Movie Reviews — Three in One (First Cow last)

At the Movies Blog
Three movie reviews.

This cow worked for scale.

During quarantine, many of my friends have been emailing, texting, or calling, asking about various movies they can watch. Of course, I tell them about the good movies. Yet when I was going through all my notes of various movie screenings I attended, there were many reviews I didn’t get to writing, and now the films are on various platforms. Here are three on Amazon, although I have to admit, none of them impressed me much. But hey…I wasted about six hours watching them. You’ll only have to waste six minutes reading my reviews of them, to find out why you should avoid them. First up is Making Babies.

I was thrilled to see Glenne Headly in this. I loved her in Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dick Tracy, and so many other movies. This was her last screen appearance. 

So, just as time travel is a concept always used on screen, for romantic comedies it’s often trying to conceive kids. And as you can imagine, every joke you think you’ll see in this, you do.

Katie (Eliza Coupe) has tried for many years, and her husband John (Steve Howey) seems more interested in conceiving a microbrew business out of his garage. Katie’s boss (Jennifer Lafleur) gets pregnant, which means there’s tension at the workplace.

It was nice to see Ed Begley Jr. show up as the fertility doctor. He has a great line about her uterus being the nicest he’s ever seen. And surprisingly, there’s a hysterical scene showing sperm that’s set out, and one where Katie goes into the room to…help her husband out…and exclaims, “This is like the set of a Saw movie.”  

Unfortunately, there were too many dumb scenes and situations that felt like a bad sitcom.

Jon Daly shows up as a New Age healer, and it’s cringe worthy in how bad it is.

Movies now seem to either have barfing scenes, or scenes with hallucinations during a drug trip. This had both.

This gets 2 stars out of 5, one for Ed Begley and one for Glenn Hedley (even though her over-the-top religious character was annoying).

This next movie should have perhaps been reviewed before one about trying to make babies — The Wilde Wedding. Well, it was wild seeing Patrick Stewart with a bizarre hairpiece. It was also a wild decision for them to play music underneath everything. That got annoying quick.

Eve Wilde is perfectly cast, played by Glenn Close. Eve is a retired actress getting into her fourth marriage. Stewart plays Harold Alcott, a novelist (that’s the perfect name for a writer, or a fashion designer). Fellow actor Laurence Darling is played by John Malkovich (great cast, I know). He’s joining his three grown sons at the wedding, as well as a bunch of other characters.

That means lots of petty feuds and romances. It also means you never really get invested in any of the characters. The filmmaker so wanted this to be The Big Chill or Peter’s Friends (Kenneth Branagh). A few of the other actors that make appearances include Noah Emmerich, Yael Stone, Minnie Driver, Peter Facinelli, Tim Boardman, and Jack Davenport. It would have been nice if, instead of assembling these great actors, writer/director Damian Harris would have hired another screenwriter. This gets 0 stars. Go back a few decades instead, and check out John Malkovich and Glenn Close together in Dangerous Liaisons

Now, the biggest movie of the bunch (at least, according to all the critics, with a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score), is First Cow.  I didn’t realize who Kelly Reichardt was when I sat down to watch this.  Her minimalist films are so awfully boring. Ten years ago I had to sit through her Meek’s Cutoff (Michelle Williams, Paul Dano). It was dreadful. This story also takes place a long time ago — it’s 1820 in the Northwest, and two travellers (Orion Lee and John Magaro) run into each other in the woods, and they team up to make money. They do this because a rich person (the always welcome Toby Jones), has shipped in a cow to get milk. These two steal milk and use it to make pastries that sell very well. My wife and I both wondered why, since they started making a profit, they didn’t just offer to buy milk from the man. Instead they keep stealing it.The other critics in one of my groups, that all loved this, just said “Well, he probably wouldn’t have sold it to them.” I disagreed, as the owner of the cow loved the pastries they made from its milk. But I digest.

As you’d expect, the two are discovered, and then they’re on the run. 

There were elements of the movie that were interesting. Oftentimes, I complain when a narrative doesn’t show me why a couple falls in love, or becomes best friends. That wouldn’t apply here, as this was a partnership built out of necessity and in 1820, it’s not like two people would both have common interests necessarily. Especially people from two different countries. And, it was neat how other characters were Native American, or of Chinese descent. Yet none of these characters connect in a way that’s meaningful to the viewer. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some tender moments, or a scene or two that is fun. It seems that there were some ideas Reichardt had with this story that could have been much more interesting if done well.

There were many shots in the film that were dimly lit, especially the scenes at night, making it hard to see things. 

It was nice to see Ewen Bremner (“Spud” from Trainspotting) and I believe the last appearance on screen from Rene Auberjonois (M*A*S*H and Odo from Deep Space Nine), but…how the hell was Sam Elliott not cast in this?

This was so underwhelming. I’m giving it 1 ½ stars out of 5. It gets an extra half a star since no cows were hurt during the filming. 

You can catch these three films on Amazon Prime. 

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