Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Watchmen, Birds of Prey and Barry

February 25th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Watchmen (Television, US, HBO, Damon Lindelof, 2019) In an alternate present where Tulsa cops wear masks, the detective known as Sister Night (Regina King) investigates the death of her superior, leading to a bizarre conspiracy involving past generations of costumed adventurers and vigilantes. Densely layered, inventive, and packed with outre images and narrative surprises, this sequel to the original comic book shows a rare ability to build anew on the mythology of an existing work without just recapitulating it.—RDL

Recommended

Barry Season 2 (Television, US, HBO, Alec Berg & Bill Haider, 2019) As hitman-turned-actor Barry (Haider) tries to put his old career behind him its consequences keep catching up. Two manic episodes punctuate a turn for the interior, as the show attempts to dig deeper into its characters while still honoring the ridiculous situation they find themselves in. Not as fresh as Season 1, but still capable of surprise and shock. –KH

I Walk Alone (Film, US, Byron Haskin, 1947) Hair-trigger ex-bootlegger (Burt Lancaster) returns from a lengthy prison stint to discover that his proudly manipulative partner (Kirk Douglas) has no intention of honoring their fifty-fifty deal on his now successful club. Character-driven noir features Lizabeth Scott’s best performance as the perceptive chanteuse who forms the third point of the Lancaster-Douglas triangle.—RDL

Saint Jack (Film, US, Peter Bogdonavich, 1979) Bluffly charming expat panderer (Ben Gazzara) discovers that his ambitions to set up a bordello in wild early 70s Singapore run through the CIA. Atmospheric study of character, time, and place from the waning days of the American New Wave, co-written from his novel by Paul Theroux. Though even its thriller elements are played for mood, not suspense, the background details would be eminently mineable by Fall of Delta Green Handlers.—RDL

Good

Birds of Prey (Film, US, Cathy Yan, 2020) Dumped by the Joker, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) picks up the pieces and finds female friendship during a Gotham gangland takeover by Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor). Intermittently delightful fights and banter mesh only somewhat with a Gotham City gang story: Looney Tunes and DC have very different cartoon flavors that Yan and the script don’t always bridge or blend. Hong Kong does this stuff so effortlessly that it’s weird to see someone work this hard at it. –KH

John Carter (Film, US, Andrew Stanton, 2012) Former Confederate cavalryman John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) teleports to Mars and rescues Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and her planet from their fate. Remarkably decent adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel even manages to touch on the weird Theosophical flavor that powers it; Recommended for Burroughs fans. I suspect that for others, it’s a little too big and loose despite a Michael Chabon turn on the script. –KH

Two Men in Manhattan (Film, France, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1959) The search for a French ambassador missing from his UN post takes two of his countrymen, a hangdog reporter (Melville) and a boozehound photographer (Pierre Grasset) on a journey through the nighttime world of New York. A thin reed of a plot strings together episodes of beguiling crime jazz cool.—RDL

divider

Episode 383: Not Quite Doctor Cowboy

February 21st, 2020 | Robin

Longtime listeners know that “Start with Earth” is a Thing Ken Always Says. But in the Gaming Hut, beloved Patreon backer Nicola Wilson wants to know exactly where.

In the Conspiracy Corner estimable Patreon backer Steven Roman seeks bookshelf recommendations for all things recent and conspiratorial.

The Consulting Occultist continues to wear suspiciously Robin-like facial hair as we enter the penultimate edition of Belle Epoque magicians series, as inspired by The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, with the scene’s fun couple,  Moina and Samuel Liddell Mathers, of Golden Dawn fame.

Placed spoilererrifically at the end, in case your childrearing duties have prevented you from catching the flick yet, the Cinema Hut trains an analytical lens on The Rise of Skywalker.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Your survival depends on separating heisting criminals from undercover cops in Never Bring a Knife, the action-packed new social deduction game from our ever-sneaky friends at Atlas Games. Available from Jan 17th at your friendly local game store or online.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

divider

Episode 382: Health and Safety

February 14th, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we come to the rescue of beloved Patreon backer Keelan O’Hea, whose players have conceived the inexplicable desire for a version of GUMSHOE with more die rolling in it.

The Food Hut, of all huts, contains the first of this episode’s two Yellow King Roleplaying Game shout-outs, as we savor the career and influence of chef, restaurant operator and cookbook author Auguste Escoffier.

The History Hut finds Ken prowling the British Museum researching his upcoming Hellenistika D&D project.

Then the Consulting Occultist continues our series on the magicians of the Parisian Belle Epoque, as we drop into the shop of bookseller, composer and occult publisher Edmond Bailly.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Your survival depends on separating heisting criminals from undercover cops in Never Bring a Knife, the action-packed new social deduction game from our ever-sneaky friends at Atlas Games. Available from Jan 17th at your friendly local game store or online.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Heaven, a Hitman, and the Deadly World of Produce Sales

February 11th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

The Good Place Season 4 (Television, US, NBC, Michael Schur, 2019-20) Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) and her friends find themselves responsible for saving every human on Earth from the malfunctioning points system. In its intentionally final season, the show comes in for a glide path landing by switching its philosophical center from the nature of the good to the nature of the eternal. Schur nails the landing on the greatest narrative aerial act in television history. –KH

Recommended

Barry Season 1 (Television, US, HBO, Alec Berg and Bill Hader, 2018) Increasingly alienated hitman (Bill Hader) navigates an existential crisis by joining an acting class on the spur of the moment. This least likely premise for acidulous, perfect-pitch black comedy nonetheless delivers thanks to a deep bench of gifted actors and writing that tries to slip the jokes by you like curveballs. –KH

The Beach Bum (Film, US, Harmony Korine, 2019) Lovable alcoholic poet and Key West party figure (Matthew McConaughey) stays true to himself as he flees a variety of challenges to his lack of sobriety. Majestically photographed picaresque flips the bird to the redemption arc, and for that matter arcs in general. Isla Fisher, Zac Efron and Martin Lawrence show up to confound their agents with outlandish roles, with Snoop Dogg playing to type in his.—RDL

Blood and Black Lace (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1964) A masked figure in a black trenchcoat wages a murder spree against women associated with a modeling agency. With its sumptuous production design, hyper-saturated colors, and twisting, protagonist-free narrative structure, this combination of horror and murder mystery launched the giallo sub-genre into a local movie industry hungry for new templates to copycat.—RDL

Thieves Highway (Film, US, Jules Dassin, 1949) Returning veteran (Richard Conte) enters the cutthroat world of fruit trucking to get to the corrupt produce wholesaler (Lee J. Cobb) responsible for his father’s maiming. Adapted by A.I. Bezzerides from his own autobiographical novel, this presents as scathing a portrait of bare knuckled American business as studio-mandated happy endings will allow. Dassin leavens the proceedings with romanticism, symbolized by Valentina Cortese as the bad girl savior, clad in Hollywood’s most expressive coat.—RDL

Good

Image Makers: The Adventures of America’s Pioneer Cinematographers (Film, US, Daniel Raim, 2019) Documentary illuminates the careers of key early American D.O.P.s, including Billy Bitzer (Griffith), Roland Totheroh (Chaplin), William Daniels (Garbo and glamour photography), Gregg Toland (deep focus) and James Wong Howe (realism.) If there’s one subject matter that cries out for the documentary format, it’s this.—RDL

Judy (Film, US/UK, Rupert Goold, 2019) Out of cash and struggling with the pill addiction MGM gave her as a teenager, Judy Garland (Renée Zellwegger) hopes a long term gig in London will turn her situation around. Stylistically unadventurous biopic exists as a container for the very specific type of bravura performance awards season can’t get enough of.—RDL

divider

Episode 381: Anthropodermic Wallet

February 7th, 2020 | Robin

They tried to suppress it. They tried to contain it. They left it for months on a loading dock in Estonia. But now The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has made its final crack in reality by heading to retail. We celebrate with an all-Yellow King edition of Robin’s ambitious new game.

