Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Episode 271: The Friends We Met Along the Way and Ate

December 8th, 2017 | Robin

 

Hey, it’s an all-request episode!

Patreon backer Joshua Trowbridge entreats us in the Gaming Hut to return to a perennial puzzler: how to convince change-averse players to try the awesome new thing you want to run for them.

Patreon backer Josh Mannon summons us to the Cartography Hut, to explain that hole where the Kong Mountains used to be.

In Ask Ken and Robin Patreon backer Adam Grotjohn asks Ken and Robin if roleplaying games could be used to teach criminological procedure.

And finally Patreon backer Rick Neal has been hanging out next to Ken’s Time Machine, wanting to know why Time Inc. needed Kaspar Hauser dead.

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.


In Atlas Games’ wickedly different cooperative deck-building game Witches of the Revolution, you and your doughty coven fight the American Revolution the way it was really fought: with spells aplenty! Resurrect Ben Franklin, cure Paul Revere of lycanthropy and keep those red-coated witch hunters at bay.

The book has been written.The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

Delta Green Game Moderators, take heart! Reinforcements have arrived in the form of the Delta Green Handler’s Guide from Arc Dream Publishing, bursting with operational details, threats and eldritch history to keep your players locked, loaded, and terrified.

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Episode 270: Nobody Wants to be a Waistcoat

December 1st, 2017 | Robin

 

Patreon backer Doc Cross pulls his satin bell-cord to summon us to the Gaming Hut to mull the droll possibilities of P. G. Wodehouse gaming.

In the Tradecraft Hut we journey to the shadowy isle of Malta.

The Food Hut documents Robin’s conversion to the cult of Instant Pot.

And finally the Consulting Occultist fulfills the request of Patreon backer Paul by filling us in on the witches of Chiloe.

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.


In Atlas Games’ wickedly different cooperative deck-building game Witches of the Revolution, you and your doughty coven fight the American Revolution the way it was really fought: with spells aplenty! Resurrect Ben Franklin, cure Paul Revere of lycanthropy and keep those red-coated witch hunters at bay.

The book has been written.The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

Delta Green Game Moderators, take heart! Reinforcements have arrived in the form of the Delta Green Handler’s Guide from Arc Dream Publishing, bursting with operational details, threats and eldritch history to keep your players locked, loaded, and terrified.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Mystery Elephant Coins and a True Crime Masterpiece

November 28th, 2017 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

The Keepers Season 1 (Television, US, Netflix, Ryan White, 2017) Nearly half a century after their high school teacher, a nun named Cathy Cesnik, was murdered, her former students initiate a sprawling investigation into her death, and the abusive Catholic priest who may have been involved in it. Documentary true crime series becomes all the more compelling as its central mystery grows ever more complicated and contradictory.—RDL

Recommended

Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions (Nonfiction, Frank L. Holt, 2003) Elephant medallions discovered in 1887 and 1973 have politely roiled numismatic circles for decades; Holt lays out their provenance and controversy, and provides a theory to explain them that passes my Alexandrian sniff test — essentially, they were campaign coins for veterans of the Hydaspes battle. Excellent introduction to a recondite topic, ideal for refurbishing into an RPG seed. –KH

The Ghost Goes West (Film, UK, Rene Clair, 1935) Suave Scottish lord (Robert Donat) who must sell his castle tries to conceal the existence of its ancestral specter (also Donat), little suspecting that the American grocery tycoon with his eye on the place (Eugene Pallette) regards it as a selling point. Tellingly British take on the screwball comedy in which the joke is not that the nouveau riche Americans have gone silly and Europeanized, but that their affection for the old world vulgarizes tradition.—RDL

Invincible (Film, EU/US, Werner Herzog, 2001) In 1932, Jewish strongman Zishe Breitbart (Jouko Ahola) journeys to Berlin to make his fortune in the occult cabaret run by the mentalist Hanussen (Tim Roth). Herzog’s movie hearkens back to silent melodrama in its uncomplicated shots and Ahola’s guileless acting, which plays wonderfully off Roth’s oily Hanussen. Herzog mashes up history (the real Breitbart died in 1925) to create a not-quite-distant fable; buy a ticket and enjoy the show. –KH

Jim & Andy and The Great Beyond (Film, US, Chris Smith, 2017) Interviews with a now-philosophical Jim Carrey frame heretofore unseen backstage footage from the Man on the Moon shoot, where he remained obsessively in character as either Andy Kaufman or the awful Tony Clifton. Documentary only shows Carrey’s perspective, but to hear him tell it, he has finally recovered from the realization that he strove for and got everything he ever wanted—only to find it wasn’t enough.—RDL

The Man in the Iron Mask (Film, US, James Whale, 1939) Evil king Louis XIV (Louis Heyward) carries on hanging rebels and toying with the heart of the Spanish infanta (Joan Bennett), scarcely suspecting that his order to arrest a Gascon rebel raised by the four musketeers will confront him with his previously unknown twin brother. A piece set in the literal baroque period gives Whale full latitude for his baroque, frame-filling sensibility, plus a touch of the old Frankenstein days in the Bastille scenes. Screenwriters never use more than the barest whiff of the Dumas source material, in which the musketeers scheme against and betray one another, and it’s always interesting to see how any given adaptation rearranges the elements.—RDL

Good

Little Big Soldier (Film, Hong Kong, Ding Sheng; action director Jackie Chan, 2010) During the warring states period, a conscripted peasant (Jackie Chan) captures an enemy general (Leehom Wang) and tries to get him back home to collect a reward. Economical script provides a tonally consistent showcase for Jackie’s dramatic chops, but suffers from Ding’s arbitrary compositions and over-caffeinated editing.—RDL

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 11 (Television, US, Netflix, Joel Hodgson, 2017) The revival of the ur-nerd-riff show does everything it needs to do competently: a chunky, amiable comic (Jonah Ray) and two robots (Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn) make fun of bad movies. But it doesn’t capture either the anarchic glee of the early Joel years or the relentless comic pile-on cruelty of the middle Mike years, relying on a labored backstory featuring the two mad scientists (Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt). The core of MST3K has always been the riffs; let’s hope next season doubles down on that. –KH

Okay

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (Film, US, Zack Snyder, 2016) Thirty extra minutes and an R rating don’t repair the foundational flaws in this super-Ragnarok, but they do add coherence to the story, humanity to Clark Kent, and a name to poor Jimmy Olsen. At three hours, there’s still plenty to regret here, but Snyder’s visual sense at least has something more to play off of. –KH

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Episode 269: Egg Nog Related Time Travel

November 24th, 2017 | Robin

 

We’ve installed additional measures in the Gaming Hut to discuss security camera surveillance and how to stop it from wrecking your mystery plots.

Jump scares await in the Horror Hut as we look at the bogeyman and his pals, the evil spirits.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk to Someone Else, we chat with marketing guru and game designer Wade Rockett.

Which leads us to Ken’s Time Machine and a question from Patreon backer Derek Upham, who wants to know about our chrono-protagonist’s role in causing the Egg Nog Riot.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written.The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

Delta Green Game Moderators, take heart! Reinforcements have arrived in the form of the Delta Green Handler’s Guide from Arc Dream Publishing, bursting with operational details, threats and eldritch history to keep your players locked, loaded, and terrified.

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Episode 268: I Don’t Want to Say Tax Dodge

November 17th, 2017 | Robin

 

Make sure your copy of this podcast has been properly authenticated, preferably by a person in a pointy hat, as the Gaming Hut looks at forgery in worlds with truth magic.

Get your drama on in How to Write Good as we make sure that your scenes of interaction further the plot, instead of merely commenting on the action.

Then once more run your vicarious paws over the latest acquisitions to adorn Ken’s Bookshelf. Yes, our hero has been to Powell’s again and has the loot to show for it.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written.The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

Delta Green Game Moderators, take heart! Reinforcements have arrived in the form of the Delta Green Handler’s Guide from Arc Dream Publishing, bursting with operational details, threats and eldritch history to keep your players locked, loaded, and terrified.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Heaven, Asgard and Times Square

November 14th, 2017 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Counter-Attack (Film, US, Zoltan Korda, 1945) Trapped behind enemy lines in the basement of a collapsed factory, a doughty Soviet paratrooper (Paul Muni) and flinty spy (Marguerite Chapman) struggle to keep a group of German prisoners at bay. Wartime suspenser powered by tense scripting and a career-best performance from Muni. Even if it weren’t any good it would be worth a watch for its historical value as a Hollywood propaganda from the brief sliver of time when glorifying the Red Army made total sense.—RDL

The Deuce Season 1 (Television, HBO, David Simon, 2017) As a bar manager (James Franco) goes into business with an affable mobster, streetwalker Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) eyes the nascent XXX scene of early 70s New York as a way out and up. As he did to great effect in “The Wire”, Simon assembles a socioeconomic collage showing how a black market industry ties people together and bends them out of shape.—RDL

The Good Place Season 1 (Television, NBC, Michael Schur, 2016-2017) Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies and awakens in “The Good Place,” a sort of gated-community heaven run by its Architect (Ted Danson), even though she was actually pretty bad. You have to kind of love a comedy combining Plato and The Prisoner, or at least I do, especially given its commitment to narrative momentum via constant premise threat. –KH

Tattooed Life (Film, Japan, Seijun Suzuki, 1965) In 1926, a betrayed yakuza killer flees with his mooncalf aesthete brother to a remote mining community, only to find that trouble isn’t done with them yet. Suzuki, mostly known for subversive and/or experimental low-budget crime pics, here gets the resources to weave a sweeping traditional narrative, capped with a fine ballet of katanas and revolvers.—RDL

Thor: Ragnarok (Film, US, Taika Waititi, 2017) After Odin dies and his heretofore unknown death goddess sister shows up to devastate Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds that his journey back circuits through a gladiator world and a visit with a big green co-worker. Waititi finds not only the previously missing tone for a Thor movie (dry, behind-the-beat Kiwi comedy) but pulls off the impressive trick of keeping momentum rolling in a typically overstuffed latter-day Marvel flick.—RDL

Good

Big Bang (Film, South Korea, Park Jung-Woo, 2007) After losing his wife and his job on the same day, a priggish stickler teams with a small time crook to stage a revenge rampage. Buddy actioner increases the melodrama dosage as it accelerates.—RDL

The Posterist (Film, Hong Kong, Hui See-wai, 2016) Documentary celebration of Yuen Tai-yung, illustrator and designer of the most iconic movie posters of HK cinema’s 70s-90s golden age. On the production level this feels like an extended DVD extra, but is indispensable as film history and catnip to illustrators and illustration fans. Looking at Yuen’s work you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as the work of at least three entirely different artists, as if Jack Davis, Drew Struzan and John Alvin were the same person.—RDL

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Episode 267: The First Two Things are Metaphors For the Third

November 10th, 2017 | Robin

 

Gather in the Gaming Hut but keep an eye on who might be creeping up on you with a knife or candlestick as we riff a cast of murder suspects.

Ken then meets you in the Cinema Hut to report on what he saw at this year’s Chicago Film Festival.

In Ask Ken and Robin, Patreon backer Aaron Sapp wants to know how Ken’s famously anti-vampire views square with his work on Vampire 5th Edition.

We end on a Gallic switcheroo as Robin dons the mantle of Consulting Occultist to fulfill a request from Patreon backer Paul to talk about the Rosicrucian magician Josephin Peladan. Watch for his appearance in The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written.The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

Delta Green Game Moderators, take heart! Reinforcements have arrived in the form of the Delta Green Handler’s Guide from Arc Dream Publishing, bursting with operational details, threats and eldritch history to keep your players locked, loaded, and terrified.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Thunder God, Fairy Enchantress, Weresquito

November 7th, 2017 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Stranger Things Season 2 (Television, US, Netflix, The Duffer Brothers, 2017) Mixing James Cameron into their Carpenter-Spielberg blend, the Duffer Brothers aim for Aliens or Terminator 2 but don’t quite manage to make an 80s sequel that equals the first installment. Like Aliens, it swaps in action beats for Season 1’s paranoia and the uncanny, not a net gain. The story spreads a little thinner this time, but the characters remain both colorful period types and well and sympathetically drawn humans, which counts for a lot. Extra points of course for including 80s Chicago as the nexus of adventure that it was, even if that episode (like most of the Eleven storyline) could have been stronger. –KH

