Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Episode 205: The Complaining Hut

August 26th, 2016 | Robin

Get your dice and character sheets together and head on into the Gaming Hut as we field Patreon backer Gnoll Warford’s question about preparing as a first-time convention GM.

In How To Write Good, we slake patron Corey Pierno’s desire to know our writing and researching routines.

When Ken and/or Robin Talk To Someone Else, that someone else turns out to be Emily Care Boss, whose classic games of personal interaction have now been collected as the Romance Trilogy. Pre-order it now!

Then Ken’s Time Machine revs up to answer a question from Patreon backer Drew Clowery—can Ken use his time knowledge to finally reveal the identity of the Culper Ring’s Agent 355?

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card.    It’s hard to imagine that you listen to this show and have yet to check out The Dracula Dossier. But now that it has taken home Product of the Year and an oodle of other ENnie awards, perhaps you have remembered your blood thirst it. Time to drink deep of Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted. For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Sometimes Charles McGraw Week Just Happens

August 23rd, 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

Los Tallos Amargos (The Bitter Stems) (Film, Argentina, Fernando Ayala, 1956) Frustrated reporter with neurotic hero complex Gaspar (an excellent Carlos Cores) joins Hungarian immigrant Liudas (Vassili Lambrinos) in a correspondence-course swindle, becoming by turns suspicious, murderous, and desperate. Along with the Hitchcockian direction and superb cinematography, the jazz-inflected score by Astor Piazzolla drives the film into a Mannerist noir tour de force. –KH

Recommended

Charles McGraw Chews And Spits Out Media

Charles McGraw Chews And Spits Out Media

Armored Car Robbery (Film, US, Richard Fleischer, 1950) Reptilian mastermind Dave Purvis (William Talman) plans the titular heist to a ‘T’ but doesn’t factor in his weak-sauce accomplices or the relentless pursuit by LAPD Lt. Cordell (Charles McGraw at his most jut-jawed). This best-of-breed B crime film emphasizes the mechanisms of both law and crime, and revels in its superb Los Angeles location shots. –KH

Hollow Triumph (Film, US, Steve Sekely, 1948) Paul Henreid plays a criminal mastermind on the run who discovers his double, a psychiatrist with a scar on his cheek (also Henreid), in Los Angeles — and simultaneously discovers  Joan Bennett, the psychiatrist’s secretary. An archetypal example of psychological noir, and a standout Nietzschean turn from Henreid, who also produced and co-directed. –KH

The Narrow Margin (Film, US, Richard Fleischer, 1952) Tense LA cop (Charles McGraw) must guard a gangster’s wife (played by Marie Windsor) on the train from Chicago to LA so she can testify before a grand jury, but Syndicate thugs and possible love interest Jacqueline White ratchet up the difficulty. Fleischer shot with handheld cameras on moving train-car sets and no musical score; the result is a realistic grounding for the plot’s genre artifice, and real suspense on an RKO budget. –KH

Roadblock (Film, US, Harold Daniels, 1951) Hardboiled insurance investigator discovers his bent side when he falls for a lovely scam artist with a taste for mink. Low budget noir keeps its stripped-down sights on the moral cratering of its protagonist, curtly played by that most improbable of Hollywood leading men, gravel-voiced lug Charles McGraw.—RDL

Side Street (Film, US, Anthony Mann, 1950) Expectant father Joe Norson (Farley Granger) impulsively steals a $30,000 blackmail payoff, launching him into a dizzying chase through lower Manhattan. With a full cast of MGM stalwarts (including Charles McGraw as you guessed it a cop) and Mann at the helm, this noir policier always serves up more to watch than you can take in. Dioramic location shots (beginning with a bravura credits sequence shot from a blimp) and rich character action fill this poison-pen love letter to New York City. –KH

Good

Deep Valley (Film, US, Jean Negulesco, 1947) Young, sullen farm girl Ida Lupino falls in love with the escaped convict (Dane Clark) hiding out in her remote cabin. The melodrama shifts interestingly (though very slowly) from imprisoning Lupino in a dysfunctional family to imprisoning her in an increasingly happy one. Fans of Ida Lupino, high Romanticism, and cute dogs may consider this Recommended. –KH

