Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Elizabeth Hand’s Hell House Sequel, Please Don’t Destroy, Quiz Lady

November 28th, 2023 | 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.


Black Sheep (Film, US, Allan Dwan, 1935) Suave gambler (Edmund Lowe) and kicky actress (Claire Trevor) team up to rescue a swell young fellow from the clutches of a predatory jewel thief. Effervescent shipboard con artist comedy.—RDL

Christine (Film, US, Antonio Campos, 2016) Troubled local TV news reporter (Rebecca Hall) spirals as her drive to succeed collides with her inability to read and interact successfully with her colleagues. Hall gives a precise and heartbreaking performance in this evocative character portrait docudrama.—RDL

A Haunting on the Hill (Fiction, Elizabeth Hand, 2023) Playwright Holly Sherwin rents the empty Hill House with her cast and tech designer to workshop her new witch-trial play, adapted from a Jacobean original, in this (estate-approved) sequel to Shirley Jackson’s Pinnacle novel. Hand was never going to equal the greatest horror novel of all time, so she writes a different story about human frailty colliding with the unnatural, rich in metafiction, drama, and “I just can’t read this next part” dread. It’s not a remake or even a cover version, and it’s barely even a sequel, but it’s another deeply satisfying (and horripilating) Elizabeth Hand novel. —KH

Madame Freedom (Film, South Korea, Hyeong-mo Han, 1956) Reserved woman (Jeong-rim Kim) stifled by her self-centered wet blanket husband (Am Park) falls into the arms of a young jazz fan neighbor and a wealthy politician. Subtly drawn domestic drama of yearning for more in an age of modernization.—RDL

Please Don’t Destroy: the Treasure of Foggy Mountain (Film, US, Paul Briganti, 2023) Underachieving sporting goods retailers (Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, Ben Marshall) test their childhood friendship when they discover a legendary artifact and must defend it from disaffected park rangers (Megan Stalter, X Mayo) and a purple-clad cult leader (Bowen Yang.) Joke-packed, loopy comedy updates the SNL movie to the kindly mores of the cozy generation.—RDL

Quiz Lady (Film, US, Jessica Yu, 2023) When loan sharks kidnap her dog, a repressed accountant (Awkwafina) gives in to the urgings of her voluble train wreck older sister (Sandra Oh) and auditions to become a contestant on the quiz show that has obsessed her since childhood. Smart, affectionate buddy comedy flips expectations on who will play which side of the mythic Felix/Oscar opposition.—RDL


The Devil is a Sissy (Film, W.S. Van Dyke & Rowland Brown, 1936) English boy (Freddie Bartholomew) enrolls in a tough NYC school and falls in with budding delinquents (Mickey Rooney, Jackie Cooper.) Strongly characterized comedy-drama seeks social responsibility but winds up showing that we prefer our onscreen rogues unreformed.—RDL

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