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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Beatles Revisionism, Art House Voodoo, and the Afterlife of a Toronto Landmark

June 9th, 2020 | 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.

Recommended

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 (Television, US, CW, Phil Klemmer & Keto Shimizu, 2020) Historical villains released from Hell plague the team as they try to reassemble the Loom of Fate before Charlie’s sisters Atropos and Lachesis use it to rob humanity of free will. Having fully locked in its tone this year, the series gets on with the business of light-hearted supers action and romance, making a virtue of its revolving-door ensemble.—RDL

The Franchise Affair (Fiction, Josephine Tey, 1948) Solicitor Robert Blair attempts to prove the innocence of his clients, accused of kidnapping a teenage girl and holding her at their remote house, The Franchise. Not so much the mystery but the social story drives the action; scenes of reinforcing media and mob panics build tension in an eerily precognitive fashion. –KH

How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll (Nonfiction, Elijah Wald, 2009) With a provocative hook of a title, Wald sets out to play the flip side of standard (white, intellectualized, male) rock-critic historiography with his subtitle “An Alternative History of American Popular Music” carrying his theme. His goal is to describe what Americans actually danced to and listened to from the beginning of the ragtime era to Sgt. Pepper, when the Beatles broke the link between those activities and yes, destroyed rock ‘n’ roll just as surely as Paul Whiteman destroyed jazz with Rhapsody in Blue. –KH

There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace (Film, Canada, Lulu Wei, 2020) When real estate developers purchase an iconic Toronto discount retail store, a displaced documentarian follows community efforts to secure an improved suite of public amenities, most notably a bigger chunk of rental units priced as affordable housing. Honest Ed’s was an anchor of the neighborhood I’ve now lived in for most of my life, and is now a construction site two blocks from my apartment, and my alderman is a key character in the film, so you could say that this is relevant to my interests. If urbanism matters to you it might be to yours as well.—RDL

Zombi Child (Film, France, Bertrand Bonello, 2020) After drawing a new Haitian-French classmate (Wislanda Louimat) into her literary sorority at an elite girl’s school, a teen (Louise Labeque) latches onto her aunt’s occupation as a voodoo practitioner as the solution to her romantic suffering. Partially inspired by the Clairvius Narcisse case, this quiet, imagistic drama resituates the zombie motif from the horror genre to its place in a contemporary religious practice.—RDL

Good

Mr. Arkadin (Fiction, Maurice Bessy [as Orson Welles], 1955) Petty crook and gigolo Guy Van Stratten attempts to blackmail arms dealer Gregory Arkadin, only to have the tables turned on him repeatedly. Novelization by Welles’ secretary of his screenplay for his famously half-finished thriller is no substitute for the movie, but it makes a fine (if bleak) investigative scenario. –KH

Okay

Antrum: the Deadliest Film Ever Made (Film, US, David Amito and Michael Laicini, 2018) Within the pseudodocumentary frame of a cursed film that kills all who watch it, a teen girl takes her younger brother to a forest to perform a ritual that inadvertently opens a gate to hell. Genuinely creepy moments mark the directing team as talents to look out for, though without an accurate pastiche of documentary style the framing device works more as padding than a source of additional scares .—RDL

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