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Ken and Robin Consume Media: CODA, Red Rocket, and the Superhuman Strength of W. C. Fields

March 15th, 2022 | 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

CODA (Film, US, Sian Heder, 2021) The sole hearing member of a rough-hewn fishing family, a socially excluded high school student (Emilia Jones) is torn between loyalty to them and her dreams of a singing career. Sweet-natured, embracing indie drama with a strong supporting ensemble and a star-making role for Jones.—RDL

The Color of Lies (Film, France, Claude Chabrol, 1999) With his small Breton town already viewing him as the likely suspect in a child murder, a once-celebrated artist (Jacques Gamblin) finds himself under further pressure when a fatuous novelist (Antoine de Caunes) puts the moves on his wife (Sandrine Bonnaire.) Quietly incisive character observation hung on the framework of a murder story—which is admittedly a slightly longer way of saying “Chabrol film.”—RDL

Million Dollar Legs (Film, US, Edward F. Cline, 1932) To win the hand of his beloved (Susan Fleming), daughter of a Balkan nation’s preternaturally strong president (W. C. Fields), a cheery brush salesman (Jack Oakie) assembles a team of its superhuman citizens to enter the Los Angeles Olympics. Fast-paced comedy packed with surreal gags.—RDL

Palm Springs (Film, US, Max Barbakow, 2020) Super-chill wedding guest Nyles (Andy Samberg) has his infinity interrupted when sister of the bride Sarah (Cristin Milioti) joins him in his time-loop trap. Amiable comedy rings just enough changes on the time-loop setup, asks a couple of questions, and peaces out: what more could you want? J.K. Simmons? Okay, he’s in it, too. –KH

Red Rocket (Film, US, Sean Baker, 2021) Washed-up porn star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) washes up in his hometown of Texas City in summer 2016. Drew Daniels’ sunny 70s 16mm cinematography and Baker’s non-exoticized Texas Citizens (including several non-actors) mash up Spielberg and Linklater for an entirely original, entirely classic look. Simon Rex’ charismatic, fast-talking performance as plausible sleazeball Mikey anchors a fresh con-artist story that never bores or even alienates the viewer. –KH

Good

Honey Cigar (Film, France, Kamir Aïnouz, 2020) In early 90s Paris, a college sophomore’s (Zoé Adjani) yearning for autonomy and sexual exploration hits the brick wall of her urbane Algerian parents’ overbearing, hypocritically traditional expectations for her. Memoir film favors authenticity over dramatic resolution.—RDL

Ladies’ Man (Film, US, Lothar Mendes, 1931) When he falls for a woman (Kay Francis) who sees through him, a melancholy gigolo (William Powell) decides to go straight, but a high-strung fling (Carole Lombard) has other ideas. From the cast and premise you might expect a screwball comedy, but this is a racy, downbeat melodrama.—RDL

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