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Episode 189: It Won’t Fix Me But It Will Fix That

May 6th, 2016 | Robin

Patreon backer Kevin J. Maroney gets us started with an Ask Ken and Robin question about other designers’ mechanics we consider to be under-stolen.

The Tradecraft Hut takes on a recent story claiming that infamous Nazi military officer Otto Skorzeny ended his career as a Mossad assassin.

In the Food Hut we heroically accede to a request from Patreon backer Ethan Cordray to sip some liqueurs. No, wait, talk about liqueurs.

Finally backer Joshua Hillerup climbs the creaky stairs that lead to the Consulting Occultist to learn about the occult symbolism of flowers.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


From the magical land of sponsors comes Atlas Games, who with a twinkle of fairy dust revive their 2nd Edition Once Upon a Time clearance sale.

Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted.

You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

When you assemble your bug-out kit, make sure it includes a copy of Delta Green: Need to Know, the everything-you-need quickstart kick for the classic game of covert agents against the Cthulhu mythos, from our fine friends at Arc Dream Publishing.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Robots, Zombies, Prince, and Other Supernal Entities

May 3rd, 2016 | 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

Ex Machina (Film, US, Alex Garland, 2015) Like a classic SF short story, this film sets up a conflict around a scientific puzzle — how can we tell if an AI is self-aware — and then closes off options until something explodes. Domnhall Gleason, Alicia Vikander, and especially Oscar Isaac supercharge their deliberately iconic roles in this modernist take on Frankenstein. –KH

Recommended

Everybody Wants Some!! (Film, US, Richard Linklater, 2016) The fall of 1980 finds a freshman college ball player acclimating to the ultra-competitive household of his teammates and Austin’s many parallel music scenes. Linklater again demonstrates his mastery of experiential cinema, conjuring the ordinary excitement and comedy of life’s passages. As with Dazed and Confused, we’ll look at this in 10 years and marvel at the amazing cast of then-unknowns it assembled.—RDL

Green Room (Film, US, Jeremy Saulnier, 2016) Efficient siege horror pits a punk band against a ruthless white-supremacist gang led by Oregon club-owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart). Pacing a horror film must be harder than it looks, but when it’s done really well (as it is by Saulnier and editor Julia Bloch) it washes out flaws and leaves only adrenaline aftershock — much like a good punk song. –KH

The Human Microbes (Fiction, Louise Michel, 1888) Two arch-criminals, a well-connected pedophile and a doctor with a penchant for human vivisection, separately pursue the dispersed members of the Odream family and their revolutionary comrades. A primal scream of political fury in the ragged form of a science-horror pursuit thriller, bursting with violent imagery that still shocks today. Michel, famed for her barricade-mounting leadership role in the 1871 Communard uprising, wrote this during a later 5-year prison term, served entirely in solitary confinement.  —RDL

The Jungle Book (Film, US, Jon Favreau, 2016) Orphaned man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) incurs the ire of the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba); forced out of his wolf pack, he seeks his own way in the jungle. Favreau’s film is darker and more naturalistic than the animated 1967 Disney comic masterpiece it remakes, and a triumph of CGI and motion-capture. Bill Murray out-slackers even Phil Harris’ Baloo, and Christopher Walken’s gigantopithecus King Louie adds considerable menace. –KH

Purple Rain (Film, US, Albert Magnoli, 1984) If your only memories of this Prince film are from cable TV, like mine, try to see it on the big screen now while theaters have it in funerary revival. Not a terrific piece of filmcraft per se, but a truly mythic battle-of-the-bands movie and a weirdly compelling view of a music scene (and a movie style) gone for decades. Also, Morris Day kills as the designated villain. –KH

Good

Cooties (Film, US, Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, 2014) Aspiring horror writer (Elijah Wood)  does not expect his first day substitute teaching back in his Indiana small town to end up with his grade school students going on a zombie kill spree. Horror comedy in the Joe Dante vein could have used a joke punch-up session but is well sold by an ensemble cast including Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Nasim Pedrad and Jack McBrayer. —RDL

Modesty Blaise (Film, Joseph Losey, 1966) Freelance criminal-spy Modesty (Monica Vitti) battles louche villain Gabriel Fothergill (Dirk Bogarde) and her duplicitous MI6 would-be bosses over a diamond shipment. Wonderfully surreal feminist spy adventure almost escapes its dire music (worst of all a painful love duet between Modesty and a still-cockney Terence Stamp as her sidekick Willie) and Losey’s condescension to the comic-strip material. Worth watching for Vitti, Bogarde, cinematographer Jack Hildyard’s weird lensing choices, and the glorious Pop Art production design. –KH

