Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: An Estonian Werewolf and Guillermo del Toronto

October 24th, 2017 | 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 Experimental City (Film, US, Chad Friedrichs, 2017) Zippily edited and filmed in a period-TV filter and palette, this documentary tells the story of a progressive technocratic dream of a domed city in Minnesota, and the local protests that stopped it in 1973. Makes excellent and ample use of archival recordings and footage of other Modernist urban mirages to illuminate and even celebrate its quixotic subject. –KH

Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters (Exhibit, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, 2017) No one who listens to KARTAS and is close enough to get to this show, featuring highlights from the director’s prodigious collection of geekanalia, needs me to sell them on it. So instead I’ll mention that this iteration of the show features items from the AGO’s collection selected by del Toro to complement his stuff, including memento mori netsuke, Victorian hidden mothers photos, along with works by Piranesi, John Scott, and Victoria Mamnguqsualuk.—RDL

How to Steal a Dog (Film, South Korea, Sung-ho Kim, 2015) Thinking it will let her buy a house, a primary school kid who secretly lives in a pizza van with her mom and younger brother enlists a schoolmate in a dognapping scheme. Tone-perfect mix of comedy, caper and melodrama features a level of craftsmanship not normally associated with movies for kids—and of course, an incredibly adorable, stunningly lit pooch. A great choice for a kid old enough to follow subtitles.—RDL

Mindhunter Season 1 (Television, US, Netflix, Joe Penhall, 2017) Lightly fictionalized docudrama traces the origins of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences unit, as an arrogant young straight-arrow and his older, skeptical partner embark on a hush-hush program of interviewing the murderers they’ll eventually label as serial killers. Keynote director David Fincher’s flair for investing seemingly quotidian moments with import and mystery anchor a narrative more intrigued by bureaucratic struggles than the case-breaking of traditional cop procedurals.—RDL

November (Film, Estonia/Netherlands/Poland, Rainer Sarnet, 2017) Teen peasant girl (and werewolf) Liina loves teen peasant boy Hans who loves the newly arrived German baroness. Set in a world infused with Estonian folk belief, from the Devil and the personified plague on down to love potions, and lensed in amazing black and white by Mart Taniel, this film evokes actual fairy tales better than almost anything I’ve ever seen. –KH

Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (Stand-up, Netflix, 2017) Oswalt mounts a very dark, very personal performance centering on the sudden death of his wife and to a lesser extent his despair following the 2016 election. A weirdly vulnerable, compellingly watchable gallows humor replaces the gasping-for-breath laugh riot of his previous specials. –KH

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Film, US, Peter Bogdanovich, 2007) You wouldn’t think you could fill four hours of documentary with nothing but the musical development of Tom Petty, with very occasional side ventures into his battles with his record labels and the 1987 arson of his home. But Bogdanovich does, at the steady upbeat lope of mid-period, Jeff Lynne-produced Petty, peppering the film with amiable reminiscences by various Heartbreakers and other collaborators, and anchoring it with Petty’s own wry commentary and ample concert footage. –KH


Lights Out (Film, US, David Sandberg, 2016) Young woman protects her brother from an clawed, murderous entity that has anchored itself to their mentally ill mom (Maria Bello) and can only exist in complete or partial darkness. Features a suitably creepy, if exposition-heavy, monster, while finding lots of business to execute around the need to find light sources. The ending commits a big storytelling no-no, though.—RDL

The Line (Film, Slovakia/Ukraine/Czech Rep, Peter Bebjak, 2017) Slovakian cigarette smuggler Adam faces family pressures from mom, wife, and daughter, and professional pressures from his Ukrainian mafiya supplier to run drugs. A fine crime story, especially for Dracula Dossier GMs looking for more on the Count’s Slovakian smuggler minions, but nothing except the setting particularly stands out. –KH


Budapest Noir (Film, Hungary, Éva Gárdos, 2017) High gloss and low budget can work but don’t here: the overlighting minimizes menace and the empty streets remove realism from this toothless tale of a reporter in 1936 Budapest investigating a murdered prostitute. (Glimpses of Budapest’s hidden self are sparse but welcome.) But our protagonist has no skin in the game, no wounded nature, and no iconic code: being a jerk is not actually a tragic flaw. –KH

Control (Film, Belgium, Jan Verheyen, 2017) Belgian police detectives Vincke and Verstuyft (reason and emotion, respectively) hunt a serial killer in Antwerp but their partnership founders when Verstuyft sleeps with a near-victim and possible material witness. Plays like a two-hour television episode from a well-shot procedural TV show; since it’s the third in a series of films, it essentially is. –KH

Gemini (Film, US, Aaron Katz, 2017) Personal assistant (Lola Kirke) to a movie star (Zoë Kravitz) becomes a suspect in her murder. I was all set to love this stylized, prefab tour through the “Hollywood crime story” trope box until it just ran out of road with a terminal anticlimax. Kirke is super, though, so keep her on your radar for when she hopefully gets a script with a fourth act. –KH

Not Recommended

The Reptile (Film, UK, John Gilling, 1966) After inheriting a cottage from his dead brother, a retired military man and his wife discover that his demise might have caused by lamia activity. Given the poky storytelling and unmagnetic performances, it turns out that the best way to experience this is to see a photo of the creature make-up in Famous Monsters of Filmland when you’re eleven, and then imagine the rest.—RDL

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