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Grimoire

Episode 357: Thunder and Filk

August 16th, 2019 | Robin

Voices weary and brains bleary, Ken and Robin return from Gen Con 2019 to take their annual look at the state of the industry through the lens of the convention that invented roleplaying.


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.


Be cute! Be cunning! Be fierce! Most of all, be someone backing the Kickstarter for Atlas Games’ Magical Kitties, the roleplaying game of supernatural felines. Suitable for play with young childrens, it pits its four-footed heroes against robots, witches and more!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

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.


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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Fast and Furious Spins Off

August 13th, 2019 | 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

Daredevil Season 3 (Television, US, Netflix, Erik Olesen, 2019) A physically and emotionally shattered Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox) reverts to his proto-costumed persona to battle Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’onofrio), who has suborned the FBI into releasing him from prison. Hits Pinnacle status whenever D’onofrio’s amazing multi-layered Kingpin is on screen; drops to Okay at best when the writers are sticking to their conception of Matt as a petulant mope.—RDL

Forbidden (Film, US, Frank Capra, 1932) Staid small town librarian (Barbara Stanwyck) throws it all aside for a Caribbean cruise, where her encounter with a charming attorney (Adolphe Menjou) leads to a lifelong affair. Moving performance from Stanwyck abetted by snappy direction from Capra, who at this point in his career has yet to mask his essential bleakness with a thick layer of treacle.—RDL

Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) (Nonfiction, Jeff Tweedy, 2018) The Wilco frontman recounts his Southern Illinois upbringing, work as a musician and songwriter, painkiller addiction and tight-knit family life. Stays out of the weeds of individual recording projects, instead telling its anecdotes with humility and often a sharp comic vision.—RDL

Good

Hobbs & Shaw (Film, US, David Leitch, 2019) Alpha badasses Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) must team up to save Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) from killer cyborg Brixton (Idris Elba). A film directed by a John Wick alumnus set in the Fast & Furious universe should have better fight scenes and car chases — with the exception of the truly spectacular helicopter vs. truck chase, this doesn’t hit the best-of-breed level. But there’s something to be said for good-humored testosterone by the bucketful, joined to earnest sentimentality about family. –KH

May the Devil Take You (Film, Indonesia, Timo Tjahjanto, 2018) Young woman whose estranged father’s pact with demonic forces has come due heads to her childhood home in the forest, where she must protect her half-siblings from their mother, now inhabited by a Deadite. Inventive scares liven up a fun fright flick that invites the gonzo brio of The Evil Dead into the south Asian exorcism sub-genre.—RDL

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Film, US, Allan Arkush, 1979) Rebellious music fan (P. J. Soles) and her science-loving pal (Dey Young) run afoul of their school’s new authoritarian principal (Mary Woronov) in the run-up to a Ramones concert. Like a zine come to life, this scrappy product of the Roger Corman system celebrates female friendship and takes the rebellion of the teen flick to a cheerily explosive extreme. I put this on for a rewatch only to discover that I, bizarrely, had never seen it. Owned the soundtrack record and everything!—RDL

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Episode 356: Jealous of My Katana

August 9th, 2019 | Robin

Our annual Indianapolis hotel room episode begins in the Gaming Hut, where we find ways to be a lone wolf PC the rest of the players won’t hate.

In the Food Hut we look at our favorite cooking shows and why they make the list.

Patreon backer Bryan invokes his Tell Me More powers to ask how alien symbiotes would work as the main baddies in a Night’s Black Agents series.

Then the Eliptony Hut might also be the Tradecraft Hut as we sift through Australia’s famous Somerton Man case.

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.


Be cute! Be cunning! Be fierce! Most of all, be someone backing the Kickstarter for Atlas Games’ Magical Kitties, the roleplaying game of supernatural felines. Suitable for play with young children, it pits its four-footed heroes against robots, witches and more!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

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.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Battle of the Expository Rants

August 6th, 2019 | 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

Gunman’s Walk (Film, US, Phil Karlson, 1958) Prideful cattle baron (Van Heflin) protects his impulsive, narcissistic son (Tab Hunter) from a murder charge, further stoking his obsessive resentment. Western family drama of what the young’uns call toxic masculinity with a strong performance from Hunter in an uncharacteristic heel role.—RDL

The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (Fiction, Fredric Brown, 1953) Grounded by a rocket accident, obsessed and aging “starduster” Max Andrews throws himself into Senate candidate Ellen Gallagher’s plan to launch a mission to Jupiter. Set in a by-now-alternate future (1997-2001), this novel asks and answers the question: what does a Heinlein protagonist look like in a Fredric Brown world? The substratum of Brownian bleakness provides a surprising dimension to what is, on the surface, a melodrama between expository rants.—KH

The Plague Court Murders (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1934) A locked room and a sea of footprint-free mud surround the stab-ridden corpse of a phony medium. Henry Merrivale debuts in this early ultra-Carr-ish triumph, combining an impossible crime, gothic haunted-hothouse atmosphere, voices from the past, and family drama in a classic of Golden Age mystery. –KH

RBG (Film, Betsy West & Julie Cohen, 2018) Admiring documentary portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg intersperses scenes from her daily life with recaps of her early career as a litigator of sex discrimination cases. Finds the person behind a reserved demeanor and her recent quasi-ironic icon status.—RDL

Vacationland (Nonfiction, John Hodgman, 2017) Comic memoir explores the grown-up vicissitudes of life in rural Massachusetts and Maine, as contrasted to life in Brooklyn’s hipsterized Park Slope neighborhood. It helps to keep Hodgman’s voice in your head as he regales you with anecdotes of garbage dump rule anxiety, accidental boat ownership and stoned cairn construction with Jonathan Coulton.—RDL

Veep Season 7 (Television, HBO, David Mandel, 2019) Taking on and shedding the various invective-spewing operators in her orbit, Selina Meyer makes another no-holds-barred bid for the presidency. With real politics increasingly impervious to satire, this avoids the dreaded softening of final seasons to double down on comic brutality.—RDL

Not Recommended

Rider on the Rain (Film, France, Rene Clement, 1970) Pilot’s gamin-ish wife (Marlene Jobert) kills her rapist, covers it up, and is then hounded by a mysterious American (Charles Bronson.) After an intriguing giallo-influenced first act, turns into implausible characters at an interminable impasse over a convoluted situation.—RDL

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Episode 355: If Abstract Expressionism Doesn’t Do the Trick

August 2nd, 2019 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, we build on some recent articles by Robin to further explore a crossover between the surrealist adventures of Dreamhounds of Paris to the psychedelic spycraft of THE FALL OF DELTA GREEN.

Speaking of expanding on recent articles, How to Write Good provides tips for keeping your brain in gear for that most challenging of phases, the revision phase.

The Consulting Occultist doesn’t usually muss his smoking jacket in the realm of politics, but with Marianne Williamson running for President he has little choice but to roll up his sleeves.

We conclude on a retrospective note with a Cinema Hut examination of the first mega cycle of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, from Iron Man to Spider-Man: Far From Home.

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.

 


 

Be cute! Be cunning! Be fierce! Most of all, be someone backing the Kickstarter for Atlas Games’ Magical Kitties, the roleplaying game of supernatural felines. Suitable for play with young children, it pits its four-footed heroes against robots, witches and more!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

 

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.

 

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Once Upon a Time… in Ken and Robin Consuming Media

July 30th, 2019 | 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 Farewell (Film, US/China, Lulu Wang, 2019) Struggling writer (Akwafina) reluctantly goes along with a family plan to stage a fake wedding for her cousin back in China, so that everyone can gather around her grandmother, whose fatal cancer diagnosis they are keeping from her. Generous comedy drama sticks to real behavior without throwing in nonsense to heighten the stakes.–

Marjorie Prime (Film, Michael Almereyda, 2017) Worried as her mother (Lois Smith) slips into dementia, a brittle woman (Geena Davis) and her doting husband (Tim Robbins) set her up with a hologram (Jon Hamm) that simulates a younger version of her late husband. Hushed, absorbing stage play adaptation sets aside the usual and-then-everything-goes-horribly-wrong structure of AI stories for a dramatic contemplation of memory and grief.—RDL

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Film, US/UK, Quentin Tarantino, 2019) In 1969, cowboy actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo diCaprio) confronts his fading career, alongside his factotum Cliff (Brad Pitt), and next door to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Harnessing his meta urges (for the most part), Tarantino — along with his two leading men, who nail their roles — gives us a Western about the end of Hollywood. Only the last act is a little rushed and tight, depending too heavily on voice-over. It seems insane to say this about a 2¾-hour movie, but with an extra hour or so this would be a Pinnacle. –KH

Uptight (Film, US, Jules Dassin, 1968) Days after the MLK assassination, the alcoholic associate of a fugitive revolutionary succumbs to the temptation presented by the $1000 police reward for his whereabouts. Color-saturated pressure cooker of a movie transposes The Informer to the black militant movement, with which it entirely sympathizes.—RDL

Good

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Film, US/UK, Quentin Tarantino, 2019) Buoyed by his loyal ex-stuntman (Brad Pitt), an alcoholic TV actor (Leonardo di Caprio) faces career decline; meanwhile Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) enjoys life’s everyday pleasures in 1969 L.A. Tarantino conjures magic in the first two acts, a Jacques Demy inspired tone poem of cinematic cool, before an abrupt gesture yanks us back into a greatest hits of shock flourishes past.—RDL

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (Film, US, Tim Skousen & Jeremy Coon, 2016) Three Mississippi 12-year-olds began filming a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1982; they finished all but one scene (the flying wing) by 1989; in 2014 they reunite (sort of) to complete the movie. Amiable and earnest documentary follows this ludicrous story, sucking the viewer into its demented gravity without ever really having much of a reason to get made — in a way, apropos. –KH

Okay

Sky On Fire (Film, HK, Ringo Lam, 2016) Security officer (Daniel Wu) working for a murderous biotech magnate goes rogue to help a farmer get his sister a revolutionary cancer cure. I’d love to be able to make an argument for Lam’s final film, and there’s something interesting going on with the staccato pacing of exposition in its first act, but it never quite gels.—RDL

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Episode 354: It Ain’t That Non-Euclidean

July 26th, 2019 | Robin

An all request episode kicks off with a co-production between the Gaming Hut teams and our Tell Me More benefit for Patreon backers. Backers Mike Marlow and Kevin J. Maroney, seeing the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff capsule review of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’ graphic novel DIE, want to hear more. This expands into a wider discussion of how RPGs are depicted in fiction.

Backer Steve Sick beckons us into a mossy southern version of the History Hut, asking what we can do with legendary Louisiana governor Huey Long.

In Ask Ken and Robin, backer Polydamas points out that fun ruiners are trying to ruin the qi-lin, antlered magical creature of China and beyond. We restore the fun to this most benevolent of chimeras.

Finally, in Fun With Science, Drew asks us to examine another weirdo USAF proposal, which had them wondering just how many jet engines it would take to halt the earth’s rotation.

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.


Be cute! Be cunning! Be fierce! Most of all, be someone backing the Kickstarter for Atlas Games’ Magical Kitties, the roleplaying game of supernatural felines. Suitable for play with young childrens, it pits its four-footed heroes against robots, witches and more!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.


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.


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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Beanie Baby Heart of Darkness

July 23rd, 2019 | 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 Great Beanie Baby Bubble:  Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute (Nonfiction,  Zac Bissonnette, 2015) Eccentric, broken corporate outsider Ty Warner inadvertently sparks a grassroots speculative bubble with his obsessively designed beanbag creatures. Rich with anecdote and confidently told, this would be essential reading only as business journalism dissecting a briefly omnipresent marketing phenomenon. It’s as a human story, revealing plush, as its denizens call their trade, as a well of inexpressible despair, that turns this into a foundational account of its era.—RDL

Recommended

The Chef Show Season 1 (Television, Netflix, Jon Favreau, 2019) Director Favreau and L.A. star chef Roy Choi, his advisor on Chef, cook, eat, and hang out with pals including David Chang, Robert Rodriguez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Robert Downey Jr. An engagingly loose paean to food prep with a conversational energy recalling Favreau’s old “Dinner for Five” show.—RDL

The Far Cry (Fiction, Fredric Brown, 1951) Recuperating in Taos from a nervous breakdown, George Weaver becomes fixated on the girl murdered in his summer home eight years previously. A pure portrait of disintegration and obsession, combined with truly frightening alcohol intake? It must be a Fredric Brown noir crime novel! Even if you figure out where this one is going, you’ll stay locked in the car waiting for the crash. –KH

Madball (Fiction, Fredric Brown, 1953) Carnies scheme, kill, and betray to find the loot from a bank robbery carried out by two of their number. Brown switches viewpoint characters with each chapter, twisting his carnival crime yarn ever tighter in this tour de force noir. Almost a Pinnacle for me, and even more unjustly neglected than most of Brown’s work. –KH

La Marseillaise (Film, France, Jean Renoir, 1938) During the interregnum between the storming of the Bastille and the arrest of the king, a band of comrades from Marseilles joins the revolutionary army. Panoramic, human scaled historical epic set during the confusing bit of the French Revolution most cinematic treatments snip out.—RDL

Moonrise (Film, US, Frank Borzage, 1948) Man scorned all his life as the son of a hanged murderer kills a tormentor in self-defense, hides the body, and bonds with the man’s schoolteacher girlfriend. Wildly expressionistic style layers noir visual motifs onto a small town melodrama.—RDL

Sword of Trust (Film, Lynn Shelton, 2019) Exasperated pawn shop owner (Marc Maron) assists an underconfident woman (Jillian Bell) and her no-BS partner (Michaela Watkins) sell an antique sword whose provenance purports to prove that the South won the Civil War. Semi-improvised character comedy for our present period of dissolving consensus reality scores with Maron’s increasing assurance as an actor, and including one of cinema’s best monologues.—RDL

Okay

The Mourner (Fiction, Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake), 1963) Master heister Parker once again finds himself on the trail of a double-crosser, this time an Eastern European spy stepping out on his masters to rip off a traitorous colleague. The fourth installment in the Parker series goes a touch off-model, with a mid-novel viewpoint switch and Cold War shenanigans.—RDL

A Simple Favor (Film, US, Paul Feig, 2018) Straight-laced vlogger (Anna Kendrick) falls under the spell of a glamorous, devil-may-care fellow mom (Blake Lively), who then disappears, leaving her to care for a bereft son and stunned husband. This is at its most fun when it’s a stylish contemporary gothic, but jeez, pick a tone.—RDL

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Episode 353: You Can’t Say Eliptonic Without Tonic

July 19th, 2019 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut we deconstruct scenarios where the PCs have to wait for certain events to take place.

How to Write Good comes to the aid of Patreon backer Dustyn Mincey, who seeks guidance on the naming of people and places.

The Politics Hut gets drunk on codeine and loco root with a look at the connection between fringe politics and medicine shows new and old.

Then Ken’s Time Machine answers the call of backer Michael Dinos to rectify the disappointments DC Cinematic Universe.

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.

 


Be cute! Be cunning! Be fierce! Most of all, be someone backing the Kickstarter for Atlas Games’ Magical Kitties, the roleplaying game of supernatural felines. Suitable for play with young children, it pits its four-footed heroes against robots, witches and more!

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

 

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.

 

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Pagan Fertility vs. Eurotechnocrats

July 16th, 2019 | 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

DIE Volume 1 (Graphic Novel, Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, 2019) Former RPG group, scarred by an event from 1991, reluctantly reunites, casting them once again into a realization of the dark fantasy setting they used to game in. From its familiar player types to the heroes’ conscious immersion in a meta-text, presents a shock of familiarity by depicting the culture from within,—RDL (Full disclosure: the fifth chapter is named after a Thing I Always Say.)

Monsoon Diary (Nonfiction, Shoba Narayan, 2003) Memoir explores the role of food in the author’s life, from childhood in Kerala to university and marriage in the US. Sparkling, unfussy style evokes the rhythms of family life and the delights of cooking and eating.—RDL

Picnic on the Grass (Film, France, Jean Renoir, 1959) When the handlers of an artificial insemination proponent eyeing a post as European President (Paul Meurisse) turn his engagement to a stern Girl Scout leader into a rustic photo op, the primal forces of fertility send him into the arms of a vivacious vintner’s daughter (Catherine Rouvel.)  Satirical magic-realist romcom finds Renoir once again sending up the French aristocracy, now in its postwar technocratic guise.—RDL

Where I Was From (Nonfiction, Joan Didion, 2003) Blending social history with family memoir, Didion trains her distinctive asperity on her home state of California, placing its many transformations within a long tradition of rugged federal subsidy acquisition.—RDL

Good

Booksmart (Film, US, Olivia Wilde, 2019) On the night before high school graduation, inseparable pals (Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever) decide to make up for lost partying time and embark on a quest to find the hot bash all the cool kids are at. Gender-reversed answer to Superbad concentrates on affirming its leads, giving the choice comic business to a cast of adult sharpshooters (Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, Mike O’Brien.)—RDL

Chef (Film, US, Jon Favreau, 2014) In the wake of a viral meltdown, a stifled chef (Jon Favreau) rediscovers his love of cooking on a food truck road trip. A barely-sketched family bonding arc acts as the serving platter for a tribute to professional food service.—RDL

Nine Wrong Answers (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1952) A chance meeting impels Bill Dawson to impersonate the nephew of a rich sadist; true love, radio drama, and a deadly wrestler are only some of the curves in wait. In lieu of a series detective, Dawson becomes the Hitchcock-style protagonist of this thriller mystery. Carr occasionally footnotes likely wrong answers by the reader to keep the mystery boiling, but he’s just not comfortable enough in the thriller vein to skate past the “wait what” questions. –KH

A Woman’s Face (Film, US, George Cukor, 1941) A cynical blackmailer (Joan Crawford) undergoes treatment from a dashing plastic surgeon (Melvyn Douglas) to repair her lifelong facial burns, then finds that her aristocratic lover (Conrad Veidt) expects her to bump off an inconvenient young heir for him. Cukor classes up a script several shades more lurid than his usual assignments.—RDL

Okay

Stranger Things Season 3 (Television, US, Netflix, The Duffer Brothers, 2019) As Hopper (David Harbour) makes himself an obstacle to the young love of Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Elle (Millie Bobby Brown), the Mindflayer assembles a gooey new weapon against them. The pastiche becomes broader and more intrusive as it embraces the corny side of 80s mainstream moviemaking, devaluing the characters.—RDL

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister