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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Hoops Greatness and Noir Under Franco

May 19th, 2020 | 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.

The Pinnacle

The Last Dance (Television, ESPN, Jason Hehir, 2020) Michael Jordan leads the Chicago Bulls to a historic sixth championship in 1998. Does a documentary about Mozart have an unfair advantage over a documentary about Salieri? The story of the greatest player in basketball history can’t help but be an epic; like everyone else who succeeds with Michael Jordan, Hehir gets credit for showing up ready to play and coming through in the clutch. Joyously savage, pure, thrilling, with an overwhelming momentum — this series lives up to its subject. –KH

Recommended

Laggies (Film, US, Lynn Shelton, 2014) In her late 20s, unable to settle on a career and facing a semi-wanted marriage proposal, a rudderless woman (Keira Knightley) strikes up an unlikely friendship with a high school student (Chloe Grace Moretz), to the puzzled consternation of her irascible lawyer dad (Sam Rockwell.) Indie drama with comic undertones finds the honesty in a premise that in lesser hands would lurch for the twee or contrived. Shelton’s sudden death this weekend comes as a shocking blow to the indie film scene. This one, based on another writer’s script,  is uncharacteristic of her quasi-improvised style. If you don’t know her work I’d recommend starting with Sword of Trust or Your Sister’s Sister.—RDL

Peppermint Frappé (Film, Spain, Carlos Saura, 1967) Tightly-wound middle-aged doctor (José Luis López Vazquez), obsessively infatuation with his brother’s effervescent younger wife (Geraldine Chaplin) remains undimmed when he initiates an affair with his withdrawn secretary (also Chaplin), who coincidentally resembles her. Twisted domestic allegory, aptly dedicated to Luis Buñuel.—RDL

Good

23 Hours to Kill (Stand-up, Netflix, Jerry Seinfeld, 2020) “I feel like a blacksmith up here,” Seinfeld brays, and there’s something to that sense of outmoded-ness. Taped just before the pandemic, killer material about the irritations of “going out” plays extra-ironically. Seinfeld’s writing remains precise, but the delivery (and seemingly the commitment) don’t quite catch up. –KH

Honey Boy (Film, US, Alma Har’el, 2019) Stuck in court-ordered rehab, an angry young film actor (Lucas Hedges) looks back on his mistreatment by his tormented, addict dad (Shia LaBeouf.) Centered around a searing performance from screenwriter LaBeouf, playing his own abusive father, this glowingly photographed recovery drama quite explicitly frames itself as an act of therapy. And like therapy, it doesn’t offer much of a resolution.—RDL

My Late Wives (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1946) Serial wife-murderer Roger Bewlay vanished after his fourth outrage — but when actor Bruce Ransom receives a play revealing details of the murders, he resolves to impersonate Bewlay himself. The immensely contrived setup (and more than usually annoying Sir Henry Merrivale) undercuts scenes full of masterful tension and dread and winds up stepping on the reveal, normally Carr’s bulletproof stronghold. –KH

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (Film, US, Rob Garver, 2018) Arts profile documentary reviews the work and life of Pauline Kael, the sometimes rhapsodic, often brutal New Yorker writer who attacked auteurism in theory and upheld it in her reviews. Covers in solid detail the paradoxes that made her pieces both thrilling and exasperating.—RDL

Ugly Delicious Season 2 (Television, US, Netflix, 2020, Ben Cotner & Adam Del Deo) Restaurateur David Chang returns to celebrate unpretentious, culturally-connecting eating, this time covering parenthood, curry, steak, and the doner diaspora. An unfocused and truncated season that nonetheless allows one to vicariously hang out with the charming host and his celeb/foodie pals.—RDL

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