Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Burt Lancaster on the Lam, A Vampire Invite, and Ma Dong-Seok Slapping Down Punks

August 15th, 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.


Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (Film, US, Norman Foster, 1948) Merchant marine deserter on the lam for a bar fight killing (Burt Lancaster) strikes up an unlikely connection with straight-laced nursing assistant (Joan Fontaine.) Lean film noir of rage and its price evokes its London setting with elaborate, expressionistic sets built on a Hollywood backlot.—RDL

The Outlaws (Film, South Korea, Yunsung Kang, 2017) Rule-smudging but dedicated big bruiser cop (Ma Dong Seok aka Don Lee) marshals his bulk and brains to take down a destabilizing gang of ax-happy Chinese Korean gangsters intent on muscling out established rivals. The ideal Ma Dong Seok vehicle builds the audience toward a situation where they can revel in seeing him thoroughly demolish a smaller but oh so deserving opponent, and this, the beginning of a series, does that and wraps it in a gripping police pursuit thriller.—RDL


The Invitation (Film, US, Jessica M. Thompson, 2022) Revealed by a chance DNA test to be the scion of the wealthy Alexander family, Evie Jackson (Nathalie Emmanuel) accepts an invitation to a wedding at the mansion of the Alexanders’ patron, Walter DeVille (Thomas Doherty). Pleasant key change from fairy tale to gothic horror never terrifies, but Emmanuel remains engaging throughout. –KH

Mad Fate (Film, HK, Soi Cheang, 2023) After a brush with a serial killer brings them together, an unstable fortune teller (Ka-Tung Lam) attempts to divert a young man with homicidal ideation (Lok Man Yeung) from his destiny as a murderer. Unsettling juxtaposition of giallo-tinged psychological horror and underdog buddy drama establishes an eccentric orbit around its philosophical ideas.—RDL


Third Finger, Left Hand (Film, US, Robert Z. Leonard, 1940) Smalltown painter (Melvyn Douglas) struck by vexing love for a self-sufficient magazine editor (Myrna Loy) gets back at her by introducing himself to her family as the husband she invented to protect her career. Light on actual jokes, this screwball comedy coasts on the charm of its stars.—RDL

Viking Wolf (Film, Norway, Stig Svendsen, 2022) Transplanted cop Liv (Liv Mjönes) and her sullen teen daughter Thale (Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne) get tangled in a werewolf murder case. Nothing in this draggy, slack film brings anything much to the werewolf film mythos or canon despite a vague nod to the devil and also DNA or something. Norway is pretty, though. –KH

Not Recommended

Heart of Stone (Film, US, Tom Harper, 2023) Embedded within MI6 as a mild-mannered hacker, superspy Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) finds black hat hacker Keya (Alia Bhatt) plotting to bring down Stone’s true patrons, the goo-goo multinational Charter. When I cannot in good conscience recommend a Greg Rucka-written spy flick pitting Gal Gadot against Alia Bhatt, you know it must be derivative, talky, over-CGI’d mush indeed. It even squanders a dirigible! –KH

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