Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Aftersun, Crimes of the Future, and The Quiet Girl

February 28th, 2023 | 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.


Aftersun (Film, UK, Charlotte Wells, 2022) On a seemingly blissful vacation in Turkey with her doting 30-year-old dad Calum (Paul Mescal), 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) subconsciously feels darker currents at work that her adult self now recalls. Two wonderfully natural performances synchronize to build a film all about layered emotional truths and the impossibility of memory. A magical experience that deliberately avoids the traps of plot and omniscience. –KH

The Contractor (Film, US, Tarik Saleh, 2022) Abruptly cashiered for using performance enhancing drugs to stay in his Green Beret unit, a financially strapped vet (Chris Pine) joins his fellow family man army buddy (Ben Foster) in a mission run by a gruffly avuncular merc company proprietor (Kiefer Sutherland.) Gritty action spy thriller with touches of the Western takes pains to establish the reality of its protagonist and his world.—RDL

Crimes of the Future (Film, Canada/Greece, David Cronenberg, 2022) In a future world mostly without pain, tortured performance artist Tester (Viggo Mortensen) tests the line of new vice when he’s drawn into a police investigation of radical evolutionists. Cronenberg presents a basic procedural narrative in a wildly discordant fashion, down to huge variations in line readings: the result is literally bloody pulp and bloody good fun. –KH

Henri Dauman: Looking Up (Film, US, Peter Kenneth Jones, 2018) Profile of Henri Dauman, who in his 60s heyday shooting for Life brought a glamorous, cinematic eye to photojournalism. Shot with affection for the subject’s puckish perfectionism and empathy for the travails of a life informed by his boyhood escape from deportation to Auschwitz in wartime France.—RDL

The Quiet Girl (Film, Ireland, Colm Bairéad, 2022) In 1981, superfluous nine-year-old daughter Cáit (Catherine Clich) goes to live with her mother’s cousins in a rural idyll. A sad, beautifully shot movie about girlhood and (at a remove) motherhood, made extra gorgeous for Anglophones by having almost all the dialogue in Irish. Clinch’s excellent performance wisely stays very interiorized, as the title indicates. –KH

Wild Girl (Film, US, Raoul Walsh, 1932) A vivacious young woman (Joan Bennett) raised among California’s redwoods resists the attentions of men from the nearby town, until a handsome stranger (Charles Farrell) shows up to settle a score with the worst of them. Walsh’s roughneck sympathies energize a Western fable of good-hearted outsiders up against merciless, hypocritical authorities. —RDL


Django & Django (Film, Italy, Luca Rea, 2021) Documentary survey of the nihilistic spaghetti westerns of Sergio Corbucci could do with an extra talking head or two to balance the on-set anecdotes from Franco Nero and Ruggero Deodato and the enthusiastic flapdoodle of Quentin Tarantino.—RDL

Massacre at Grand Canyon (Film, Italy, Sergio Corbucci, 1964) Returning home after avenging his father’s death, an ex-sheriff (Jim Mitchum) tries to prevent a range war. Made just before Corbucci saw his friend Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and adopted a version of its hyper-accentuated spaghetti western style, this more traditional cowboy actioner contains flashes of the darkness that takes center frame in his subsequent films.—RDL

Triangle of Sadness (Film, Sweden, Ruben Östlund, 2022) Feckless models (Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean) in a romantic and/or business relationship take a free trip on a luxury cruise bound for disaster. Scores when directing its gleeful satirical cruelties at easy targets, but loses energy in its final act and cops out when it realizes where a true resolution of its tensions would take it.—RDL

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