Wu Yen (Film, Hong Kong, Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2001) Feckless Emperor Qi (Anita Mui) and gallant swordswoman Wu Yen (Sammi Cheng) accidentally release the Fairy Enchantress (Cecilia Cheung), who interferes with their destined love by pitching woo to both of them. To’s journey into the crowd-pleasing schtick of the New Year’s comedy pays homage to a Chinese opera genre where women play the male leads as well as the female ones. Bundles clowning, gender gyrations, songs, martial arts, shadow puppets, and of course the semiotically essential fart gags.—RDL

Good

From the Lives of Marionettes (Film, Germany, Ingmar Bergman, 1980) Flashbacks and police interviews probe the motivations of a businessman who fantasized about killing his wife but instead murdered a prostitute. Deliberately uncinematic, dialogue-driven inquiry into the impossibility of human understanding finds Bergman at his most acidic and unsparing. Feel the pain of cinematographer Sven Nykvist, clearly instructed to strip every image of his trademark luminosity.—RDL

Joan Didion: the Center Does Not Hold (Film, US, Griffin Dunne, 2017) Loving documentary portrait of the essayist, novelist and screenwriter finds its emotional core in the personal losses explored in her books The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. Dunne, Didion’s nephew, enjoys access it’s hard to imagine any filmmaker getting from her, but the familiarity sometimes misses out basic story points. This would really benefit from the absolutely conventional talking heads montage at the beginning, for example, where we are told who the subject is and why she is important.—RDL

Thor: Ragnarok (Film, US, Taika Waititi, 2017) When Hela (Cate Blanchett) invades Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must act by going on a road-movie tour through about three signature Marvel stories including Planet Hulk for some reason. The best of the Thor movies, this one finally gets a perfect mix of science, magic, and beautiful pointlessness for Asgard, possibly thanks to the Mark Mothersbaugh synth score. Tessa Thompson’s feisty Valkyrie is great, as is Jeff Goldblum’s camp Grandmaster. That said, Waititi’s comic timing is uneven at best, the script loses steam and tension repeatedly, and Bing and Bob Thor and Loki are not. –KH

Weresquito: Nazi Hunter (Film, US, Christopher R. Mihm, 2016) After surviving Nazi experiments that turned him into the titular were-mosquito, John Baker (Douglas Sidney) hunts the mad scientist who created him. This no-budget black-and-white flick suffers from really terrible acting from the villain, but plays itself refreshingly straight rather than straining for tiresomely ironic camp effect. This could easily be a lost AIP monster three-reeler, although even Samuel Z. Arkoff would probably have sprung for an actual diner set. –KH

Okay

Brooklyn (Film, Ireland, John Crowley, 2015) Young Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) adjusts to a new life in the US. Affectingly acted comfort movie doesn’t introduce any real conflict until the beginning of the third act.—RDL

Guilty of Romance (Film, Japan, Sion Sono, 2011) A housewife’s frustration with her distant, austere author husband make her easy prey for a professor who moonlights as a prostitute and her pimp. Starts as psychological realism and escalates to extreme cinema, except the psychology in the ramp-up projects more male desire than credibility.—RDL

Not Recommended

Police!!! (Fiction, Robert W. Chambers, 1915) Self-regarding naturalist and oft-thwarted would-be swain Professor Percy Smith meets a series of deserved comeuppances as he investigates cryptozoological phenomena ranging from giant minnows to three-eyed men. Inexplicably titled anthology of dated buffoonery pokes fun at scientists, ad men, artists, and feminists, while resolutely not containing the menagerie of interesting creatures Ken remembers it for. Once again the proposition, “Surely in all of his prodigious output Chambers wrote something of value other than the Yellow King stories,” is answered with a resounding nope.—RDL

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Episode 266: Moral Crisis Dungeon Tile

November 3rd, 2017 | Robin

 

Evade lasting shame by joining us for tea and scones in the Gaming Hut, where Patreon backer Tom Abella asks us to riff on the subject of social spirals.

Sneak into the Tradecraft Hut for a look back at the career of WWII spy Jeanne Rousseau.

Ken has oft-spoken of the dire Bochcoization. Now Robin turns on the Television Hut to alert all and sundry to its heir, the inexorable Abramsification.

Finally the Eliptony Hut goes cigar-shaped as it unearths the shattering truth behind the Aurora Airship Crash.

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.


In Unknown Armies, Atlas Games’ modern-day, occult roleplaying game, you play the heroically broken people who conspire to fix the world. That conspiracy just got easier, with the arrival of the game on store shelves near you!

