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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Classic Scorsese and a Rita Hayworth Double Bill

May 26th, 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

Angels Over Broadway (Film, US, Ben Hecht w Lee Garmes, 1940) Dissipated playwright (Thomas Mitchell) cajoles a cynical tout (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and soft-hearted gold-digger (Rita Hayworth) into helping a desperate clerk (John Qualen) out-swindle a gambling racketeer. Hecht’s jaundiced view of humanity, earned as a journalist who interviewed the sorts of people who get covered in newspapers, does epic battle with his sentimentality in this fairy tale of New York.—RDL

Casino (Film, US, Martin Scorsese, 1995) Bookie Ace Rothstein (Robert de Niro) and Outfit thug Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) leave Chicago for Vegas to run the Tangiers casino and amok, respectively. Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book about Frank Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotro, Scorsese’s film relies (nearly overmuch) on continuous voice-over and on the ironic distance it provides. The latter is Ace’s ace in the hole until he falls for hustler Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone, in the film’s best performance). A sumptuous buffet of detail that ends up being both too much and not enough of a meal; well worth watching, though, despite the indigestion. –KH

Dillinger (Film, US, John Milius, 1973) Larger-than-life bank robber John Dillinger (Warren Oates) eludes G-Man Melvin Purvis (Ben Johnson) until their fateful meeting in Chicago. Milius’ first feature prints the legend with a vengeance, and with astonishing gunfight scenes on an AIP budget. Oates has seldom been better or more antiheroic; Michelle Phillips, Cloris Leachman, and Harry Dean Stanton are just the above-the-fold talent on display. –KH

Witkin & Witkin (Film, Mexico, Trisha Ziff, 2017) Joel-Peter Witkin, a photographer famed for staged works of that explore the outer boundaries of shock and beauty, and his identical twin Jerome, a fine artist who uses stunning draftsmanship to depict emotional and political trauma, attempt to explain the cordial but firm distance they maintain from one another. Arts documentary uses stillness and an unwavering gaze to examine the depths of its subjects’ contrasting personalities and experience of family history.—RDL

Good

Cover Girl (Film, Charles Vidor, 1944) Discovered by a magazine publisher who loved and lost her grandmother, a nightclub dancer (Rita Hayworth) rises to Broadway fame, threatening her Brooklyn-based choreographer boyfriend (Gene Kelly.) Bubbly musical features suggestive costumes in service of wartime morale, Eve Arden snark, Kelly dancing a duet with his own self-doubt, and Hayworth’s incandescent vulnerability. Phil Silvers sings a topical ditty on rationing including the immortal couplet “Because of Axis trickery / my coffee now is chicory.”—RDL

The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution (Film, Canada, Maya Gallus 2018) Women running kitchens at levels of the restaurant industry ranging from triple-Michelin to gray market dinner party events share their experiences. The subjects of this food doc agree on the abusive culture of pro cooking and the lack of access to capital, but split on the virtues of the brigade system.—RDL

Magnet of Doom (Film, France, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1963) After washing out as a boxer, an ambitious young man (Jean-Paul Belmondo) takes a job as a dogsbody to a fugitive financier (Charles Vanel), headed for the US. Languid road movie awash with the French New Wave’s infatuation with, and reinvention of, American cool. Based on a Simenon novel.—RDL

Okay

Shadow on the Wall (Film, US, Pat Jackson, 1950) The repressed memories of a young child hold the key to the real killer of her stepmother, a crime that has sent her father (Zachary Scott) to death row. Nancy Davis shows up late in the proceedings to take over as protagonist in this mild noir, as the crusading psychologist seeking the Eureka solution of Hollywood Freudianism.—RDL

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