Okay

Leviathan (Mack Bolan: Executioner #276) (Fiction, “Don Pendleton,” 2001) Mob-smashing hero Bolan gets inserted into an offshore oil rig to bust up a Mob-CIA meth ring but finds … Cthulhu? The book is a brief excuse for one long fight scene, which sadly follows the Bolan pattern of single-gun heroics rather than taking full advantage of the originality (and horror) of the high concept. It does manage to separate the standard racist tropes of the series from Lovecraft’s, though. –KH

Not Recommended

My Name is Modesty (Film, Scott Spiegel, 2004) Young croupier Modesty (Alexandra Staden, good but miscast) plays Scheherazade with a killer-thief (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), trading her origin story for hostages’ lives during a casino robbery. Shoestring budget and quickie production don’t help a weak script find its legs, though Staden does what she can. –KH

Robert W. Chambers, Maker of Moons: Author of The King in Yellow Unmasked (Non-fiction, Shawn M. Tomlinson, 2014) Enthusiastic fan project contains some facts. These must be sifted from an achronological jumble of possibilities, conjectures, legends, rumors, irrelevant opinions, an admittedly wrong theory, personal anecdotes and an imagined time travel interview. Given the paucity of information on Chambers, that’s more facts than we previously had, I guess. —RDL

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Episode 188: He Drinks Tables Under the Table

April 29th, 2016 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Patreon backer Bill Sundwall wants Ken to mash up two of his projects, The Madness Dossier and Night’s Black Agents, into one.

The Business of Gaming looks for the best ways to combat harassment within our community.

The Book Hut responds to backer Frank King’s request for a look at the work of Umberto Eco.

And finally we wonder what Ken’s Time Machine had to do with the 1825 collapse of the Fonthill Abbey tower.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Bend reality to your will, but be ready to pay the price, as Atlas Games’ Unknown Armies bubbles up from the supernatural underground for a weird and majestic new Kickstarter campaign. Now in its final hours!
Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

When you assemble your bug-out kit, make sure it includes a copy of Delta Green: Need to Know, the everything-you-need quickstart kick for the classic game of covert agents against the Cthulhu mythos, from our fine friends at Arc Dream Publishing.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Crime, Cops, and Supergirl

April 26th, 2016 | 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

Better Call Saul Season 2 (TV series, Vince Gilligan, AMC, 2016) Jimmy McGill moves up in the legal world, putting him on a crash course with the disapproving brother whose approval he craves but cannot have; Mike Ehrmentraut’s bid to protect his daughter-in-law and granddaughter draws him deeper into the cartel world. In its second season the show with the best written and acted two-hander scenes in TV achieves an even tighter focus.—RDL

Recommended

Available Dark (Fiction, Elizabeth Hand, 2012) On the lam after the events of GenerationLoss, burned-out punk photographer Cassandra Neary gets embroiled in an Odinist black-metal necromancy ring that somehow involves her ex-boyfriend Quinn. Hand’s combination of mythic power, sense of place, and emotional realism develop a crime novel that only shows the supernatural through its effects on flawed humanity. –KH

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 (TV series, Fox, 2015-2016) Insecure ace police detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) finds stability in his relationship with a fellow cop (Melissa Fumero) but still craves the approval of his boss. This year finds the show, still the best classic sitcom on network TV, seeing just how far it can push Andre Braugher’s preternatural deadpan.—RDL

KillingThemSoftly (Film, US, Andrew Dominik, 2012) Trio of small time crooks need killing after they foolishly knock over a card game, necessitating the services of hitman Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt.) A series of finely tuned acting duels featuring Pitt and the likes of James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ben Mendelsohn, interspersed with eruptions of hyper-aestheticized violence.—RDL

Supergirl Season 1 (TV series, CBS, 2015-2016) Adopted alien girl adopts her new planet and her media coworkers while stopping mean aliens for the government. Even if you’re not in the target audience of tween/teen girls and their parents, the combination of old-school DC fan service and fun characters doing (mostly) good should be enough to keep you watching. Melissa Benoist is better than her scripted lines, but that’s always true. –KH

Good

Maker of Moons (Fiction, Robert W. Chambers, 1896) Perfect loves made fleeting by supernatural barriers dominate this anthology of weird tales written at about the same time as the Yellow King cycle. Chambers’ juxtaposition of tightly observed mundane detail with the uncanny remains evocative even as he returns again and again to the same twist. Best candidate for little-known gem: “The Messenger.” Rating does not apply to title story, which contains Yellow Peril.—RDL [title story is also just plain ridiculous. –kh]

Okay

Berberian Sound Studio (Film, UK, Peter Strickland, 2012) Nervous sound engineer (Toby Jones) used to working on children’s programmes and nature documentaries travels to Italy to work on a horror film, only to find that the process of mixing its soundtrack takes on the emotional violence of its subject matter. Meta psychological drama styled like a 70s Italian giallo offers too much slow burn, not enough payoff. —RDL

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Episode 187: Honest and Dishonest Graft

April 22nd, 2016 | Robin

The Gaming Hut gets organized as we answer Patreon backer Samwise Crider’s question about tracking clues in GUMSHOE and other investigative games.

Backer Adam McDonald enters the Politics Hut for the 101 on machine politics—particularly that of Ken’s beloved Chicago.

Backer and colleague Hal Mangold grabs his popcorn in the Cinema Hut with his request for a getting started in Asian action movies segment.

Hey, it turns out to be another all-backer request episode, as Tennant Reed lurks in the Conspiracy Corner with his question about Italy’s P2 “Black Lodge” and its many associated tentacular crimes and mysteries.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Bend reality to your will, but be ready to pay the price, as Atlas Games’ Unknown Armies bubbles up from the supernatural underground for a weird and majestic new Kickstarter campaign.
Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. You say that’s still not enough Ken for you? Very well, my friend. His brilliant pieces on parasitic gaming, alternate Newtons, Dacian werewolves and more now lurk among the sparkling bounty of The Best of FENIX Volumes 1-3, from returning sponsors Askfageln. Yes, it’s Sweden’s favorite RPG magazine, now beautifully collected. Warning: not in Swedish.

When you assemble your bug-out kit, make sure it includes a copy of Delta Green: Need to Know, the everything-you-need quickstart kick for the classic game of covert agents against the Cthulhu mythos, from our fine friends at Arc Dream Publishing.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Alien Invaders, Italian Psi Horror and Body-Shifting Love

April 19th, 2016 | 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 Housemaid (Film, South Korea, Ki-Young Kim, 1960) Stern piano teacher’s tryst with the family’s obsessive live-in maid sends his claustrophobic household spiralling into mayhem. Acid-drenched domestic noir takes a chainsaw to class hypocrisies.—RDL

Recommended

Attack the Block (Film, UK, Joe Cornish, 2011) Barbarian thug (John Boyega) gains a moral sense while defending his South London council block against alien invaders. Bumping score, effective action, and tight direction overcome a simplistic script to drive in a genre triple. –KH

The Beauty Inside (Film, South Korea, 2015) Furniture maker who wakes up every morning in a new body of unpredictable sex, age, and sometimes nationality falls in love with a woman who struggles to adjust to his condition. Gently pretty romantic drama explores the emotional consequences of its fantastical premise. Adapts a 2012 English language interactive Facebook webisode dealie. —RDL

Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends (Non-fiction, Mary McAuliffe, 2011) Paints a portrait of life in Paris from the aftermath of the Communard uprising to the turn of the 20th century with vignettes of the city’s most notable cultural figures, politicians, and innovators. Solid, readable introductory survey of its chosen time and place.—RDL

Green Room (Film, US, Jeremy Saulnier, 2016) Punk band winds up trapped in a club surrounded by white supremacists intent on wiping them out. Tense, violent survival thriller starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Alia Shawkat, with Patrick Stewart as head bad guy.—RDL (Seen at TIFF ‘15; now in North American theatrical release)

How to Steal the Mona Lisa (Non-fiction, Taylor Bayouth, 2016) Complete and oh-so-gameable plans for detailed heists of six artifacts, from the Mask of Tutankhamen to the Crown of Queen Elizabeth II to oh yes the Mona Lisa. Straight-faced joy for the caper fan. –KH

Shock (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1977) 7 year old exhibits ominous supernatural symptoms after his mom and stepfather move back to the house she was living in when his father killed himself. Final film by the maestro of dreamlike horror finds him putting a more than overt psychosexual spin on the late 70s/early 80s psi-horror cycle.—RDL

Good

Black Camelot (Fiction, Duncan Kyle, 1978) In early 1945, a disreputable Irish journalist and a disgraced SS commando team up to exploit an ill-gotten list of British businessmen who had been too friendly with the Nazis once upon a time. Begins as a spy novel, then a crime novel, and by the time it turns into a war thriller — set behind the scenes of the final destruction of Wewelsburg Castle — you’re having enough fun to buy the contrived last act. –KH

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Episode 186: You Need Canapes To Have a Secret Society

April 15th, 2016 | Robin

Ask Ken and Robin gets especially educational as Patreon supporter Brent Brown asks us for tips for using RPGs to teach history, home school style.

Tradecraft Hut peers into the espionage scene in Brussels.

How To Write Good looks at influences and how to incorporate them well.

Finally the Consulting Occultist slakes the hankering of Patreon backer Stewart Robertson for info on the Black Dragon Society.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Bend reality to your will, but be ready to pay the price, as Atlas Games’ Unknown Armies bubbles up from the supernatural underground for a weird and majestic new Kickstarter campaign.
Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. If you’re like every roleplayer we know, you strive to outshine others in showing your love of dice. Well, now you can arouse the envy of friends and foes alike with Askfageln’s dazzling coffee table photo art book dedicated to all things pipped and many-sided, Dice: Rendezvous with Randomness. Luxuriate in the photo artistry of Mans Danneman. Grab the book or gorgeous prints through their Kickstarter!

When you assemble your bug-out kit, make sure it includes a copy of Delta Green: Need to Know, the everything-you-need quickstart kick for the classic game of covert agents against the Cthulhu mythos, from our fine friends at Arc Dream Publishing.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Sake, Sheba, and Momofuku

April 12th, 2016 | 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 Color Purple (Fiction, Alice Walker, 1982) Woman survives the abuse of her father and husband in the Jim Crow south to experience a sexual and spiritual awakening. In a bid to say something quasi-fresh about a pillar of the contemporary lit canon, I point you to the extreme economy with which it presents its Dickens-scaled narrative.—RDL

Recommended

The Birth of Saké (Film, US, Erik Shirai, 2015) Documentary takes us inside a 140-year old brewery that makes saké the traditional way, a process that requires such round-the-clock attention that the workers leave their families to live communally for six months out of each year. Gorgeously photographed portrait of an exacting group of people who take on the tough job of bringing sublime pleasure into the world.—RDL

A Burglar’s Guide to the City (Non-fiction, Geoff Manaugh, 2016) Examines the relationship between burglary and urban space, eventually casting burglary as a hack (or even a détournement) of architecture. Patchily edited and occasionally drifting into the faux-lyrical, it nonetheless — like the modern city — contains and offers endless possibilities for criminal adventure gaming. –KH

Everybody Wants Some!! (Film, US, Richard Linklater, 2016) Freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) arrives at Southern Texas University, and at several interlaced epiphanies, in 1980. More thematically focused (virtually every character is a college baseball player) than its ancestor Dazed and Confused, it invites experience (not least via the sous-vide that is the period soundtrack) rather than depending on plot. –KH

The Ezra Klein Show, “David Chang” (Podcast Episode, Ezra Klein, Mar 30 2016) Interview with the iconoclastic yet personable head of the Momofuku empire covers cooking, innovation, edible intellectual property, and the maddening complexity of food ethics. For my money the most illuminating sections address the tricky economics of the fine dining business.—RDL

Good

The Queen of Sheba (Non-fiction, H. St.-John Philby, 1981) Posthumously published raisonné of Arabian legendry about the Queen of Sheba devotes most of its space to the post-Q’uranic tradition of Bilqis, whom Philby identifies as a mythologized Zenobia. Neglects the Ethiopian and Talmudic traditions almost completely, but an interesting bagatelle even for non-Philbiacs. –KH

Not Recommended

Bends (Film, HK, Flora Lau) Woman (Carina Lau)  flails for a new footing after the sudden exit of her rich husband and his money; meanwhile, her chaffeur tries to figure out how to get his wife into Hong Kong to give birth there, avoiding the penalties of the mainland’s one child policy. Exemplifies the slow cinema style in which an underwritten script, uninflected performances and listless, elliptical pacing conveys alleged profundity. At least there’s Christopher Doyle cinematography to look at. —RDL

Sleepy Hollow Season 3 (TV, Fox, 2015-2016) Its delightfully kooky days long behind it, this year’s version of Ichabod and Abbie vs monsters struggles to integrate a group of deadweight new supporting characters, veers through a series of half-realized ideas and finally says “oh, the hell with it.” The two leads keep the show just on the brink of watchability even as it gives off the telltale tang of behind-the-scenes creative turmoil..—RDL

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Episode 185: I Don’t Think I Prefer That At All

April 8th, 2016 | Robin

Among My Many Hats is an Egyptian headdress with a distinctly feline aspect, as Ken talks about his installment of Ken Writes About Stuff devoted to Bast.

The Gaming Hut looks at ways to write scenarios to present the information about Game Master Characters GMs need to run their games.

Thanks to Patreon Patron Jeff Kahrs, the Tradecraft Hut finally gets around to that segment on Kim Philby it’s had on the to-do list since forever.

And finally, Ask Ken and Robin fulfills the desire of Kolbe and other Patreon patrons in bringing back the stars of our existential mystery, Brian Harker and Eric, the talking lava lamp he has grudgingly sworn to protect. Well, maybe sworn is a strong choice of words…

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Bend reality to your will, but be ready to pay the price, as Atlas Games’ Unknown Armies bubbles up from the supernatural underground for a weird and majestic new Kickstarter campaign.
Ken fans who did not partake of the Kickstarter can now sink their fangs into the general release of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. If you’re like every roleplayer we know, you strive to outshine others in showing your love of dice. Well, now you can arouse the envy of friends and foes alike with Askfageln’s dazzling coffee table photo art book dedicated to all things pipped and many-sided, Dice: Rendezvous with Randomness. Luxuriate in the photo artistry of Mans Danneman. Grab the book or gorgeous prints through their Kickstarter! In a move that surely violates someone’s security clearance, this episode is also brought to you by our friends at Arc Dream Publishing. The Kickstarter for Delta Green: the Roleplaying Game has come to an end, but don’t let that stop you from indulging your fever for this classic game, or that pinnacle of the Cthulhu game zine world, The Unspeakable Oath.

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: That Guy You Like Grimly Punches That Other Guy You Like

April 5th, 2016 | 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

Love  Season 1 (TV, Netflix Original, 2016) Dorky on-set tutor (Paul Rust) and radio producer with a troubled past (Gillian Jacobs) awkwardly grapple with their unlikely attraction. We’ve seen the nerdy, anxious male character a ton of times, but it’s the fully dimensioned way the female lead is presented, and a general sense of observational realism, that puts this comedy of discomfort on a higher plane.—RDL

Recommended

Hardcore Henry (Film, Russia, Ilya Naishuller, 2016) Newly awakened cyborg super-soldier shoots, punches, parkours and rail-guns his way through a legion of mooks to stop a telekinetic villain from assembling a world-conquering army. Every time you think this crazypants high-action extravaganza, shot entirely in POV, has gone up to eleven, it finds a whole new eleven.—RDL (seen at TIFF ‘15, when it was just called Hardcore; now in North American theatrical release)

Love & Mercy (Film, US, Bill Pohlad, 2015) 1960s Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) creates his greatest music as mental illness takes an increasing hold on him; his new car salesman girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) discovers that 1980s Brian Wilson (John Cusack) has been crushed by the influence of his control freak psychiatrist/legal guardian. Breaking the Wilson story into two parts, intertwining music biopic and escape melodrama, ably takes on the challenges of adapting a complicated life to film.—RDL

Narcos Season 1 (TV, Netflix Original, 2015) Crime drama follows the efforts of two DEA agents to take down Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) from 1981 to 1992. Moura’s slow-boiling charisma anchors the series — the gringos are thinner characters — against a robust verité backdrop of tech, politics, Colombian locations, and criminal empire-building. –KH

Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (Film, US, John Lee, 2016) Pee Wee breaks out of his small town rut for a perilous journey to New York City to attend the birthday party of newfound friend, actor Joe Manganiello. Return of a classic character strikes the requisite balance between ironic sincerity and sincere irony.—RDL

Good

Elsie Venner (Fiction, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, 1861) Handsome schoolmaster suspects that the eerily beautiful student nursing an unrequited yen for him might just be a lamia. Aggressive skimming of its overwritten passages of description and authorial pontificating reveals an oddly compelling uncanny tale in a romantic, American gothic mode.—RDL

Not Recommended

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Film, US, Zack Snyder, 2016) Reinterpreting the DC Universe as essentially Christianized Norse myth isn’t illegitimate, but you still need a script that makes sense and ideally more functioning scenes than one rescue and one fight. That said, the score (Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL), Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), and most of all Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) occasionally lift BVS out of the dumpster fire that writer David S. Goyer lit and Snyder fanned. –KH

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Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister