Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Battle of the Expository Rants

August 6th, 2019 | 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.


Gunman’s Walk (Film, US, Phil Karlson, 1958) Prideful cattle baron (Van Heflin) protects his impulsive, narcissistic son (Tab Hunter) from a murder charge, further stoking his obsessive resentment. Western family drama of what the young’uns call toxic masculinity with a strong performance from Hunter in an uncharacteristic heel role.—RDL

The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (Fiction, Fredric Brown, 1953) Grounded by a rocket accident, obsessed and aging “starduster” Max Andrews throws himself into Senate candidate Ellen Gallagher’s plan to launch a mission to Jupiter. Set in a by-now-alternate future (1997-2001), this novel asks and answers the question: what does a Heinlein protagonist look like in a Fredric Brown world? The substratum of Brownian bleakness provides a surprising dimension to what is, on the surface, a melodrama between expository rants.—KH

The Plague Court Murders (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1934) A locked room and a sea of footprint-free mud surround the stab-ridden corpse of a phony medium. Henry Merrivale debuts in this early ultra-Carr-ish triumph, combining an impossible crime, gothic haunted-hothouse atmosphere, voices from the past, and family drama in a classic of Golden Age mystery. –KH

RBG (Film, Betsy West & Julie Cohen, 2018) Admiring documentary portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg intersperses scenes from her daily life with recaps of her early career as a litigator of sex discrimination cases. Finds the person behind a reserved demeanor and her recent quasi-ironic icon status.—RDL

Vacationland (Nonfiction, John Hodgman, 2017) Comic memoir explores the grown-up vicissitudes of life in rural Massachusetts and Maine, as contrasted to life in Brooklyn’s hipsterized Park Slope neighborhood. It helps to keep Hodgman’s voice in your head as he regales you with anecdotes of garbage dump rule anxiety, accidental boat ownership and stoned cairn construction with Jonathan Coulton.—RDL

Veep Season 7 (Television, HBO, David Mandel, 2019) Taking on and shedding the various invective-spewing operators in her orbit, Selina Meyer makes another no-holds-barred bid for the presidency. With real politics increasingly impervious to satire, this avoids the dreaded softening of final seasons to double down on comic brutality.—RDL

Not Recommended

Rider on the Rain (Film, France, Rene Clement, 1970) Pilot’s gamin-ish wife (Marlene Jobert) kills her rapist, covers it up, and is then hounded by a mysterious American (Charles Bronson.) After an intriguing giallo-influenced first act, turns into implausible characters at an interminable impasse over a convoluted situation.—RDL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
Flying Clock
Film Cannister