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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Literary Paranoia, Inspirational Wrestling, and a Flat Circle in Afghanistan

June 15th, 2021 | 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 Afghan Campaign (Fiction, Steven Pressfield, 2006) Grunt’s-eye view of Alexander the Great’s three-year campaign in what would become (but is always called in the book) Afghanistan deliberately blends modern language rhythms and sensibilities with classical history to create a “time is a flat circle” effect around Western warfighting in Afghanistan. Pressfield’s story somehow never drags or even much suffers from the weight of his quasi-historical consciousness. –KH

Be Natural: The Untold Story  of Alice Guy-Blaché (Film, US, Pamela B. Green, 2018) Documentary profile of a director/producer who made films in France and then the US in cinema’s infancy, with a prodigious output ranging from comedies to message pictures to melodramas to westerns and biblical epics. Research becomes a detective quest rescuing its subject from a memory hole created by sexism and the volatility of silver nitrate film stock,—RDL

Fighting with My Family (Film, US, Stephen Merchant, 2019) Cheered on by her irrepressible family of regional wrestlers, a young Norwich woman (Florence Pugh) pursues her dreams of WWE stardom—even after her brother fails to make the cut. Merchant’s finely judged observational comedy keeps the warmth of this inspirational backstage docudrama from curdling into sentimentality. With Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and, as himself, executive producer Dwayne Johnson.—RDL

The Judge and the Assassin (Film, France, Bertrand Tavernier, 1976) In Belle Époque France, a hardline magistrate (Philippe Noiret) interrogates a vagrant serial killer who proclaims himself God’s anarchist, hoping to implicate him without allowing grounds for an insanity defense. Historical drama lightly fictionalizes the Joseph Vacher case, counterpointed by its Dreyfus-era political context.—RDL

The Mercenary (Film, Italy, Sergio Corbucci, 1970) A self-satisfied Polish gunslinger (Franco Nero) offers his expensive services as a tactical consultant to an easily swayed Mexican miner turned revolutionary (Tony Musante.) Dialectic-questioning team-up is more of a romp than Corbucci’s other Spaghetti Westerns. Jack Palance steals the film as a smirking, hateworthy villain named Curly. Aka A Professional Gun.—RDL

The Names (Fiction, Don DeLillo, 1982) American expat “risk analyst” James Axton has lost his wife to divorce and maybe his livelihood to the CIA and can’t really believe either in a tour de force of interior monologue that sometimes becomes brittle dialogue while a strange cult is killing people for linguistic reasons, maybe. DeLillo puts aphorism and analysis and epistemology together with some remarkably true-seeming but literary-sounding characters, resulting in a surface all halts and half-admissions. The cult, I should emphasize, takes up remarkably little word count, so don’t go in expecting Lavie Tidhar avant la lettre. –KH

Good

The Spiders (Film, Germany, Fritz Lang, 1919-1920) Adventurer Kay Hoog (Carl DeVogt) incurs the enmity of adventuress Lio Sha (Ressel Orla), the field commander of the secret society The Spiders, when he investigates a surviving Inca city in Part One of this silent pulp serial. In Part Two Hoog and the Spiders duel to find the Buddha’s Head Diamond. The sets and set pieces in Part One amaze, while Part Two must make do with an arbitrary plot and some rousing action traps. Little of what we think of as characteristic Lang appears in this, his first surviving work. –KH

Okay

5 Card Stud (Film, US, Henry Hathaway, 1968 ) Laidback gambler (Dean Martin) tries to figure out who’s bumping off the poker players who lynched a card cheat, with suspects including a psychopathic cattle heir (Roddy McDowall) and the town’s enigmatic new preacher (Robert Mitchum.) Oddball mix of western and murder mystery with the ambling pace of the late studio era.—RDL

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Episode 449: Quietly Judging You

June 11th, 2021 | Robin

We venture from the Gaming Hut into a wider world of stashed items as beloved Patreon backer Carrie Schutrick requests the RPG angle on geocaching.

Estimable Patreon backers pool their resources in the Tradecraft Hut, where we gaze into the eyeless sockets of the CIA’s top secret asset—a mask of actor Rex Harrison.

Demon gods and their directional taboos trap us in the Mythology Hut.

