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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

First Cow

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video / Film & TV

Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow opens with a line from William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell: “The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.” The movie tells the story of Cookie and King-Lu, two mid-19th-century scavengers who partner up to make and sell artisanal snacks in rural Oregon. King-Lu has arrived in America from China, and dreams of amassing a fortune. Cookie, an orphan, is cunning and entrepreneurial. Together, under cover of dark, they sneak milk from a neighboring cow. Their eventual success is a testament to friendship, ambition, desire—and it serves as an allegory for contemporary economic and political issues. —E.C.

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