In the Gaming Hut, beloved Patreon backer Ken Ringwald obligingly asks how it tackles the age-old problem of time as a resource in RPGs.

The History Hut peels back the covers on the Skin Affair, a gruesome scandal that rocked Belle Epoque Paris in the wake of a sensational murder.

In Ask Ken and Robin, esteemed Patreon backer Ruth Tillman demands strange machineries for YKRPG’s Belle Epoque sequence.

Finally the Consulting Occultist resumes our interrupted look at the 1890s Parisian supernatural scene with a profile of the Martinist writer and salon organizer Papus.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Your survival depends on separating heisting criminals from undercover cops in Never Bring a Knife, the action-packed new social deduction game from our ever-sneaky friends at Atlas Games. Available from Jan 17th at your friendly local game store or online.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Good Place, Arrow, and a Feminist UFO Cult

February 4th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Ken is on assignment.

The Pinnacle

The Good Place Season 4 (Television, US, NBC, Mike Schur, 2019-2020) Challenged to improve the afterlife by guiding a fresh quartet of souls, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Michael (Ted Danson) discover that spotting the flaws in a system is easier than building one that works. The proof of a finale season is in the last episode, and the kicker here, a sweet and melancholy meditation on how happiness might itself be the saddest thing, concludes a remarkable series with understated brilliance.—RDL

Recommended

Arrow Season 7 (Television, US, CW, Beth Schwartz, 2019-2020) Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) says goodbye to old friends as he struggles for and against the Monitor, a cosmic entity guiding his sacrificial fate in an upcoming battle for the multiverse. It’s rare to see any season, let alone a final one, set so many hurdles for itself: welding a cosmic plotline to the show’s crime/spy baseline, putting its climactic moments in a multi-show crossover, weaving in a backdoor pilot for a spinoff, and papering over the absence of the series’ heart, Emily Bett Rickards. Yet if, as someone just said above, the proof is in the payoff, this always shaggy show in the end reaches for and once more captures the spandex-clad high emotion that made its key moments.—RDL

New Eden (Television, Canada, Kayla Lorette, Evany Rosen & Alyesa Young, Crave, 2020) In a bid to keep their 80s feminist commune together, the uptight and needy Katherine (Lorette) and charismatic codependent (Rosen), transform it into a UFO cult, which only accelerates its doom spiral. In keeping with hallowed Canadian tradition, this true crime mockumentary uses a playing style rooted in sketch comedy to plumb the depths of human desperation.—RDL

San Babila-8 P.M. (Film, Italy, Carlo Lizzani, 1976) A twelve hour period of trouble-seeking for a quartet of variously neurotic neofascist youths escalates from vandalism to serious bloodshed. Tense crime docudrama foregrounds the misogyny that unites its grandiose loser protagonists.—RDL

The Two Popes (Film, UK/Italy, Fernando Meirelles, 2019) In a debate bookended by two papal conclaves, conservative Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) rebuffs the attempts of Argentinean reformist cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) to renounce his post. Meirelles pulls out the full playbook of cinematic technique to bring wit, energy and warmth to a two-hander revolving around theological debate.—RDL

Good

The Bounty Hunter (Film, US, Andre de Toth, 1954) Acerbic bounty hunter (Randolph Scott) sets a booming copper mining town on edge with his hunt for stagecoach robbers even the Pinkertons can’t catch. I enjoyed this soothingly routine Western more than I can objectively argue for, chiefly for the pleasure of seeing Scott play a hardboiled private dick in a Stetston. Watch him solve the case using the GUMSHOE abilities Intimidation, Bullshit Detector, Flattery, Reassurance (a spend), Evidence Collection, and Interrogation.—RDL

divider

Episode 380: He Said, Foreshadowingly

January 31st, 2020 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, we show you how to turn otherwise inert scenes in a sandbox game into prompts for activity.

With the Academy Awards creeping up on us yet again, it’s time for us to sashay into the Cinema Hut to list our favorite films of 2019. 

Finally the Consulting Occultist returns to matters Rosicrucian as beloved backer, the Monster Talk podcast, asks for secrets of Christian Rosenkreuz’s legendary tomb.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Your survival depends on separating heisting criminals from undercover cops in Never Bring a Knife, the action-packed new social deduction game from our ever-sneaky friends at Atlas Games. Available from Jan 17th at your friendly local game store or online.

What’s worse—yet even more pulse-poundingly exciting—than being a burned spy on the run from an international vampire conspiracy? Going it alone, as you do in Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s brilliant adaptation of GUMSHOE One-2-One to the shadowy world of Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops, from Pelgrane Press.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ballard, Almodovar and the Whisperer in Podcast Darkness

January 28th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

The Atrocity Exhibition (Fiction, J. G. Ballard, 1970) A psychiatrist, or psychiatric patient, or rogue installation artist, named Travis, or Tallis, or Traven, stages a series of ultra-disturbing demonstrations, or interventions, or hallucinations concerning celebrity, the Vietnam war, and automobile accident eroticism. Kaleidoscopic and prescient, and still truly transgressive after all these years. I’ve written before about what the Dreamhounds of Paris surrealist Dreamlands might look like in the 60s, and well, exactly like this, right down to the direct invocation of Ernst and Dali and inescapable parallels to “Repairer of Reputations.”—RDL

Pain and Glory (Film, Spain, Pedro Almodovar, 2019) Sidelined by chronic pain, an acclaimed filmmaker (Antonio Banderas) remembers his childhood, reconnects with estranged figures from his past, and experiments with heroin. His color sense as expressive as ever, Almodovar frames a powerfully interiorized performance from Banderas with deceptively simple mastery.—RDL

The Whisperer in Darkness (Podcast, BBC, Julian Simpson, 2019) Following up on 2018’s Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the true crime “Mystery Machine” podcast ventures into the mysterious disappearance of Henry Akeley from Rendlesham Forest. Lovecraft’s tale was already the ur-UFO/contactee tale, and the addition of weird government conspiracies only juices the original story kernel. Purists may grump at the submergence of Lovecraft’s original climax, but they can’t complain about an insufficiency of audio trickery and cool stuff. –KH

Good

A Brighter Summer Day (Film, Taiwan, Edward Yang, 1991) In early 60s Taipei, a high school student flirts with street gang violence and falls for a seemingly demure girl with bad luck in boyfriends. Subtly told epic flags in its fourth and final hour, when it becomes apparent that the central character is less interesting than the piece’s overall evocation of time and place.—RDL

mid90s (Film, US, Jonah Hill, 2018) Young teen whose suffocating home life drives him to self-harm finds community by joining a band of hard-partying skateboarders. Dreamy slice-of-life drama delivers more charm than your average social drama pic, without quite managing a third act escalation.—RDL

Midsommar (Film, US, Ari Aster, 2019) Grief-stricken young woman (Florence Pugh) accompanies her feckless grad student boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his pals to visit an insular community in rural Sweden, whose charming folk rituals take a turn for the sacrificial. Holds interest with slow burn pacing and Kubrickian compositions but ultimately proves a long walk around the block for a cover version of The Wicker Man.—RDL

Okay

No Blade of Grass (Film, UK, Cornel Wilde, 1970) When a grain-killing virus plunges the world into starvation and Britain into anarchy, a stentorian architect (Nigel Davenport) and his family flee London for the north, descending almost immediately into murder hoboism. Brutal, crudely executed stewpot of social conscience and exploitation gives voice to the misanthropic strain of environmentalism. While the text laments humanity’s downfall, the subtext says the bastards had it coming.—RDL

divider

Episode 379: Stealth Out and Touch the Egg Wrong

January 24th, 2020 | Robin

That knife you smuggled into the Gaming Hut will finally pay off as we provide tips on playing the secret assassin character.