Finally the Consulting Occultist profiles a genuine arch-villain of the occult, the Rasputin or Argentina, José López Rega.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Booze, Gambling, and Crime

June 8th, 2021 | 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

Bloody Nose Empty Pockets (FIlm, US, Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, 2020) Longtime habitues of a Vegas dive bar mark its last day in business with a marathon drinking session. Poignant fly-on-the-wall pseudodocumentary shows the mutual caretaking, as addictive as booze itself, that binds together a community of lushes. Joins the works of O’Neill, Goodis, Bukowski and Waits in the grand canon of American alcoholism.—RDL

The Gambler (Film, US, Karel Reisz, 1974) A massive debt to the mob prompts a gambling-addicted college professor (James Caan) to double down on self-destruction. You won’t find a clearer depiction of compulsive gambling as death wish than this unsparing American New Wave character study,—RDL

Pale Gray for Guilt (Fiction, John D. MacDonald, 1968) When his college buddy Tush Bannon gets in the way of a land deal, “salvage artist” Travis McGee deals himself in. There may yet be a Consume Media entry for “all the Travis McGee novels” but this one deserves to be singled out. Not only is the story a thoroughly satisfying double con squeeze play, but McGee’s self-image takes a few well-deserved knocks. This novel essentially spawned the whole “Florida crime fiction” subgenre despite being the ninth in the series. –KH

Philly D.A. (Television, US, PBS, Ted Passon & Yoni Brook & Nicola Salazar, 2021) Determined, data-quoting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his idealistic team attempt to use the substantial but limited powers of his newly won office to enact progressive reforms in a city accustomed to incarceration and extended supervision. In-the-room documentary roots for its subject as it reveals the exacting grind of confronting entrenched institutional power. Mine it for rhetorical strategies your GMCs can use when shutting down player character proposals that threaten their power. —RDL

Unbelievable (Television, US, Netflix, Susannah Grant & Ayelet Waldman & Michael Chabon, 2019) In Washington state, detectives browbeat a vulnerable young woman (Kaitlyin Dever) into recanting her account of an intruder rape; years later in Colorado, two cops, one (Merritt Weaver) empathetic, the other (Toni Colette) abrasive, team up across jurisdictions to investigate attacks with the same M.O. Dual chronology crime docudrama mixes social realist observation with a compelling deep dive into real-world investigative technique.—RDL

Good

Escapes (Film, US, Michael Almereyda, 2016) Blade Runner screenwriter, ex-actor and former child flamenco dancer Hampton Fancher retells his life as a series of self-lacerating anecdotes. Minimalist documentary profile of the man who saw that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? should be a movie conveys the feeling of hanging out in a bar for a night with a fascinating, rueful raconteur.—RDL

Okay

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Film, US, Patrick Hughes, 2017) Disgraced but top-notch bodyguard Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) must protect free-spirited hit man Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) before he testifies at the war crimes trial of the dictator of Belarus (Gary Oldman). Triple threat talent squandered on desperately routinized action-comedy, with half a good chase scene and a joyous near-cartoon-violence flashback celebrating Salma Hayek, the only person who actually bothered to show up for the filming. –KH

Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy (Film, HK, Jazz Boon, 2019) Two cops, one (Louis Koo) tightly wound, the other (Nick Cheung) also tightly wound, fight an international shadowy conspiracy that abducts children to train as sleeper agents. Handsomely mounted, overcomplicated globe-hopping technothriller partially redeems itself when it stages a gunfight and car chase during the running of the bulls at Pamplona and remembers what Hong Kong action movies are like. A thematic sequel to 2016’s also mediocre Line Walker, meaning that both have Koo and Cheung in them  —RDL

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Episode 448: Mice and Diamonds

June 4th, 2021 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we spitball scenarios that take place over a period of many years.

Fun With Science answers the call from beloved Patreon backer bt to examine Freudian psychologist Charles Seligman’s project to gather dreams from the many peoples occupied by the British Empire.

Good thing we just had a new bar installed in the Food Hut, because it’s time to tell the story of how 19th  century America invented cocktail culture as we know it.

