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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Candyman, Annette, Climate of the Hunter

August 31st, 2021 | 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

The Bolter (Nonfiction, Frances Osborne, 2008) Biography of the Edwardian social rebel Lady Indina Sackville, whose hunger for love and sex drove her to five marriages and a life of scandal in England and colonial Kenya. Cameo appearances from bold-faced names abound in this piquant account of the swirling relationships of a shattered generation, written by the subject’s great grand-daughter.—RDL

Candyman (Film, US, Nia DaCosta, 2021) Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist living in the gentrified Cabrini-Green neighborhood of Chicago, becomes inspired by the local urban legend: Candyman. While just a little too didactic and self-congratulatory to be the equal of the 1992 near-Pinnacle, this sequel does a remarkable (and remarkably self-aware — other characters repeatedly ding McCoy’s art for its didacticism) job of renewing the legend for a new audience without copping out on the deep racial text at its core. DaCosta shoots Marina City like a beehive and Candyman like a peripheral-vision specter, and that’s just the highlights of her many-layered artwork. –KH

The Hot Rock (Film, US, Peter Yates, 1972) A museum heist to grab a diamond claimed by multiple African nations requires master planner John Dortmunder (Robert Redford) to stage a series of follow-up crimes. Lighthearted caper flick, based on a Donald E. Westlake novel, anchored by an undercoat of 70s grit.—RDL

Val (Film, US, Ting Poo & Leo Scott, 2021) Aided by home footage he’s been taking since childhood, Val Kilmer, his voice and health badly damaged by a bout with cancer, looks back on his successes and regrets. An unrevealing person cautiously reveals himself in this autobiographical documentary, with voice-alike narration from Kilmer’s son Jack.—RDL

Good

Annette (Film, France/Belgium/Germany, Leos Carax, 2021) The marriage of comedian Henry (Adam Driver) to soprano Ann (Marion Cotillard) buckles under the strain of his self-loathing in this musical written by art-pop duo Sparks. Much as it pains me to admit it, the weak link in this film is not the grandiloquence and artificiality of Carax (which repeatedly hits), but the script (and even the music) by Sparks. The music is great, but deliberately underpowered — the whole movie likewise deliberately undercuts itself, as a reach for a kind of pop-Wagnerian irony. Driver does almost too good a job integrating his character, adding another skew element to a movie not at all bereft of them. –KH

Okay

Climate of the Hunter (Film, US, Mickey Reese, 2019) Resentment between middle-aged sisters escalates when one suspects that the aging swain who has re-entered their lives is a vampire. Layers of stylistic affectation take precedence over narrative development in this talky supernatural drama.—RDL

Deadly Sweet (Film, Italy, Tinto Brass, 1967) A brooding protagonist who acts like a detective but is never explicitly identified as one (Jean-Louis Trintignant) investigates the murder of a club owner, falling for a witness (Ewa Aulin) he finds standing over the corpse. Pop art deconstructed detective flick apparently designed to turn Blow-Up into a genre, just as the Italian film industry did by obsessively imitating A Fistful of Dollars and Blood and Black Lace. Except this time it didn’t happen. Also known as I Am What I Am.—RDL

The Yellow Wallpaper (Film, US, Kevin Pontuti, 2021) Suffering from postpartum depression, a woman (Alexandra Loreth) goes mad thanks to really unpleasant wallpaper (and also patriarchal wilful blindness). Charlotte Perkins’ Gilman’s classic short horror story works not least because it compresses months of oppression into brutal momentum; although many aspects of Pontuti and Loreth’s film capture the story’s mood and themes it desperately needed 20 minutes vigorously trimmed rather than the lengthy rest cure it gets. –KH

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