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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Daredevil, Red Hook, and the Scottish Play

March 22nd, 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.

The Pinnacle

Macbeth (Film, UK, Justin Kurzel, 2015) Scottish warlord (Michael Fassbender) finds himself trapped in a waking nightmare by witches’ prophecy and his wife’s (Marion Cotillard) hatred of the world. Tight adaptation of Shakespeare turns medieval Scotland into a dreamlike apocalypse; Jed Kurzel’s lowering score seals you in, and Fassbender and Cotillard force you to believe in it. –KH

The Wannek (Fiction, Jack Vance, 1969) Strange beings and stranger social customs impede the attempts of an Earthman castaway on the planet Tschai to acquire a spaceship.. Second installment of the series formerly known as Planet of Adventure blossoms into 100% Vancianness, as his hero evolves from a jut-jawed American problem solver into a figure of acerbic wiles. You may remember this as Servants of the Wankh, because in 1969 Google wasn’t around to tell you that elsewhere in the English-speaking world your name for an alien race carried unintended connotations. —RDL


The Ballad of Black Tom (Fiction, Victor LaValle, 2016) Re-tells Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook” from the perspective of cultist-magus Robert Suydam’s heretofore unknown African-American sidekick. Short, scary, effective. –KH

Daredevil Season 2 (TV, Netflix Original, 2016) Matt Murdock loses himself in his Daredevil persona as he confronts separate conspiracies involving, respectively, a killer vigilante and his ninja ex-girlfriend. Running competing storylines in parallel robs this season of the original’s focus. Scores points however for a radical retake on the Punisher that immediately eclipses all previous interpretations.—RDL

Europe at Midnight (Fiction, David Hutchinson, 2015) Sequel to Europe in Autumn (previously Consumed here) reads more straightforwardly SFnal. The innate Kafkaism of the spy genre mostly substitutes for the previous novel’s weirdness. –KH

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Film, Matthew Vaughn, 2014) Wildly and weirdly reactionary, this over-the-top spy actioner pits a young recruit (Taron Egerton) to the Kingsman order of gentleman spies against a cosmopolitan tech billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to stop global warming. Propulsive and hyperviolent, a Nolan Batman movie on Bond-flick acid. –KH

Memories of the Sword (Film, South Korea, Park Heung-shik, 2015) Impetuous young martial artist learns the tale of love and betrayal that requires her to seek vengeance against a power-hungry rebel-turned-general (Lee Byung-hun.) Beautifully staged Korean wuxia features a resolution for its melodramatic hook to stand alongside any in Asian action cinema. If it’s in your Netflix region, you’ll  have to search for its original-language title, Hyeomnyeo: Kar-ui gi-eok. —RDL

Old Venus (Fiction, Gardner Dozois & George RR Martin, eds., 2015) Crammed with above-average short stories from Joe Haldeman, Allen Steele, Joe R. Lansdale, Elizabeth Bear, et al. set on the wet, monster-filled, fantastic retro-Venus of Brackett, Kline, et al. My fave: Lavie Tidhar’s beautifully Weird Tales-ish “The Drowned Celestial.” –KH


Duns on Bond (Non-fiction, Jeremy Duns, 2015) Top-notch spy novelist investigates the lost script of The Diamond Spy (based on Fleming’s The Diamond Smugglers), a lost Bond novel by South African thriller writer Geoffrey Jenkins, the lost Ben Hecht script for Casino Royale, and other topics from SmerSH to amnesiac agents. Bump up to Recommended for Fleming die-hards. –KH

Punisher: War Zone (Film, US, Lexi Alexander, 2008) Vigilante’s attack on the mob grotesquely disfigures a gangster (Dominic West), who dubs himself Jigsaw and vows revenge. Alexander directs the hell out of a laboriously plotted script, infusing its ultra-violence with the midnight movie sensibility that built its rep as an unheralded cult fave.—RDL

What We Do in the Shadows (Film, New Zealand, Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi, 2014) Amiable if toothless (sorry) mockumentary about a quartet of vampire flatmates in Wellington, NZ. The steady humor comes almost exclusively from the incongruity of sad-sack supernaturals in petty trouble, although there’s a lot of murder for a romp. –KH

Not Recommended

Flaked Season 1 (TV, Netflix Original, 2016) Detritus manchild (Will Arnett) dwells among the “colorful” characters of Venice, CA making his, and their, lives steadily worse through lies, selfishness, and apathy. Supposedly a drama-comedy, it’s neither, although there are one or two good character turns and one or two funny bits. In four hours. –KH

5 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Daredevil, Red Hook, and the Scottish Play”

  1. Jeff Kahrs says:

    Would lead be to see you expound on “Black Tom” in the larger context of reimagining Lovecraft

  2. E says:

    The How Did This Get Made podcast did an episode on Punisher War Zone that featured both Patton Oswalt (as a fan of the movie) and the director Lexi Alexander. Some great behind the scenes stories made me appreciate it much more than I had on previous viewing.

  3. Cambias says:

    They’ll always be Wankhmen to me.

  4. Casey Nedry says:

    Congratulations gentlemen on winning RPGGeek podcast of the year and another tip of the hat to The Dracula Dossier for winning best supplement.

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