Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Cambodian Rock, Turkish Hell, and Yukon Jack

March 29th, 2016 | 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.


All Things Must Pass (Film, US, Colin Hanks, 2015) Documentary traces the history of the Tower Records retail chain, from seat-of-the-pants counterculture origins to post-Napster demise. Loving look back at an unconventional private enterprise that forged its misfit employees into the drivers of a vital cultural institution.—RDL

Baskin (Film, Turkey, Can Evrenol, 2016)  Cops called for backup at an abandoned, Ottoman-era police station descend into Hell. Hypnagogic pageant of initiatory creepiness, conjured with micro-budget ingenuity Sam Raimi would be proud of. –RDL (seen at TIFF ‘15; now in limited US theatrical & VOD release)

Bogle Old Vine Red Zinfandel (Wine, California, ~3 yrs ago) This aggressively fruit-forward red zinfandel pairs amazingly well with lamb, duck, or anything else you might pair with a Côtes du Rhône, only at a third of the price. Use a half-cup (with water or beef stock) for the pan sauce, and finish the bottle at the feast. –KH

Brotherhood of Blades (Film, China, Yang Lu, 2014) Trio of assassins gets caught up in fatal intrigue between the young new Emperor and the eunuch clique that wielded power in the previous regime. Melodramatic hooks abound in this lush historical martial arts actioner. —RDL

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll (Soundtrack, Various Artists, 2014) Soundtrack to the John Pirozzi documentary attempting to recover the lost world of pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodian rock. It doesn’t uncover any diamonds (although “Old Pot Still Cooks Good Rice” by Ros Serey Sothea is pretty damn groovy) but its 19 tracks capture a sound that won’t quite die, and inspire hiraeth for a scene that sadly did. The included PDF liner-notes booklet, by the way, is superb. –KH

The Lobster (Film, Greece, Yorgos Lanthimos, 2016) Sad architect (Colin Farrell) hopes to maintain his humanity in an alternate reality dystopia where unmarrieds have 45 days to find new partners, or be transformed into animals. Alternatively funny and unsettling absurdist satire of the rules societies and individuals fight to impose on romantic love.–RDL (seen at TIFF ‘15; now in limited North American theatrical release)

Muscle Shoals (Film, US, Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier, 2013) Doc profiles record producer Rick Hall and the core set of backing musicians who transformed a small Alabama town into the site of many of the iconic recordings of the 60s and 70s. Another indispensable entry in the classic recording studio sub-genre of rock documentaries.—RDL

So Anyway… (Non-fiction, John Cleese, 2014) Chatty autobiography takes Cleese from childhood to the formation of Monty Python, with an addendum on the group’s recent stadium show reunion. Paints a portrait of himself as a doubt-ridden figure quite unlike the blustering martinets he so often plays, with frequent asides covering his interest in psychology and his almost mathematical approach to surreal comedy.—RDL

Yukon Jack (Spirit, Diageo Canada) Billed as the “Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors”, this 40-proof liqueur made from rye whisky and honey hits the tongue with a rush of sweetness and the tang of candied peel. Alas the label no longer contains a Robert Service quote. What our pal Simon Rogers might term a “pudding whisky”, were he plied with it. Try it with a dash of lime.–RDL


The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid (Fiction, J. Michael Orenduff, 2013) “Unlicensed archaeologist” Hubert Schuze accidentally finds a body buried in a cliff dwelling, and misadventures unspool in leisurely fashion. Sedulous homage to Lawrence Block’s “Burglar” novels colors between the lines with lots of New Mexico scenery and food oh and sort of a mystery I guess. –KH

We Install: And Other Stories (Fiction, Harry Turtledove, 2015) With the possible exception of “Down in the Bottomlands,” there’s nothing essential in this collection, sadly including Turtledove’s essay on alternate-history construction “Alternate History: The How-To of What Might Have Been.” His essay on his own debt to Tolkien, “The Ring and I” was my favorite thanks to an inspired speculation about the Fourth Age, but one swallow (nor one amiable story about witches summoning birds) doth not a summer make. –KH

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