Flesh and Fantasy (Film, US, Julien Duvivier, 1943) Triptych of short supernatural-inflected films on the themes of love and destiny: a homely girl wears a magical mask at Mardi Gras; Edward G. Robinson becomes obsessed with a palm-reader’s unsavory prediction; and aerialist Charles Boyer dreams of Barbara Stanwyck and death — and meets his dream girl before a big performance. All are beautifully and sometimes eerily shot, but a studio-added framing device (involving a bibulous Robert Benchley) and the high saccharine component of the first and third bits make the whole less than the sum of its parts. –KH

Satan Lives (Film, Canada, Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen, 2015) Interviews and archival footage trace the role of Satanism in the popular imagination from Anton LaVey to the Exorcist fad to 80s Satanic panic and beyond. Interviewees in this sober-minded cultural studies doc include Kenneth Anger, falsely imprisoned daycare managers Fran and Dan Keller, and LaVey’s daughter, now a convert to Buddhism.–RDL

Okay

Crimson Peak (Film, US, Guillermo del Toro, 2015) Mysterious baronet (Tom Hiddleston) coaxes anti-social aspiring writer (Mia Wasikowska) into married life at his decaying manor with his creepy sister (Jessica Chastain) as forbidding housemate. Compared to del Toro’s last couple of entries, this gothic ghost story has subtler structural problems, like its heroine’s fuzzy dramatic arc. Also, there’s a reason why the young woman’s arrival at the dread old house generally happens right away instead of at the start of act two.–RDL

Destiny (Film, US, Reginald Le Borg, 1944) Universal chopped the first segment out of Flesh and Fantasy (q.v.) and hamfistedly expanded it into this 65-minute film, in which wrongly accused ex-con Cliff Banks (Alan Curtis) narrates his life story to a succession of women. As in Goldilocks, the third girl,  blind dowser Jane Broderick (Gloria Jean) is just right. In Duvivier’s original story Banks kills Jane’s father; the “dream” sequence (directed by Duvivier) in which she arouses the elements to harry and destroy him is magnificent but badly out of place in this flat fixup. –KH

The Midnight After (Film, HK, Fruit Chan, 2014) Driver (Lam Suet) and passengers aboard a minibus go through a tunnel and come out the other side to find Hong Kong suddenly and utterly deserted. Metaphysical mystery with elements of the ghost and pandemic genres turns into a different headtrip movie about every fifteen minutes, with a couple of standout sequences but no concern for paying off what it sets up. With Simon Yam.–RDL

Riffraff (Film, US, Ted Tetzlaff, 1947) Boy I sure hope Pat O’Brien was drunk during this whole film, in which he plays a Panama fixer and P.I. hired to find a map to some oil wells. (An hour into the 80-minute running time, O’Brien announces “I’m going to start looking for that map!”) Anne Jeffreys is lovely and game as a gold-digging singer half O’Brien’s age, lending extra awkwardness to the shambolic story. Percy Kilbride’s dry comic turn as a cab driver and an over-the-top role for Walter Slezak as the heaviest of heavies (along with the occasional gorgeously shot sequence) do keep the viewer interested and even occasionally rooting for this most anti-GUMSHOE of noirs. –KH

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Episode 204: Gen Con 2016

August 19th, 2016 | Robin

Voices weary and graveled, but with spirits lifted by ENnies Gold and Silver, Ken and Robin return from Gen Con to regale you with this year’s round-up of the Best Four Days in Gaming. As is our annual wont we throw separate segments to the wind to encompass all the Gaming Hut goodness. Sub-headings include the Diana Jones Awards, industry scuttlebutt, meetings with listeners, the fate of the show and of course, food. All that and much much more.

Thanks to our beloved ENnies voters for allowing us a three-peat, hanging yet another Gold medal around this podcast’s grateful neck.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card.

It’s hard to imagine that you listen to this show and have yet to check out The Dracula Dossier. But now that it has taken home Product of the Year and an oodle of other ENnie awards, perhaps you have remembered your blood thirst it. Time to drink deep of Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, consisting of the Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted.

