LWLies 89: The First Cow issue – On sale now!

In celebration of Kelly Reichardt, one of America’s greatest working filmmakers, and her extraordinary new film.


David Jenkins


Cover art

Steph Watts

People often say they “grew up” with an artist’s work. Which can mean that this work became meaningful at a critical time in life, or that the work became a trusted companion, arriving at handy intervals across a broader timescale. It’s coming up to 15 years since I first encountered the work of American director Kelly Reichardt. It was a London Film Festival screening of 2006’s Old Joy. I watched it at the keen, slightly hectoring behest of an industry colleague and, from that moment, have never looked back.

It’s massively satisfying to encounter each new work by this director of films which are perhaps a tad too subtle and delicate to puncture the mainstream (and they are clearly not made with that function in mind). Yet under these placid surfaces lay great riches for those willing to plunge for them. Her latest, First Cow, is no different, a miniature epic which chronicles a fast male friendship, a burgeoning baking empire on the American frontier, and then takes a bittersweet turn into more metaphysical climes.

In this issue, we celebrate the world of Kelly Reichardt by embracing her love of natural landscapes on screen, and also talking to some of her longtime collaborators, including author Jon Raymond and alt rock icon, Will Oldham. And as a special little side-project, we’ve included an alternative history of the New Hollywood cinema of the late ’60s and ’70s as told through a variety of wondrous baked goods created by some of our most gifted collaborators.

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On the cover

The embroidered cover is by Steph Watts, inspired by the hand-wrought quality of Reichardt’s films, but also intended as a gorgeous piece of craft that might exist within the world of First Cow itself. From conception to completion, the piece took just under a month to create, and we sincerely hope that Steph was wearing a thimble to prevent any stitching-based injury.

Illustrators featured in this issue: Stéphanie Sergeant, Hazel Mason, Ruthie Gibbs, Elena Mompó, and Robin Goodwin.

In this issue

Horizon’s West
Kelly Reichardt in conversation with Christina Newland, as the pair discuss modern conceptions of the western and the enduring value of old-fashioned craft.

Dear Jon
Caitlin Quinlan speaks to Reichardt’s longtime screenwriting collaborator who has provided the narrative seed for the majority of her movies – including First Cow.

Will Power
Adam Woodward meets the vaunted songsmith to discuss his early roles in Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, and some of his other brief incursions into the world of film – including a Kanye West music promo.

Chirp Thrills
Kelly Reichardt goes to great pains to make sure the birdsong in her movies is geographically and temporally authentic. Jake Cunningham goes on a journey to look at the cinematic uses of birdsong.

The Sky Is Not the Limit
A new book picks apart James Benning’s 2004 film Ten Skies – which is ten shots of skyscapes. Matt Turner meets its author, Dr Erika Balsom, to discuss the crossover between the natural world and experimental film.

The New Hollywood Bake Off
Seven cherished LWLies collaborators create delicious and aesthetically-striking baked comestibles in homage to the films of the New Hollywood era.

In the back section

Prano Bailey-Bond
The director of the brilliant Censor discusses her formative influences, recreating the 1980s and her mortal fear of Simon Bates with Hannah Strong.

Video Nasties – ranked
Cannibals! Nazis! Cannibal Nazis! Every single film banned under the 1984 Video Recording act ranked from worst to best.

Amir El-Masry
Elena Lazic talks to the British-Egyptian star of Ben Sharrock’s refugee comedy Limbo who reveals his amazing entry into the world of acting.

Joanna Scanlan
The star of the moving new British drama After Love discusses with David Jenkins why she loves straight drama more than comedy.

Cathy Brady
The director of Wildfire speaks to Ella Kemp about the tragedy of losing her leading lady to illness just after filming wrapped.

Ousmane Sembène
As his fantastic 1968 film Mandabi is re-released and restored, Leila Latif pens an introduction to this Senegalese filmmaker whose work is still fairly hard to come by.

The Underground Railroad
Rōgan Graham reviews the new TV series directed by Barry Jenkins, adapted from the Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead.

In review

Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor
Gorō Miyazaki’s Earwig and the Witch
Robert Altman’s Nashville
Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth
Anna Kerrigan’s Cowboys
Lance Oppenheim’s Some Kind of Heaven
Ben Sharrock’s Limbo
Viktor Kossakovsky’s Gunda
Mark Isaacs’ The Filmmaker’s House
Aneil Karia’s Surge
Ira Sachs’ Frankie
Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby
Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven
Aleem Khan’s After Love
Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin
Dror Moreh’s The Human Factor
Riccardo Servini and Nick Taussig’s A Space in Time
Zoe Wittock’s Jumbo
Michel Franco’s New Order
Philippe Falardeau’s My New York Year
Cathy Brady’s Wildfire
Monica Zanetti’s Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt)
Filippo Meneghetti’s Two of Us
Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid’s Shorta

LWLies 89 is available to order online now from our online shop. Become a Member or subscribe today to make sure you never miss an issue.

Published 5 May 2021

Tags: First Cow Kelly Reichardt

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Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.