Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Animals, Real and Imaginary

February 27th, 2018 | 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.


Black Panther (Film, US, Ryan Coogler, 2018) As T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) ascends to the throne of Wakanda, a reckoning with paternal sins awaits him in the form of insurrection-minded ex-special forces soldier Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan.) Freed from the constraints of the origin story structure, this seamless blend of Bond flick, Arthurian intrigue and Afrocentric social consciousness sings from start to finish.—RDL

Happy! Season 1 (Television, US, Brian Taylor & Grant Morrison, SYFY, 2016-2017) Degenerate ex-cop (Christopher Meloni, in a performance melding the Bad Lieutenant with Wile E. Coyote) searches for his kidnapped daughter, aided by her imaginary friend, the titular blue flying cartoon unicorn (voiced by Patton Oswalt.) Hyperviolent supernatural action comedy delivers the twisted midnight movie sensibility you’d expect from a team-up between Morrison and half of the Crank team. I’m not saying this is the  Unknown Armies TV show, but it sure could be happening in that universe.—RDL

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Film, UK/US, 2017) Rage-filled gift shop clerk (Frances McDormand) riles her small town by buying the titular ad space to spur a stalled investigation into her daughter’s murder. Tricky anti-fable of revenge and vigilantism that encourages the viewer to misread it, aided by the chasm between the moral authority of McDormand’s performance and everything we see her character do.—RDL

Planet Earth II (Television, BBC, 2016) Stunningly photographed animals across five key habitat types struggle to mate, protect offspring, eat and avoid being eaten. As rich with artifice and convention as any baroque opera, this natural history extravaganza, granted emotional weight by another gloriously quavery David Attenborough vocal performance, sumptuously rewards an interest in wildlife and in the capabilities of one’s 4K television.—RDL


The Art of Choosing (Nonfiction, Sheena Iyengar, 2010) Social psychologist rounds up research, including her own, into the human (and pre-human) decision-making process. Although I would have preferred more treatment of the key experiments themselves and less of the cultural references and general discussion meant to make them accessible, they nonetheless offer considerable fodder for extrapolation for any designer or theorist of games.—RDL


Holidays in Heck (Nonfiction, P.J. O’Rourke, 2011) Inviting unflattering comparison to his 1989 gonzo tour de force Holidays in Hell, this essay collection puts former war correspondent O’Rourke on the “civilian travels with mostly family” circuit, with dampening effects on his humor. O’Rourke can’t summon the Menckenesque vitriol for mere liberals that he once did for Communists, although the gentler half of his humor (fondness for regular people) comes through still. The best of the pieces concerns a horseback trip through Kyrgyzstan, but like that trip it’s a long ride to the top. –KH

Jason Bourne (Film, US, Paul Greengrass, 2016) Whistleblowing effort by past ally Nikki Parsons (Julia Stiles) draws Bourne (Matt Damon) out of hiding and into the crosshairs of an ambitious new CIA pursuer (Alicia Vikander.) A spirit of pro forma cooperation with studio entreaties prevails over this unnecessary sequel. Enlivened by Tommy Lee Jones’ gratifying decision not to phone in his boilerplate role as a ruthless CIA director.—RDL

The Prisoner Handbook (Nonfiction, Steven Paul Davies, 2002) In a better world, we would be drowning in memoirs and oral histories of the greatest show in television history, but in this one we get excerpts from a few interesting interviews embedded in a by-the-numbers recap of the series and its themes and rather too much information about its fan club. –KH

The Whip and the Body (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1963) The arrival of a disinherited, sadistic nobleman (Christopher Lee) at his gloomy ancestral manor leads to murder and a haunting. Banned or cut in most territories due to its overt S&M content, this never quite captures the eerie mood that characterizes either the director’s  top work, or the best entries in the 60s gothic horror cycle. Shot MOS and dubbed, with another actor voicing Lee’s performance.—RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Animals, Real and Imaginary”

  1. Benjamin Davis says:

    Of course it’s not THE Unknown Armies TV show; we already have The Lost Room.

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