Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Confess Fletch, Vengeance, and Edward Gorey

December 13th, 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.


Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey (Nonfiction, Karen Wilkin (ed.), 2002) Wilkin assembles a collection of interviews with Gorey between 1973 and 1999, providing insight into Gorey’s process, devotion to the ballet, love of cats, and intermittently his career. As most interview collections do, this retreads the same ground occasionally, but it gives the eager Goreyite a better sense of who that enormous weird artist in the fur coat actually might have been. –KH

Confess, Fletch (Film, US, Greg Mottola, 2022) Former investigative reporter Fletch (Jon Hamm) lies and snarks through a hunt for stolen paintings in Boston. Hamm’s Fletch is less wacky than Chevy Chase’s incarnation, but emulsifies the Fletch blend of jerkiness and humor just as well: he’s fun to watch annoy his co-stars, in sum. If this had come out in 1992 or even 2002 I might have given it a mere Good, but by simply being a well-lit, capable comic mystery for grown-ups in under 100 minutes, it gets the Recommended bounce in this era of streaming suckily. –KH

Rogues’ Gallery: The Rise (and Occasional Fall) of Art Dealers, the Hidden Players in the History of Art (Nonfiction, Philip Hook, 2017) After a brief nod to ancient Rome, this broad survey with chapter-long individual portraits covers the development of the art sales trade from the early modern period, following the trajectory of dealers from selling the works of the safely dead to their current role in building careers and shaping tastes. Written with wit, erudition, and an insider’s perspective, plus tasty morsels of gossip.—RDL

Val (Film, US, Leo Scott & Ting Poo, 2022) Actor Val Kilmer has obsessively filmed his life since childhood; Scott and Poo assemble footage for an autobiopic that doubles as a meditation on acting. Kilmer’s throat cancer having destroyed his career, it also subtextually interrogates the currently deprecated contribution of superb physicality to acting. Kilmer’s son Jack reads Val’s affecting narration. –KH

Vengeance (Film, US, B.J. Novak, 2022) When a girl he hooked up with in New York overdoses in Texas, journalist Ben (B.J. Novak) decides to launch his true-crime podcast by attending her funeral. Novak performs the minor miracle of making a “New Yorker in Texas” movie without otherizing Texas, and while not remotely hiding New York’s flaws. Add to that a genuinely intriguing “true crime” story, sensational supporting performances from Boyd Holbrook (as her older brother) and Ashton Kutcher (as a music producer), and a script (also by Novak) that moves from buddy-comedy zip to Western to noir philosophy, and the few stumbles melt away. –KH


Bullet Train (Film, US, David Leitch, 2022) Unlucky but self-actualizing black-bagger Ladybug (Brad Pitt) finds himself on the titular train full of wacky assassins enmeshed in at least three revenge plots. This Post-Tarantino Crime Film Lego set of a movie is indeed brightly colored and snaps together into a pleasing shape, but even the fine fight choreography and Pitt’s amiable star power can’t breathe organic life into its prefab components. It’s on Netflix now, though, so I bet streaming it while high works pretty well. –KH

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Film, US, Tom Gormican, 2022) Fading Hollywood star Nicolas Cage (playing himself on “low,” and his imaginary twin on “high,” and yes it’s that kind of movie) takes a million-dollar payday to guest at the birthday party of Spanish olive magnate Javi (Pedro Pascal), but discovers the CIA is interested as well. This is also the kind of movie where the characters talk about the kind of movie they should make and it’s the kind of movie you’re watching, golly. The hangout film Cage and Pascal initially pitch each other would probably have been a better film than this one, though, as their byplay works better than the second or third act do. –KH

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