Finally estimable Patreon backer Neil Barnes wonders why Ken’s Time Machine had to be used to neutralize the OTRAG project to launch cheaper satellite rockets from then-Zaire in the 1970s.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Capes, Cops, Copperfield

June 1st, 2021 | 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 Boys Season 1 (Television, US, Prime, Eric Kripke, 2019) When a corporate superhero’s homicidal negligence kills his girlfriend, a nebbishy electronics retailer (Jack Quaid) is drawn into a cell of operatives, led by a ruthless wetworker (Karl Urban), that fights to shut them down—while at the same time falling for the super team’s light-powered new ingenue (Erin Moriarty.) Unlike other revisionist superhero takes, this adaptation of the Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson keeps a moral compass or two in its tool kit. Antony Starr plays its psychopathic Superman/Captain America figure with multi-layered brilliance.—RDL

The Personal History of David Copperfield (Film, UK, Armando Iannucci, 2019) Twists of fortune pull a studious young man (Dev Patel) up and down a social ladder populated by lovable eccentrics and contemptible villains. Sunny, mad dash through the Dickens novel, performed with brio by Patel and a supporting cast including Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi and Tilda Swinton.—RDL

The Multiversity (Comics, DC, Grant Morrison & divers hands, 2015) Under attack by extracosmic embodiments of fear, the heroes of various Earths of the DC Universe investigate and fight back, alone and in concert. A classic Grant Morrison high concept riff on the Silver Age DCU, in which each Earth was another Earth’s comic books. Occasionally reaches true peaks of genius homage, especially in the Charlton-Watchmen story, the Earth-Prime Ultra Comics comic, and the Shazam! tale, but never dull or easily anticipated. A little too in the weeds for casual fans, maybe. –KH

Peaky Blinders Season 3 (Television, BBC, Steven Knight, 2016) As Arthur (Paul Anderson) looks for redemption and a way out, a sinister priest/spy (Paddy Considine) squeezes Tommy (Cillian Murphy) into a double game involving White Russian emigres. False suspense and other series-extending tricks start to creep in around the edges of the show’s narrative compression and big finish suspense.—RDL

We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption (Nonfiction, Justin Fenton, 2021) As the doomed effort to prosecute police officers for the death of Freddie Gray grinds through Baltimore courts, a much-lauded anti-gun squad boldly steals a staggering quantity of cash and drugs from the city’s dealers. Journalistic true crime saga exposes the lack of accountability at the heart of America’s policing meltdown, with a command of storytelling that more than withstands the inevitable comparisons to the genre-defining books of David Simon.—RDL

Good

The Burnt Orange Heresy (Film, US/Italy, Giuseppe Capotondi, 2020) Glib art critic (Claes Bang) brings his self-possessed new inamorata (Elizabeth Debicki) to the villa of a collector (Mick Jagger) who wants him to steal a painting from the legendarily reclusive artist (Donald Sutherland) living in his guest house. Crisp dialogue and characterizations elevate this art-world noir, though the script misses the point of the Charles Willeford novel it adapts, downgrading its anti-hero’s perverse intellectual motivation tof standard issue weaselry.—RDL

Let’s Not Meet (Film, US, Ryan Callaway, 2018) Pizza delivery girl Aya (Breanna Engle) gets drawn into bad doings in the woods, along with five campers she didn’t much like in high school. On its zero budget, this film accomplishes a lot: introduces a raft of characters you believe in and sort of care about, spins a creepy backstory with perhaps too much exposition, provides good slow-burn scares in places. The acting and lighting punch considerably above their weight; the editing and camera setups a little less so. Not quite Owlman great, but well above the microbudget horror average. –KH

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Episode 447: The Bert-Adjacent Ugly Wheels of Commerce

May 28th, 2021 | Robin

We start out in the Gaming Hut to tell your GM that the shocking premise subversion they have in mind isn’t as fun or cool as they might think.

A segment that had to hibernate during the pandemic is back! In Ken and/or Robin Talk to Someone Else, Ken talks to colleague Jeff Tidball about his Bert and Ernie dichotomy of creative collaboration, perhaps typified by their upcoming project, Band or Album Remix, soon or now at a Kickstarter near you.

In the Horror Hut, beloved Patreon backer Timothy Coram asks how to inject a heaping spoonful of Edgar Allan Poe into The Yellow King Roleplaying Game.

