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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spies, Attorneys, and Eliptonic Audio

September 22nd, 2020 | Robin

Recommended

Ace Attorney (Film, Japan, Takashi Miike, 2012) Flustered defense lawyer (Hiroki Narimiya) unwimds a complex conspiracy when he takes on a murder charge against his usual prosecutorial nemesis (Hiroki Narimiya.) Miike uses manga, and in this case, video game adaptations, as a platform for formal play, with this as the wiggiest example in more ways than one.—RDL

Reilly: Ace of Spies (TV, UK, ITV, Chris Burt, 1983) Miniseries follows the romanticized career of con man and sometime British agent Sidney Reilly (Sam Neill) from Baku in 1901 to his execution in Moscow in 1925. Neill’s simultaneously suave and feral performance carries the show past the occasional talky bits, and strong villains like Basil Zaharoff (Leo McKern, superb as always) and Felix Dzerzhinsky (Tom Bell) make sure Reilly’s successes and failures feel earned. Shout-out to Elizabeth Waller’s costumes, and to future Bond helmer Martin Campbell cutting his spy teeth as co-director.–KH

Mr. & Mrs Adelman (Film, France, Nicolas Bedos, 2017) At his funeral reception, the wife (Doria Tillier) of a renowned writer (Nicolas Bedos) recounts their life together to a prospective biographer. Novelistic comedy drama ironically aces the difficult feat of multi-decade narrative with ironic divides in perspective.—RDL

Septimo (Film, Argentina, Patxi Amezcua, 2013) Big shot defense attorney (Ricardo Darin) resorts to desperate measures when his young kids disappear on their way down the staircase of their apartment building. Pressure cooker suspense thriller keeps its surprises admirably within the realm of plausible human behavior.—RDL

The Vast Of Night (Film, US, Andrew Patterson, 2019) In the late 50s in a sleepy New

Mexico town, a radio DJ and a switchboard operator encounter an eliptonic audio mystery. Rattletrap dialogue, low-contrast images and fluid, racing camera moves create evocative atmosphere in this SF thriller—even if it does include one layer of stylization too many.—RDL

Good

Streets of Fire (Film, US, Walter Hill, 1984) When motorcycle gangster Raven (Willem Dafoe) kidnaps rocker Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) from the stage in a nameless timeless city that looks a lot like Chicago, her soldier ex Tom Cody (Michael Paré) comes to the rescue. A lesson in just how far you can take a film without acting or a script, this unreally glorious “rock & roll fable” nearly sells you regardless. Ry Cooder’s score and Jim Steinman’s bookend songs, Hill and cinematographer Andrew Laszlo’s shots, and the combo of Studebakers, neon, the L, and Armani create a perfect (and surprisingly influential) cinematic neverland. –KH

Okay

The Forest of Love (Film, Japan, Sion Sono, 2019) Aspiring directors making a film based on a transparently awful but effective con man are sucked into his cult-like orbit of murder and degradation. Overlong journey into the ultra-extreme appears to be advancing a political metaphor but ultimately chucks that in favor of mystical ambiguity.—RDL

2 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spies, Attorneys, and Eliptonic Audio”

  1. Gene Ha says:

    I love everything about Streets of Fire so much, except that the most boring character is the hero. The actor is boring, his dialog is boring, he even has the only boring costume in the whole movie. The movie comes to a screeching halt whenever he’s on screen.

    They had effing WILLEM DAFOE and barely gave him any screen time.

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