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Ken and Robin Consume Media: A Hermetic Neighborhood, A Social Realist Vampire, and Bird Crime

April 6th, 2021 | 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.

Recommended

Dancers in Mourning (Fiction, Margery Allingham, 1937) Called to investigate a poison-prank campaign against revue star Jimmy Sutane, Campion finds himself in love with Sutane’s wife and increasingly convinced of Sutane’s guilt in a string of murders. Only someone as gifted at characterization and observation as Allingham could make a top-shelf mystery work around a detective who refuses to detect. Campion’s agonies refract marvellously in the cracked mirror of stage society. –KH

The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird (Nonfiction,  Joshua Hammer, 2020) Eccentric thrill-seeker Jeffrey Lendrum engages in multiple thefts of endangered falcon eggs around the world, allegedly for a high-ranking clients in the Gulf states; wildlife officers including Andy McWilliam of the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit try to shut him down. Acutely chosen digressions augment a tale rife with details too unbelievable to be untrue.—RDL

Hands Over the City (Film, Italy, Francesco Rosi, 1963) Neapolitan city councilor/real estate developer (Rod Steiger) schemes to retain his power base after a fatal accident at one of his building sites. Political procedural shot and staged with documentary realism depicts the famous paralysis of Italian bureaucracy as an enabler of corruption.—RDL

More Work for the Undertaker (Fiction, Margery Allingham, 1948) Rather than ascend to the respectable governorship of an island colony, Campion allows himself to be drawn into investigating a poisoning in the weirdly hermetic neighborhood of Apron Street. It would not amaze me to learn that Christopher Fowler is a fan of this novel, given its heaps of urban strangeness and large cast of local oddballs. I hesitate to recommend it as a detective story, but as a weird near-Symbolist tour de force it has few equals in its time. –KH

Slings & Arrows Season 2 (Television, Canada, The Movie Network, Susan Coyne, Bob Martin & Mark McKinney, 2005) Geoffrey (Paul Gross) butts heads with a cocksure stage star (Geraint Wyn-Davies) who intends to play Macbeth as he has always played him; CFO Richard (Mark McKinney) falls into the clutches of a bizarro marketing agency. Strong sophomore season revolves around the boil and bubble of an all-too-classic directing roadblock.—RDL

The Transfiguration (Film, US, Michael O’Shea, 2016) Socially isolated high schooler (Eric Ruffin) who periodically leaves his Brooklyn housing project to commit vampire murders gets  close to the new girl (Chloe Levine) who moves in upstairs. Social realist vampire film focuses on moral horror over scares. If you’re wondering if the homage to Martin is intentional, the movie-obsessed protagonist cites it as his number one fave.—RDL

Good

News of the World (Film, US, Paul Greengrass, 2020) Traveling newspaper reciter (Tom Hanks) reluctantly agrees to take a young girl raised as a Kiowa to her German immigrant relatives. Greengrass adjusts his you-are-there immediacy to the classical form of the Hollywood western as Hanks likewise re-embraces the laconic simplicity of movie star acting.—RDL

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