We end up in the Eliptony Hut, as TikTok convinces users to acquire that most cursed of crystals, moldavite.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Zombies and Cocktails (But Not the Zombie Cocktail)

May 25th, 2021 | 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

Peaky Blinders Season 2 (Television, UK, BBC, Stephen Knight, 2014) As the Shelby Company mounts a violent incursion into the London gang scene, Campbell (Sam Neill) returns to squeeze Tommy into a covert mission against Irish nationalists. Scripts show just how tight serialized ensemble storytelling can be, always jumping forward to the next big plot point, culminating in a bravura suspense episode.—RDL

Recommended

Imbibe! (Nonfiction, David Wondrich, 2007/2015) 19th century America’s invention of the cocktail as we know it kicks off with the advent of the ice industry, flows through San Francisco, and winds up in New York, topped up with showmanship and heaps of muddled sugar. Obsessive research and lively prose mixes food, history, and giddy anecdote.—RDL

Good

The Conjuring (Film, US, James Wan, 2013) After moving into a super-haunted house, the Perrons (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) call in demonologist Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his clairvoyant wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga). Wan puts together an update of the Amityville Horror style haunting movie from a hundred other films, getting nothing particularly wrong but achieving nothing particularly unique either. Wan plays it entirely straight, which feeds into the strong 1970s vibe he establishes — but squelches any brio anyone might have brought to this ghostly hotdish. –KH

Zombieland: Double Tap (Film, US, Ruben Fleischer, 2019) Six years after the first film, domestic frustrations send Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) on the road, and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) ride to the rescue. Achieves the medium bar of “The first film, but not surprising in any way,” while not precisely squandering Zoey Deutsch and Luke Wilson among other guest stars. Stay for the post-credits Bill Murray sequence though! –KH

Okay

Army of the Dead (Film, US, Zack Snyder, 2021) Billionaire hires badass Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) to assemble a team to heist his own vault, left behind in zombie-plagued Las Vegas, just before the government nukes the city. After a traditionally superb Snyderian opening credits/exposition sequence, Snyder settles down to chew this terrific high concept to mush with too many cartoonish characters in too many subplots. I can certainly understand Snyder’s desire to make father-daughter reconciliation the emotional hook of the film, but I can’t forgive his willingness to make both of them dumb as rocks. Someone somewhere will unlock the secret of strong performances from Bautista, but not this time. On the other hand, zombie white tiger! –KH

Crazed Fruit (Film, Japan, Kō Nakahira, 1956) A naive teen (Masahiko Tsugawa) who looks to his faster older brother (Yujiro Ishihara) to lead him into the world of girls and parties falls for a self-possessed young woman (Mie Kitahara) who meets questions about her home life with cagy deflection. An obvious, drawn-out conclusion deflates an alluring look at emerging teen culture, bursting with pressure cooker fifties eroticism.—RDL

Tesla (Film, US, Michael Almereyda, 2020) Visionary electrical engineer Nikolai Tesla (Ethan Hawke) spars with self-satisfied rival Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan) and is pursued by determined heiress Anne Morgan (Eve Hewson.) Formally unconventional biopic uses anachronism and info slides similar to the ones Spike Lee has taken up lately to overcome the hurdle of an utterly withdrawn central figure. Doesn’t quite work, but in its experimentation is more interesting than less ambitious films that do.—RDL

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Episode 446: Well Also H. R. Giger

May 21st, 2021 | Robin

An all-request episode kicks off in the Gaming Hut with beloved Patreon backer Chris Camfield’s request to follow up on a carelessly dropped side reference about realist F2O.

Esteemed Patreon backer Chris Melkus meets us in the Archaeology Hut to ask about a recent story of tomb robbing in China’s Shaanxi province, in which the culprits tunneled into ancient sites from conveniently situated restaurants.

Celebrated Patreon backer Gene Ha pops into the Narrative Hut to note that Robin often refers to the western narrative traditions, and asks about other narrative traditions we might take gaming inspiration from.