Patreon backer Tom Abella provides us a story Ripped From the Headlines, in which a baffling GPS-spoofing technology deployed on the Yangtze at Shanghai might be a cover for sand thieves. Or, you know, something weird.

In the Horror Hut backer Thomas Wolfe asks us to mull the works of weird fiction stalwart Clark Ashton Smith.

If it weren’t for Ken’s Time Machine, the megalosaurus might be known by another, entirely embarrassing name. Now he reveals what other interventions he staged, or is thinking about staging, in order to erase history’s insignificant but annoying details.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Your survival depends on separating heisting criminals from undercover cops in Never Bring a Knife, the action-packed new social deduction game from our ever-sneaky friends at Atlas Games. Available from Jan 17th at your friendly local game store or online.

What’s worse—yet even more pulse-poundingly exciting—than being a burned spy on the run from an international vampire conspiracy? Going it alone, as you do in Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s brilliant adaptation of GUMSHOE One-2-One to the shadowy world of Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops, from Pelgrane Press.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Chernobyl, Little Women, and the Birth of Modern Luxury

January 21st, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Chernobyl (Television, US/UK, HBO/Sky, Craig Mazin, 2019) Faced with the unimaginable catastrophe of the 1986 nuclear disaster, a politically naive nuclear physicist (Jared Harris) and bluff party official (Stellan Skarsgård) battle obstacles both logistical and systemic. Speaking of logistical challenges, it’s a miracle anyone got this made this at all, let alone executed it on the highest level of writing, cinema, acting, music and production design.—RDL

Recommended

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (Film, US, Eva Orner, 2019) Outlandishly wealthy yoga entrepreneur eludes justice for sex offenses against his trainees. Documentary presents yet another case study of a remorseless, charismatic fabulist who uses his intrinsic clownishness to bypass the logic circuits of his prey, supporters, and adversaries.—RDL

Cash On Demand (Film, UK, Quentin Lawrence, 1962) A bullying fussbudget of a branch manager (Peter Cushing) becomes an unwilling accomplice to the robbery of his own bank, at the hands of a bluff mastermind (Andre Morell) threatening his wife and son. Real-time, constrained location crime thriller from Hammer Studios is a model of tension-building from a tightly limited palette of elements—and an unconventional Christmas movie to boot.—RDL

Little Women (Film, US, Greta Gerwig, 2019) Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and her sisters (Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen) grow up in Civil War-era Concord, Mass. Gerwig’s script depicts the shift from warm yet rambunctious adolescence to sudden, constraining maturity with wit and generosity to her characters (and to the Alcott novel) but its flashback structure somewhat jumbles the arc. Gerwig again proves herself to be a real actor’s director, and with this standout ensemble cast (especially including Laura Dern as Marmee) she creates a thoroughly, continuously satisfying film. –KH

Ritz & Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (Nonfiction, Luke Barr, 2018) At the close of the 19th century, in London and elsewhere, the team of hotel manager Cesar Ritz and innovative chef Auguste Escoffier establishes conceptions of luxury and fine dining that still prevail today. A double biography cemented by strong character portraiture, social observation, and vivid food prose.—RDL

Good

Us (Film, US, Jordan Peele, 2019) Scissor-wielding doppelgangers attack a family at their summer house, awakening dark memories for mom Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o.) I wouldn’t have guessed that Peele would follow up Get Out with a movie about the dispossessed rising up to murder us in our homes, but he sure does demonstrate his mastery of horror-action staging.—RDL

Not Recommended

Overlord (Film, US, Julius Avery, 2018) American paratroopers assaulting on a Nazi radio tower discover that the base also houses monstrous super-soldier experiments. Spends too much time as a derivative war movie to develop its horror aspect.—RDL

divider
Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister