‘First Cow’ grazes into a long-winded but mesmerizing underdog story

“First Cow” – “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  – Albert Einstein Writer/director Kelly Reichardt grew up in Miami, Fla., but you wouldn’t know it from her films.  She set “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) and “Meeks Cutoff” (2010) in Oregon, a modern-day tale and a one from 1845, respectively.  2016’s “Certain Women” took place in Montana, and her new movie “First Cow” heads back to Oregon and the 19th century. Somewhere in the Oregon Territory wilderness, a quiet, reserved cook – appropriately nicknamed Cookie (John Magaro) – travels with…

Our 10 favorite Oscar nominations: 8. Paul Schrader – Best Screenplay

8.  Paul Schrader – Best Screenplay for “First Reformed” – Writer/director Paul Schrader wrote “Taxi Driver” (1976), “American Gigolo” (1980), “Raging Bull” (1980), “The Mosquito Coast” (1986), and “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), so a screenplay Oscar nomination for the man is way overdue.  The Academy finally recognized Schrader for his written work  about a reverend (Ethan Hawke) preaching sermons to a small congregation in rows of white pews, while black outlooks fill his soul in “First Reformed”. The film asks big questions within a small Upstate New York…

Go towards the unruly, raw comedy ‘Never Goin’ Back’

“Never Goin’ Back” – “I know that in my past I was young and irresponsible, but that’s what growing up is.”  – Lindsay Lohan Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) are young and irresponsible. They dropped out of high school, waitress at the Buttermilk Café, barely make ends meet, and begrudgingly live with other housemates, including Jessie’s brother Dustin (Joel Allen).  Ending their diploma-pursuits was not a terribly wise and graceful career move, but the girls stumble into a series of additional missteps that completely exasperate their delicate financial…

The twisted horror film ‘Hereditary’ will leave a permanent mark

“Hereditary” – Look up the word “hereditary”, and some of the listed synonyms are:  inherited, genetic and family. Obviously, children inherit their parents’ genetic makeup, and this carries a scientific connotation, because at its core, this transfer is purely and factually clinical. Family, on the other hand, implies a loving home, one full of life lessons, support, concern, and care.  The words inherited and genetic always occur with 100 percent certainty.  Meanwhile, a family that lives in a loving household is less than certain.  Love is always the hope, but…

‘Menashe’ effectively voices a familiar struggle in an unfamiliar environment

“Menashe” – “You must find a new wife.  She will run your household.  She’ll keep your home clean.  It will be a fine, pious home.” – Rabbi Yaakov (Meyer Schwartz) Menashe (Menashe Lustig) is a widower who lost his wife, Leah, about a year ago.  He lives alone in his Brooklyn, NY apartment but does not urgently feel the need to remarry.  Unfortunately, his rabbi (Schwartz) says that he must marry again in order to be reunited with his son, Rieven (Ruben Niborski). You see, Menashe is a Hasidic Jewish…