Finally, shadowy Patreon backer Dave from Washington enters the parlor of the Consulting Occultist hoping he may shed light on the appearance of Theosophical symbols on the control console in Ridley Scott’s Alien.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Wrath of Man, Succession, Kong

May 18th, 2021 | 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

Succession Season 1 (Television, US, HBO, Jesse Armstrong, 2018) When a cerebral event sidelines a domineering media mogul (Brian Cox), his esteem-deprived heir apparent (Jeremy Strong) makes a bid for control, variously abetted and thwarted by his siblings, a cynical political consultant (Sarah Snook), a scenester jackanape (Keiran Culkin) and a granola libertarian (Alan Ruck.) Slashing wit is the elevating factor of a Sirkian business melodrama that revels in the awfulness of its characters while finding pathos in, well, some of them.—RDL

Recommended

Awaara (Film, India, Raj Kapoor, 1956) Happenstance reunites a charming petty criminal (Raj Kapoor) with his childhood sweetheart (Nargis), now a law student whose pathologically judgmental magistrate guardian (Prithviraj Kapoor) is determined to keep them apart. And also, unbeknown to either, the disadvantaged suitor’s father. Foundational Bollywood musical melodrama features social conscience, expressionist visuals, and a surreal, mythic dream sequence dance number full of gods and demons.—RDL

Wrath of Man (Film, US/UK, Guy Ritchie, 2021) Robbery-plagued armored car company hires new  guard H (Jason Statham) but it seems he has another agenda. Remaking a French armored-car-heist version of High Plains Drifter with lashings of Seijun Suzuki and Heat seems to have given Guy Ritchie enough to do that he tones his manic style way down, matching the overlapping menace that Statham and composer Christopher Benstead bring. Jeffrey Donovan is a joy as the main heister, while Scott Eastwood seems to delight in playing the negative space around his dad. –KH

Good

The End of the F***ing World Season 1 (Television, UK, Channel 4, Charlie Covell, 2017) Alienated by her family situation, a stroppy teen (Jessica Barden) runs away with an introverted classmate who fancies himself a budding serial killer. Supplies the chemistry needed for an entry in the couple on the lam sub-genre, but with a structure that lands it in the nether zone between feature film and serialized TV.—RDL

The Servant (Film, UK, Joseph Losey, 1963) A manservant who is both more and less than he appears (Dirk Bogarde) insinuates himself into the life and psyche of his callow aristocratic employer (James Fox.) Chilly portrayal of the English class system as a study in codependency which, perhaps because it has to subtextualize its characters’ sexuality, executes its spiral into madness a shade abruptly.—RDL

Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness (Television, US, Netflix, Joshua Zeman, 2021) Journalist Maury Terry uncovered evidence that David Berkowitz did not commit the Son of Sam killings alone, and spun that out into a sprawling Satanic-cult narrative that eventually broke his life. Essentially four overlapping and under-argued docs, this series throws the usual Netflix quality at the wall but Zeman (who was friends with Terry in his later years) can’t really make it stick. –KH

Okay

Kong: Skull Island (Film, US, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017) In 1973, frustrated air-cav Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) escorts a team of geologists exploring the newly-discovered Skull Island. If you’re going to insist on making your giant ape movie a Vietnam War metaphor, try not to do it so heavy-handedly. Kong vs. Huey gunships is a truly great sequence, but there’s another 90 minutes of sententious blather after that. Johns Goodman and C. Reilly try to infuse the needed manic weirdness into this wannabe Apocalypse Kong but fail for lack of support and overall vision. Hey, it is a Vietnam War metaphor! –KH

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Episode 445: The Cavern of Boring

May 14th, 2021 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we provide tips enabling you to convince your fellow players to go along with your plans.

Beloved Patreon backer Jurie Horneman asks us to convene a Book Hut to talk about Robert Anton Wilson.

In Ask Ken and Robin, estimable Patreon backer Gabriel Rossman looks for a fictionalized treatment of the Bronfman family’s various brushes with cults and mysticism.

Finally we duck into the Conspiracy Corner and down the rabbit hole of the NESARA theory.

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.


Bears need hairstyles! Lumberjacks need beards! Be friends to both in Yukon Salon, a quick, humorous, family card game in a tin, from our snow-dappled pals at Atlas Games. Take Your Place at the Frontier of Style !

A murderous mystery lies beneath the gladiatorial arenas in the majestic, dragon-patrolled city of Axis. Only your first level 13th Age characters can confront it, in Crown of Axis, by Wade Rockett, now available at the Pelgrane Press shop.

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!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister