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Ken and Robin Consume Media: A Mermaid, A Disfigured Anti-Hero, and Alien Brainwash

June 21st, 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.

This week Ken consumed Origins instead of media, and Robin spent the weekend attending the Canadian Writer’s Summit. Hence a slimmer than usual list of capsule reviews.

Recommended

Cooked (TV, US, Netflix, 2016) Ostentatiously beautiful HD photography brings a rich glow to this docuseries adaptation of Michael Pollan’s food book of the same name, with instalments themed around the four elements: fire (meat), water (pot cooking), air (bread) and earth (fermentation.) There must not be much to say about pot cooking, as episode two spends most of its time critiquing the processed food industry’s impact on health and society.—RDL

The Face Behind the Mask (Film, US, Robert Florey, 1941) Once hope-filled immigrant burned in a hotel fire (Peter Lorre) dons a mask to conceal his disfigured features and turns to masterminding armed robberies. Aside from Lorre’s wonderfully extravagant performance, the genre-blending combination of gothic horror themes in a hardboiled crime setting provides the chief point of interest.—RDL

Night Tide (Film, US, Curtis Harrington, 1961) Naive sailor (Dennis Hopper) falls for a sideshow mermaid with a dark secret. Lewtonesque weird tale makes atmospheric use of location shooting in and around the Santa Monica amusement pier. Put a copy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten next to the pickled hand on the retired sea captain’s curio shelf, toss in a reference to Dagon, and you’ve got yourself a Mythos movie.—RDL

Simon (Film, US, Marshall Brickman, 1980) Amoral scientific geniuses brainwash flailing psychology prof (Alan Arkin) into believing he’s an alien being. Droll satire skewers futurism and messianic arrogance. To update it to the present you’d only need slicker-looking tech and a scene where Austin Pendleton’s smug chief antagonist gives a TED talk. Solid cast of comic character actors includes Wallace Shawn, Max Wright, Fred Gwynne and Madeline Kahn.—RDL

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