The book has been written.The book has been read. Now it rewrites you. Across time it spreads, creating dread new realities. And you’re in all of them. Robin’s epic new GUMSHOE project, The Yellow King Roleplaying Game has concluded its Kickstarter run, but is now available for pre-order at the Pelgrane Store for those who missed it.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

John Scott Tynes’ Puppetland is ready to knock the stuffing out of a game store near you in its gorgeous new full-color hardcover edition. Join the good folks at Arc Dream in battling the horrific forces of Punch the Maker-Killer!

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: This Dracula is a Dracula, This Other Dracula is a Rasputin

October 31st, 2017 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art (Nonfiction, Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, 2009) Account of the activities of John Drewe, who sold dozens of fake modernist works into the art market by infiltrating British archives and adding doctored documents to lend them credibility. Ably distills a narrative made all the more complex by its central figure, a pathological liar who prospered not on credible untruths, but through a thick and ever-shifting cloud of BS, all delivered with unshakable self-belief.—RDL

Stranger Things Season 2 (Television, US, Netflix, The Duffer Brothers, 2017) As Chief Hopper keeps Eleven under wraps, and thus separated from a mournful Mike, a vastly powerful shadow entity from the Upside Down gets its psychic hooks into Will. Sophomore seasons are hard, so it’s not surprising to see the giddy perfection of season one settle into the solid, if a tad diffuse, storytelling of this follow-up. Points for maintaining its affection for its characters, and for a supernatural genre tale where the protagonists actually share information with one another.—RDL

Good

Have a Nice Day (Film, China, Jian Liu, 2017) When driver Xiao impulsively steals a bag with a million yuan at knife-point from a courier for “Uncle Liu” it sets off an early-Tarantino-ish tour through the grifters and criminals and weirdos connected to Xiao, Liu, or the bag. Animated in strong line and color against detailed unmoving backgrounds depicting a grottily anonymous Chinese city, and scored with (not enough) pop music, it’s its own beast even if that beast is a shaggy dog. –KH

The Throne (Film, South Korea, Lee Joon-Ik, 2015) Having ordered him nailed in a box to die of exposure, an 18th century king (Song Kang-ho) recalls a life spent undercutting his son, who he deems insufficiently scholarly to rule. Stately melodrama assumes a close knowledge of Joseon era royal court law and custom; viewers steeped in Korean history may rate it a bump higher.—RDL

Okay

Dracula (Play, Timothy F. Griffin and Sean Graney, 2017) Arch farce and Clifford Odets-style social theater are both tough to stage, much less in the same play … and neither are what one might leap to as “how to best adapt Dracula.” Unsurprisingly, the result is kind of a mess. Breon Azell’s Dracula is at least excellent in a broad, unleashed-id role; Erin Barlow’s Alice Renfield relishes all the good lines as an ironic madwoman. (Playing through Nov. 5 at the Mercury Theater in Chicago.)—KH

R-Point (Film, South Korea, Su Young Gong & Kong Su-chang, 2004) South Korean platoon fighting in the Vietnam War seek the whereabouts of missing soldiers last seen at a haunted temple. Lacks the pacing or directorial assurance to realize the coolness of its weird war premise.—RDL

Rasputin the Mad Monk (Film, UK, Don Sharp, 1966) Wine-guzzling, sexually predatory Russian monk (Christopher Lee) uses his decidedly supernatural powers of healing and hypnosis to gain power as a favorite of Czarina Alexandra. In structure and style, this Hammer oddity is a Dracula flick reskinned with period drama trappings. TCM recently showed a print of this Cinemascope pic compressed to Academy ratio, making the already imposing Lee look about nine feet tall.—RDL

Not Recommended

Death Rides a Horse (Film, Italy, Guilio Petroni, 1967) Sharpshooter on a white horse (John Philip Law) hunts the gang that killed his family when he was a child, but an ex-con on a black horse (Lee van Cleef) wants them too. As crisp as Petroni’s comic-panel visual compositions might be, what really lingers in the mind here are the intermittent blasts of gratuitous and stunningly blatant, lefty, white-savior racism. This is what you get when your 60s Italian Marxist screenwriters try to inject social commentary into your cartoony spaghetti western.—RDL

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister