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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ghosts, Tripods, and Captain America

May 10th, 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

High-Rise (Film, UK, Ben Wheatley, 2016) Reserved anatomy instructor (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a brutalist apartment tower run by its strangely intrusive architect (Jeremy Irons) just before its descent into orgiastic madness. Phantasmagorical adaptation of the classic JG Ballard novel conjures weird beauty from the ugliest elements of 70s design.—RDL (my favorite film from TIFF ‘15)

Recommended

Captain America: Civil War (Film, US, Anthony & Joe Russo, 2016) Now this is how you do a Superhero Facepunch Movie. The Russos once more shoot great thriller scenes that oh yeah have superhumans in them, and embed them in a movie that oh yeah has human characters in it. In short: Best Avengers film yet, and it’s not even close.. –KH

Childrens Hospital Season 6 (TV, Adult Swim, 2015) The oversexed and underbrained doctors of the titular medical establishment return to Brazil, which is totally where they are, for adventures in such genres as spy, heist, cop, and nostalgic Judaica. Only a show this meta-fictional could turn in another solid season of rapid-fire lunacy while availability issues keep most series regulars out of any given installment.—RDL

A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds  (Non-fiction, David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld (editors), 1993) Complete textual history (including a “lost chapter”), modest critical appraisal, extensive endnotes, and useful appendices by Wells and others provide not just a definitive text but a comprehensive perspective on H.G. Wells’ “scientific romance.” Essential reading for those interested in the novel, although the section on its later adaptations is unfortunately somewhat superficial. –KH

Daredevil Season 2 (TV, Netflix Original, 2016) A sudden expansion in mystical scope turns the storyline into nonsense, and Daredevil/Murdock (Charlie Cox) is weirdly passive throughout. Nevertheless, both Elektra (Élodie Yung) and the Punisher (Jon Bernthal) anchor their immediate episodes in comic-book awesome, and the fights just get better. —KH

The Ghost Stories of Ambrose Bierce (Fiction, Ambrose Bierce, 1890s) Bite-sized, anecdotal tales of ghosts and disappearances set in the US South and West. Over the course of the anthology you can see the roots of the weird tale, including such elements as ominous whippoorwills and non-Euclidean space, emerge from an earlier, newspaper-column style focusing more on irony than horror.—RDL

Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City (Non-fiction, Stephanie Kirkland, 2013) Chronicle of the grand travaux, the effort to transform Paris from a barely navigable medieval city to a jewel of the Industrial Revolution over the course of a generation in the middle of the 19th century, and the inflexible bureaucratic in-fighter who made it happen. Keeps the oversized personalities and autocratic politics percolating in what could easily have been a dry list of buildings and their various cornices.—RDL

Sleeping With Other People (Film, US, Leslye Headland, 2015) Attendees at a sex and love addiction meeting (Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis) reconnect for the first time since they lost their virginity to each other in college, vowing to keep it platonic. Witty dialogue, charming leads and realistic behavior make for a rom-com with smarts.—RDL

Wonders in the Sky (Non-fiction, Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck, 2010) Straightforward chronology of aerial anomalies from ca. 1460 BC to 1879 provides as many details as possible (including fairly detailed historiographies where known) and demolishes any credible notion that UFOs are a recent phenomenon. A 100-page appendix nobly if vainly attempts to sift religious visions, comets, hoaxes, etc. from the record. –KH

Good

House By the Cemetery (Film, Italy, Lucio Fulci, 1981) Researcher investigating a colleague’s past moves his wife and young son into the creepy house where the man’s life ended in murder-suicide. Typically of Fulci, pits the stylishly unsettling against the laughably maladroit. Paradoxically, both are needed: if entirely well-realized, this film would be unbearable. —RDL

2 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Ghosts, Tripods, and Captain America”

  1. Cambias says:

    I will say that whoever at Indiana University Press came up with that cover design for War of the Worlds deserves to be chased by tripods. Gramophones? What?

    The section about the highly unauthorized American newspaper serializations (in which the story was relocated to whatever city the paper was published in, and everything but the destruction was eliminated) was very entertaining. It explains why HGW was so hard on Orson Welles’s radio play version.

  2. Michael S. Schiffer says:

    This looks like it might be an interesting subject for a K&R Consume Media, as and when it becomes available:

    Joe and Anthony Russo[…] are apparently in China right now discussing their upcoming Mandarin-only sci-fi action film. …

    Titled The Hero’s Awakening, the movie is being produced through the Russos’ Anthem production studio, which they founded earlier this year to focus on making films for China’s massive, highly lucrative movie market. The film is being directed by Chinese director Feng Mushui, and, according to Joe Russo—who was also in the country to promote Civil War’s premiere—will be “wholly Chinese.”

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