Here is an interesting new release available now on cable and digital VOD as well as a new title currently available for streaming.
Video on demand
"First Cow": Director Kelly Reichardt has a very distinctive style. She often shoots in the boxy 'Academy ratio' of 1.33:1. She employs long takes and remains committed to a very naturalistic and minimalist approach to storytelling. Her latest story takes place in the early 1800s. Cookie (John Magaro) is traveling with a group of fur trappers in the Oregon Territory. He encounters a Chinese immigrant named King (Orion Lee) on his journey, and the two men strike up an unlikely friendship in what is otherwise a fairly unfriendly area where most of the settlers are strictly looking out for themselves. Before he headed west, Cookie worked for a baker in Boston. When he learns that a rich landowner (Toby Jones) has imported the very first cow in the area, he schemes with King to do a little clandestine milking of the cow under the cover of late-night darkness so that they can sell "oily cakes" outside of the local trading post. The film moves slowly towards the finish line and there is no question that Reichardt is an acquired taste, but patient viewers will be rewarded with a delicately heartfelt 19th-century story of survival. (Cable and digital VOD)
Also on streaming services
"The Assistant": Speaking of slowly paced movies, Kitty Green's narrative feature debut is a simply filmed, day-in-the-life story. Inspired by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, we follow a solitary day at work for Jane (Julia Garner), an assistant for an abusive, high-profile independent film mogul. One of the most inspired choices of the film is to never actually show the man for whom Jane works. We watch as she prepares his entire day, everything from arranging the paperwork he needs for meetings to unwrapping his lunch and setting it up for him on his desk. All the simple things that people with a certain amount of power could never be expected to do for themselves, she takes care of. We feel the impact of this man even though we don't see him. Jane has to cover for him on the phone when his wife calls as the male assistants in the office push the dirty work over to her. We hear him scream at her on the phone every time she does something that isn't to his liking. Smiling through the misery, Jane puts up with everything, hoping it will be a stepping stone for her career. Green depicts every aspect of this mundane job making the viewer wonder if it could ever really be worth it. Garner's performance is one of the year's best. (Hulu)