Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Doctor Who, The Bikeriders, Hundreds of Beavers

July 2nd, 2024 | 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.


The Bikeriders (Film, US, Jeff Nichols, 2024) Chicago girl Kathy (Jody Comer) falls hard for brooding biker Benny (Austin Butler) but resents his loyalty to Chicago Vandals cycle gang boss Johnny (Tom Hardy). Nichols piles on the distance from his romantic story of girl-vs-masculine-ennui, but the individual vignettes that take the place of narrative still pop with power and (thanks to cinematographer Adam Stone and to Butler’s cheekbones) beauty. In fairness, that certainly is one way to adapt a book of photographs into a film. Perhaps drops to Good for viewers more annoyed by the unnecessary interview-as-frame-story and less enthralled by Nichols’ impressionistic recreation of 1960s Chicagoland.—KH

Crisis Negotiators (Film, China/HK, Herman Yau, 2024) When conspirators in the HKPF frame him for murder, an intense hostage negotiator (Lau Ching Wan) becomes a hostage taker himself, demanding that an ex-colleague (Francis Ng) be called out of retirement to handle the operation. Like any Hong Kong flick with a police corruption storyline these days, this gritty, crackling remake of 1998’s The Negotiator has to present itself as a pre-handover period piece.—RDL

Guilty Bystander (Film, US, Joseph Lerner, 1950) Boozehound ex-cop (Zachary Scott) hunts for his kidnapped son, leading to a tangle with a smuggling ring. Film noir notable for a grotty portrayal of down and out life unusual for its period and a rare tough guy role for Scott, better known for playing suave weasels.—RDL

Hundreds of Beavers (Film, US, Mike Cheslik, 2022) After beavers destroy his applejack distillery, Jean Kayak (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) must pit his wits against them (and other mascot-costume animals) to survive and become a trapper. While flooding the zone with jokes, this combo animation-live action flick revels in twists and turns that ultimately pay off. “Charlie Chaplin crossed with Looney Tunes” is a solid log-line, but the zaniness and invention on display in this silent slapstick comedy transcend mere retro homage.—KH

The Settlers (Film, Chile/Argentina, Felipe Gálvez Haberle, 2023) In 1901 Tierra del Fuego, a young Mestizo man (Camilo Arancibia) serves as a guide for a tortured Scots ex-soldier (Mark Stanley) sent by their mutual boss, a big time sheep rancher, to wage war on the area’s indigenous Selk’nam population. Hard-hitting, evocative Western historical drama contrasts the stunning beauty of the landscape with the depravity of its characters’ actions.—RDL


At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (Film, Brazil, José Mojica Marins, 1964) In a remote village, the murderous, blaspheming undertaker Coffin Joe (Marins) exultantly bullies the menfolk and creepily preys on women. Brazil’s first horror film, which launched Coffin Joe as a multimedia icon, presents a culturally rooted yet personally idiosyncratic take on the gothic.—RDL

Kalki 2898 A.D. (Film, India, Nag Ashwin, 2024) In the final (?) year of the Kali Yuga, the floating Complex dominates the last city Kasi, seeking fertile women to breed a mysterious energy keeping its tyrant alive. Pregnant SUM-80 (Deepika Padukone), mercenary Bhairava (Prabhas), and immortal warrior Ashwatthama (Amitabh Bachchan) find themselves caught up in ancient prophecy. The normal fight choreography and about half the props are kind of terrible, and it doesn’t justify its nearly three-hour run time, but the boss fights and chases are pretty great, and the lash of cosmicism from Hindu eschatology is a trip. If you can imagine a Hollywood that made the equivalent of Dune from the Book of Revelation you can imagine this film and the Telugu film industry; also like Dune Part One, this movie would get Robin’s Incomplete rating.—KH


Doctor Who Season 14 (Television, UK, BBC/Disney+, Russell T. Davies, 2024) In their exploits across time and space, the ebullient, empathetic fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and his youthful, down-to-earth companion Ruby Tuesday (Millie Gibson) encounter multiple iterations of a mysterious woman (Susan Twist) and investigate the mystery of her parentage. Davies’ return to the franchise finds his key strength—spotlighting his leads’ charisma and establishing a connection with the characters—still in place, and his main weakness—disregard for the structural demands of the problem-solving genre adventure—so glaring that he has written it into his story arc.—RDL

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