For those seeking yet more Ken content, 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.

Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.

  

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: DC TV > DC Movie

August 16th, 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.

Recommended

1493 (Nonfiction, Charles C. Mann, 2011) Sprawling survey, told with an eye with for telling anecdote, rounds up the ecological, economic, political and military blowback of contact between the Americas and the rest of the world, from the possible anthropogenic origin of the Little Ice Age to the rise of the slave trade. Necessarily less focused than the author’s previous 1491, about pre-Contact American cultures, this sweeping overview demonstrates that globalization, far from being a recent phenomenon, has been transforming the way people live for five centuries now.–RDL

The Lady in the Van (Film, UK, Nicholas Hytner, 2015) Writer Alan Bennett strikes up a reluctant relationship with a querulous homeless woman (Maggie Smith) who proceeds to park her van in his London driveway for the next 15 years. Acerbic drama of hesitation, emotional barriers and mortality also belongs on the very short list of films that accurately portray the writing life. I’m tempted to dock it a point for its awful score, a mush of fake drollery that invites the audience to condescend to its characters and situations.–RDL

Preacher Season 1 (Television, AMC, Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, 2016) Criminal (Dominic Cooper) goes straight to step into his father’s boots as a small town pastor in Texas, where he acquires a miraculous power and meets a friendly, dissolute vampire, Stetson-wearing angels, and a megalomaniacal meat magnate. Captures the weirdness of 90s Vertigo comics while softening their smart guy misanthropy by depicting even the minor and/or sinister characters with levels of sympathy. The ambitiously fragmented structure wouldn’t work without the anchoring work of a standout cast including Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun and Jackie Earle Haley.–RDL

Swiss Army Man (Film, US, Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, 2016) Desperate castaway (Paul Dano) finds hope of survival by befriending a talking but none-too-animate corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) whose bizarre super powers include propulsive flatulence. In asking the question “what would it look like if Michel Gondry remade Weekend at Bernie’s?” the writer-directors flirt with a couple of dismal outcomes but instead wind up in a place of surprising ambiguity.–RDL

Good

Looking For the General (Fiction, Warren Miller, 1964) Louder than Charles Portis and lesser than R.A. Lafferty, but with much of the spirit of both, Miller’s novel is a quest narrative driving through the eliptonic true believers of the pre-apocalyptic United States. A quintessential Seventies story somehow written before the Sixties got started, it’s weirdly both dated and timeless. Recommended by Howard Waldrop and by James Blaylock, and by me if your big problem with Kerouac was “too few references to John Worrell Keely.” –KH

Okay

Suicide Squad (Film, US, David Ayer, 2016) Simultaneously overstuffed and under-thought, this ground-out-by-committee effort still can’t erase John Ostrander’s brilliant original idea, and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller batters every scene she’s in into something nearly watchable. Decent character turns by most of the non-Will Smith cast and a strong first act make this flick ultimately more disappointing than awful, which is a step up for the cinematic DCU. –KH

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Episode 203: Pull the Damn Trigger You Coward!

August 12th, 2016 | Robin

In a special live from our hotel room episode, we inflate a portable Gaming Hut to field a question from Frent about catastrophe pile-ups in popular continuities.

The Tradecraft Hut looks at the implications of Russian intelligence’s hack of the Democratic National Committee emails. (See The Crusader, by Paul Kengor, pp. 317-320 for the full text of KGB head Viktor Chebrikov’s letter to Andropov about Ted Kennedy’s approaches to the Soviets about the 1984 election.)

Ken demanded it, so we did it—a Food Hut on that most exalted of fruits, the blueberry.

Thanks to Patreon backer Morgan Ellis, we have a Consulting Occultist topic Ken can field in his sleep and/or the day before a big show: ley lines.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card.    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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Truncated For Obvious Reasons Edition

August 9th, 2016 | Robin

The Pinnacle

GenCon (Convention, US, Peter Adkison et al, 2016) For the last 17 years, Adkison and his team have led the “best four days in gaming” to strength after strength. This year was no different, except in scale: bigger, better, and for us your hosts, ever busier. All the media we consumed this week came in the shape of fatigue-toxin hallucinations, reading each others’ autographs and text messages, and drunken games of “Can You Top This?” We hope you saw us (if you wanted to), and if you talked to us we were delighted to talk to you even if it seemed at the time as though we had been sloppily reanimated by an indifferent necromancer.–KH

GenCon (Convention, US, Peter Adkison et al, 2016) What Ken said. Now good grief where’s the coffee?—RDL


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.

