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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Dolemite, Parasite and Growing Up Haunted

November 5th, 2019 | 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 Pinnacle

Parasite (Film, South Korea, Bong Joon-ho, 2019) In a series of scams, a poor family infiltrates a rich household’s staff. Superbly executed con artist film becomes something more unpredictable in this assured, controlled masterpiece blending architecture, class struggle, and shock. –KH

Recommended

Dolemite is My Name (Film, US, Craig Brewer, 2019) Comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) gains underground fame for X-rated party records and a scrappy indie movie featuring his boastful pimp character. Screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, specialists in cult cultural figure biopics, add another notch to their belts with this tale of lovable underdogs making it their own way.—RDL

Nameless (Comics, Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham, 2015) A nameless occult specialist gets drafted into a billionaire’s space mission to divert the asteroid Xibalba. Or gets trapped in PTSD after a seance gone horribly wrong. Or both. Or neither. Or something else. Morrison presents, and Burnham illuminates, a relativistic cosmic horror magic story with no privileged narrative that is extremely my jam. Much brilliance on display, and much blood. –KH

The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family (Nonfiction, Lindsay Wong, 2018) The author recounts her bruising upbringing in a pricey, grow-op ridden Vancouver suburb, as part of a family unswervingly wedded to understanding its endemic mental illness as ghost possession. Startling and often cruelly funny memoir of pain and growth in a familial mirror universe.—RDL

Good

The Four False Weapons (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1938) When an English playboy’s former mistress is found dead in his Paris hideaway chateau, Bencolin comes out of retirement. The plot is almost too thick and rich, pummeling the reader into acquiescence in the sea of clues and details, and Bencolin without the Gothic loses his iconic character without gaining very much humanity. But still, a solid read and a compelling ride. –KH

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Film, US, Angela Robinson, 2017) The lives of a convention-flouting psychologist (Luke Evans), his smarter wife (Rebecca Hall) and their girlfriend (Bella Heathcote) filter into his comic book hero, an Amazon with a penchant for tying up her enemies. Engagingly written and acted biopic goes beyond confirmable fact to more clearly portray its protagonists as early heroes of the kink and polyamory movements.—RDL

Okay

Being Napoleon (Film, US, Jesse Handsher & Olivier Roland, 2018) Documentary about the two leading contenders to play Napoleon Bonaparte at the 200th anniversary re-enactment of Waterloo loses steam (and focus) when one contender wins about two-thirds of the way through and the film switches (without result) to the general subject of re-enactors and why they bother. –KH

In the Tall Grass (Film, US, Vincenzo Natali, 2019) Distressed cries lure a traveling brother and sister into an overgrown field concealing a deadly space-time anomaly. A Stephen King/ Joe Hill novella gives Natali a sinister green playground for his creepy visual imagination, but pays the price of its  desultory Kingian characterizations.—RDL

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