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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Batman and Bohemians

February 21st, 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.

Recommended

Beware the Slenderman (Film, US, Irene Taylor Brodsky, 2016) Eerie calm pervades this documentary exploration of the 2014 incident in which two 12-year-old girls tried to murder a classmate in the belief that this would protect them from the Internet horror character Slender Man. This story becomes a little more explicable but all the more unsettling as Brodsky fills in the complicated human stories behind the initial news accounts.—RDL

Bohemian Paris of Today (Nonfiction, William Chambers Morrow, 1899) Daily life in Belle Epoque Paris as experienced by American art students, from hazing rituals at the École des Beaux Arts to a pub crawl through such classic Montmartre haunts as the Moulin Rouge, Mirliton, Hell, and Tavern of the Dead. Penned with a raconteur’s aplomb, this is a sourcebook for players of my forthcoming Yellow King RPG, from the point of view of the characters. Don’t you think beating your deadline by 118 years is just a tad show-offy, William Chambers Morrow?—RDL

Hell or High Water (Film, US, David Mackenzie) West Texas brothers (Chris Pine, Ben Foster) go on a bank robbing spree to prevent foreclosure on their late mother’s underwater mortgage, pursued by a pain-in-the-ass Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) and his long-suffering partner (Gil Birmingham.) Elegiac contemporary oater pushes the Death of the West all the way to up the Great Recession.—RDL

The Lego Batman Movie (Film, US, Chris McKay, 2017) Riotous mayhem in the Lego movie tradition suffuses every frame (pixel? stud?) and lets the kid-friendly message (“Even Batman needs friends and family!”) go down easy. You’ll probably wind up buying the Blu-Ray and freeze-framing every 20 seconds to get all the visual jokes; not all the verbal jokes work but their sheer number, speed, and scope ensure plenty of hits anyway. Will Arnett’s childlike badass continues to climb the all-time Batman rankings, and wonder of wonders Michael Cera keeps up as Robin. –KH

The OA (Television, US, Netflix, Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij, 2016) Returning to her suburban home seven years after her disappearance, no longer blind, an enigmatic young woman (Marling) gathers a group of high school misfits to hear her story of strange captivity. Contemporary mad science fantasy shows formal audacity in both its rigorous fidelity to a searching, straight-faced emotional tone and in its readiness to explode viewer expectations.—RDL

Good

The Arrows of Hercules (Fiction, L. Sprague de Camp, 1965) De Camp’s breezy historical novel stars Zopyros of Tarentum, who may or may not have invented the catapult for Dionysios I of Syracuse around 397 BC. Flat prose and thin characters notwithstanding, first-rate research and cribs from Greek poetry ballast the book. One wishes de Camp had expanded on the bureaucratic plots possible in the world’s first weapons research laboratory. –KH

Slow Horses (Fiction, Mick Herron, 2010) MI5 screwups banished to busywork at “Slough House” get sucked (and suckered) into an ongoing operation and of course discover their inner strengths, humiliate their snooty rivals, and save the day (sort of) through teamwork. Engaging if paper-thin read, with a fun habit of constantly seeding misdirection throughout the narrative to keep the reader on their toes. –KH

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