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Episode 202: While We’re On the Surface of the Freezing Sun

August 5th, 2016 | Robin

Another all-Patreon backer request episode kicks off in the Gaming Hut as Tom Abella asks what Brexit will do to spycraft in our world and that of Night’s Black Agents.

In The Business of Gaming Wesley Marshal asks about the ethics of working on an IP you don’t care for.

Karl Schmidt wants the Consulting Occultist to spill the astrological and alchemical beans on Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire.

Then finally it’s time for another installment of Tell Me More, in which Ken and/or Robin expand their Ken and Robin Consume Media thoughts about Occupied, The Vampire Countess, and The Neon Demon.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card.    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. Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Stranger Pinnacles

August 2nd, 2016 | KenH

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

Stranger Things Season 1 (TV, Netflix, The Duffer Brothers, 2016) Boy’s disappearance sets his D&D pals, older brother, and a small town police chief on the separate paths into a mystery involving a sinister government lab, interdimensional monsters, and a psi-powered girl. With its brilliantly layered pacing, superlative kid acting and knowing mastery of early 80s stylistic gestures, this excursion into kid-friendly horror in many ways tops the King, Carpenter, and Spielberg material it pays homage to. And gosh it was right swell of Netflix to go to such expense to promote the imminent releases of Fear Itself and Bubblegumshoe.—RDL

Stranger Things Season 1 (TV, Netflix, The Duffer Brothers, 2016) If this perfectly paced homage to 1980s horror has any real flaw, it’s that the sheer brio of its references and pastiches can obscure its masterful, disciplined plotting and even step on its superb serial evocations of paranoia, dread, and the uncanny. The almost total lack of exposition, outside Stephen-King-esque flashbacks to emotionally resonant moments, is especially brave in a show that depends on audiences “getting it” to work. Special shout-out to the Kyle Dixon/Michael Stein score, which sneakily evokes Angelo Badalamenti almost as much as it overtly does John Carpenter. –KH

Recommended

I Am Providence (Fiction, Nick Mamatas, 2016) Annoying, marginal Lovecraftian who seems to live only for online disputation (remiiiiiind you of anyone?) has his face sliced off at a Providence Lovecraft convention. Narrated in parallel by the corpse and by his erstwhile con roommate Colleen Danzig, this perhaps over-elaborate exercise in piss-taking lives by Mamatas’ confident style and his subversion of the murder mystery format. It’s philosophically far less interesting than other Mamatas works (Sensation, Love is the Law), although that may be part of the joke on self-important HPL-philes. If you’re a sensitive Lovecraftian, the vitriol spat at Lovecraft and his modern acolytes will amuse you less than if you are a monster of arrogance such as myself or Nick. –KH

Train to Busan (Film, South Korea, Sang-Ho Yeon, 2016) Selfish fund manager reluctantly takes his young daughter on a birthday train trip to see her mother; as they leave the station, a nationwide fast-zombie epidemic erupts. With its tightly rendered throughline and brilliant obstacle construction, this would go in the Recommended slot even if it weren’t surprisingly moving for a zombie flick.–RDL

Good

The Goonies (Film, US, Richard Donner, 1985) Hollering pre-teens in Oregon hunt for pirate treasure while being pursued by also-hollering criminals. Even thirty years later, the “tween Howard Hawks” feel of the first two acts is kind of jaw-dropping, but the cave-and-ship scenes slide into a by-the-numbers Spielbergian amusement park ride. All the praise for Dave Grusin’s score is merited, not least because he knew enough to lift a proper 1948 adventure score by Max Steiner. (I was 20 when this cult movie came out, so I didn’t see it then, and if I’d seen it for the first time at 12 I would have loved it, so call it Recommended for kids.) –KH

