Not everyone is a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award-winning ode to 1969 Los Angeles, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” especially not filmmaker Kelly Reichardt. The indie director, whose pastoral buddy movie “First Cow” just opened in theaters from A24, told Mel Magazine in a recent interview her thoughts on the movie, one with a sensibility quite the opposite of her new movie.
“I just don’t understand [macho men] — I don’t get it,” Reichardt said. “It’s beyond my comprehension. Like, in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ the idea of the shirtless man on top of the roof — the white man who beats up Bruce Lee, saves the damsel in distress, and sets on fire the ‘scummy hippies’ — I’m just like, ‘Really?’ People love it, but I don’t understand, especially in the climate we live in, how the macho-man thing just keeps being interesting to anybody.”
Set in the 1820s American Northwest, “First Cow” does, like “Once Upon a Time,” feature two male leads. But the gentle dynamic between a taciturn fur trapper and a Chinese immigrant doesn’t feel particularly macho when compared to Tarantino’s bromance between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Reichardt continued, “The idea of white man as savior? Please — as if that has any relevance anywhere on the planet. Give me a break. How the semiotics of that — and the mythology of that in the world as we know it — can still exist is quite fascinating… It’s just not my world… It’s just not who’s there [in my movies]. I mean, clearly ‘strong’ men are the weakest people — isn’t the curtain been pulled back [on that]? If I should happen to come upon [that macho mindset], I’m more taken aback that it can still have any validity.”
Back in 2012, Tarantino put Reichardt’s revisionist western road odyssey “Meek’s Cutoff” on his list of the worst movies of 2011. Last year, Reichardt was on the Cannes Film Festival jury, where “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” world-premiered and went home empty-handed when the awards came around. Clearly, these two filmmakers don’t have a lot in common.
“First Cow” is now playing in select cities, and it’s currently garnering some of the best reviews of Reichardt’s career.