moments would prove you wrong. Here, Bloom is an Irish ex-con whose literal job is to tear down churches in Ireland. But when he discovers that the priest who abused him as a child has moved back into their town, his life goes down an angry path of vengeance. I definitely have mixed feelings about the movie. Part of me is deeply empathetic for his character and understanding of his hatred and the need for revenge. I also think the filmmakers take the story to such a dismal place that it is distracting. But even with such disturbing material, Bloom is quite good in the role, which really shows off his acting chops. That being said, it is a dark path you must follow (maybe too dark for many) in order to make it to the powerful and unexpected ending. C+

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