Jason Bourne (Film, US, Paul Greengrass, 2016) New revelations about his past bring super-agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) back into conflict with the panoptic CIA in the persons of fresh-faced cyber division head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) and folksy Agency bad guy #4 (Tommy Lee Jones). While director Greengrass and star Damon continue their top-notch performances, the script needed to be either less facile or more creative, or ideally both. As it is, when it fractures the series’ crucial facade of realism, there’s nothing to rescue the story. The result is a weirdly stand-pattish ‘reset’ on the franchise that redefined the spy thriller for the new millennium. –KH

Star Trek Beyond (Film, US, Justin Lin, 2016) What are the odds that, in the middle of an unexplored nebula, a Captain Kirk (Christopher Pine) wrestling with daddy issues should encounter a combat-techie-ninja alien (Sofia Boutella) also wrestling with daddy issues? In 2263, one assumes they’re astronomical, but in 2016 they’re even money. (Zachary Quinto’s Spock, in a change-up from the original TV character, wrestles with alternate-older-self issues.) This tired script is, however, the best of the three Abrams-verse installments, and the cast and crew by now have the TOS rhythms down. Justin Lin’s experience at directing ensemble actioners is a real plus, too. –KH

Okay

The Five Man Army (Film, Italy/US, Don Taylor & Italo Zingarelli, 1968) In turn of the century Mexico, a mastermind (Peter Graves), a bank robber, a big bruiser, an explosives expert and a samurai team up to rob a government gold train. Less awesome than this sounds, due to spiritless direction—though the heist itself is so much better than the rest of the film I want to believe co-writer Dario Argento had an uncredited hand in the second unit direction. Feels like an Ennio Morricone-scored film adaptation of that time you tried to play Boot Hill but the player who always insists on playing the samurai still insisted on playing the samurai.—RDL

Pandora’s Legions (Fiction, Christopher Anvil, 2002 ed.) From 1956 to 1969 John W. Campbell published Anvil’s series of semi-humorous short stories and novellas about the Centrans, lion-like aliens who were dumbfounded by the smarter, more inventive, more persuasive humans they had just conquered. In 1972, Anvil expanded the first of those tales into a novel, Pandora’s Planet. Editor Eric Flint combined the whole cycle (with Anvil’s rewrites and input) into this episodic omnibus novel, which retains its charms but nevertheless remains a minor work of the didactic Silver Age of SF. –KH

Not Recommended

Batman: The Killing Joke (Film, US, Sam Liu, 2016) Animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s least good major work manages to make it even worse with a tacked-on Batgirl-gets-too-emotionally-involved first act. Bruce Timm’s 90s expressionism might not have worked for an adaptation of Brian Bolland’s line art, but the DC house animation style looks extra cheesy as it sedulously apes Bolland’s panels. Mark Hamill’s Joker, however, is as richly menacing as it’s ever been, so Moore’s clever dialogue sounds great even as it signifies nothing. –KH

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Episode 201: You Don’t Need to Drag Pokemon Into It

July 29th, 2016 | Robin

Pokemon fever is back and more feverish than ever. As Pokemon Go breaks loose of the Gaming Hut, forcing players onto the actual streets, is there anything we can riff about it that reality hasn’t already delivered?

Ken watched every Dracula flick he could get his hands on, and now the result of that effort, The Thrill of Dracula, awaits your reading pleasure. We open Ken’s coffin to chat about it in Among My Many Hats.

Our amygdalas alert us to danger whenever we see an upside down triangle. In Fun With Science, we go behind the science to make up explanations for this peculiar phenomenon.

Finally, Patreon backer Jacob Ansari wants to know why Ken’s Time Machine was employed to obscure Palermo’s mysterious Blue Room aka Wonderland Chamber.

Support the KARTAS Patreon!


Get trapped in Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” in Atlas Games’ addictive new card game Lost in R’lyeh. Take a selfie with your purchased copy of the game at your brick and mortar game retailer and send it to Atlas to claim your special Ken and Robin promo card.

 

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.

Attention, operatives of Delta Green, the ultra-covert agency charged with battling the contemporary forces of the Cthulhu Mythos! Now everything you need to know to play Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game, perhaps extending your valiantly short field life, can be found in the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook.   

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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Murder Ghost, Train Zombies, Captain Kirk

July 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

Kill, Baby, Kill! (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1966) Possibly Bava’s purest gothic presents the failure of male Enlightenment reason in the person of coroner Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) when confronted with the supernatural and eternal feminine: a sorceress (Fabienne Dali), a widowed crone of a baroness (Gianna Vivaldi), a beautiful orphan (Erika Blanc), and a murderous little girl ghost in white. Bava does things with the camera and the mise-en-scene that even he couldn’t repeat, creating a compelling dream of a ghost story with color, sound, shadow, and movement. –KH

Sicario (Film, US, Denis Villeneuve, 2015) FBI kidnap expert (Emily Blunt) joins an interagency drug trafficking task force, only to discover that she’s being used by the shadowy CIA operative (Josh Brolin) and asset (Benicio del Toro) running the show. Aided enormously by Roger Deakins’ eerily gorgeous cinematography, Villeneuve portrays the covert cartel drug war as an alien landscape.–RDL

Recommended

Deutschland 83 (TV, Germany, Sundance/RTL, Anna Winger, 2015) Eight episodes follow East German soldier Martin (Jonas Nay) as he is recruited in 1983 by East German intelligence, hastily trained in tradecraft, and inserted into a NATO base as aide-de-camp to West German General Edel (Ulrich Noethen). The series unfolds with period punctilio as the East becomes ever more convinced of an upcoming American nuclear first strike, and as Martin becomes ever more deeply enmeshed in Edel’s dysfunctional family life. Strong Cold War spy narrative carries and colors the soapy side notes, resulting in riveting, slippery drama. –KH

Diary of a Teenage Girl (Film, US, Marielle Heller, 2015) As part of her headlong leap into sexual experience, a 15 year old aspiring comix artist pursues an affair with her mother’s handsome but feckless boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard.) Brilliant performance by lead Bel Powley anchors this keenly honest indie drama, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s semi-autobiographical mixed media book. Refreshingly non-punitive for a film about challenging adolescent sexuality.–RDL

Train to Busan (Film, South Korea, Yeon Sang-Ho, 2016) Distant, self-involved dad Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) reluctantly accompanies his young daughter (Kim Su-an) on the titular train to his ex-wife’s house … on the day the zombie apocalypse breaks out in Korea. The zombies are fast (just a hint of camera stutter) and ferocious, their wave attacks putting the similar but too-bombastic zombie piles of World War Z to shame. Its post-Romero message of altruism (and its fully Romero message of class struggle) come on a little thick, but this is everything you want from a zombie movie and everything you want from a train movie. –KH

Star Trek Beyond (Film, US, Justin Lin, 2016) A routine rescue mission for the Enterprise turns into a confrontation with a vampiric villain fielding a fleet of hive ships. Though the space combat action could be clearer, overall this plays as a pretty solid meeting point between a TOS episode and a contemporary tentpole actioner.–RDL

Good

Von Ryan’s Express (Film, US, Mark Robson, 1965) New-fledged USAAC Colonel Ryan (Frank Sinatra) finds himself ranking officer in an Italian POW camp, at odds with British elite professional soldier Major Fincham (Trevor Howard). The film becomes something rather special when the men leave the camp for a German prisoner train headed for Austria, but the Jerry Goldsmith score tries too hard to echo Elmer Bernstein’s Great Escape and its prominence undermines the pacing. –KH

Not Recommended

Cold War II (Film, HK, Lok Man Leung & Kim-Ching Luk, 2016) Rock-ribbed police commissioner (Aaron Kwok) clashes with a wily legislator (Chow Yun-Fat) as criminals conspire to replace him with his disgraced predecessor (Tony Leung Kar Fai.) With its overdone scoring and a great cast forced into a portentous acting style, this is more interesting as a political document, indicating what you can and can’t say about government in Hong Kong, than as a movie.–RDL

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Cartoon Rocket
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Robin
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