The Light Modifying of ‘First Cow’

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Welcome to The queue – Your daily distraction from curated video content from across the web. Today we’re watching a video essay on the gentle editing of Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow.

When I hear the phrase “women’s films are so much … softer”, something breaks within me. My mind starts racing with a series of blatantly brutal women-directed films: Claire Denis ‘Trouble Every Day, Melina Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s The Mustang … the list goes on and on. The implication that softness is an inalienable (and inevitable) feminine lens is problematic. Least of all because it minimizes (or takes for granted) female directors actively using a gentle touch on purpose.

Few directors (female or otherwise) deliberately exert such softness Kelly Reichardt. And her latest movie First cowis a sublime reassuring example of her ability to use compassion for narrative impact. The film is a meditative neo-western set in the Pacific Northwest. It tells of two friends who are trying to make it in America: Otis Cookie Figowitz (John Magaro), a humble cook, and King-Lu (Orion Lee), an aspiring farmer on the run from murder.

Of William TylerEvery ounce of First Cow works towards the smooth pace of Magaro’s absorbing quiet lead performance. And as the following video article explains, the same moderation is expressed in the editing carried out by Reichardt himself. The essay unpacks what it accomplishes by lingering recordings and often focusing our attention on background characters and the periphery. Ultimately, the result is a compassionate and contextual western that is rarely offered to the genre.

Clock “The gentle brilliance of working the first cow“:

Who did that?

This video essay was created by the Virginia-based filmmaker and video editor Thomas flight. He runs a YouTube channel of the same name. You can follow Thomas Flight and view his catalog of video essays on YouTube here. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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