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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Flintlocks and Murder Rooms and Rock ‘n’ Roll

December 7th, 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.

Recommended

The Goodbye Kiss (Fiction, Massimo Carlotto, 2006) Conscienceless ex-terrorist works his way, one murder at a time, from a Central American guerrilla squad to center-right respectability back in his native Italy. Spare, brutal psychological thriller recalls Highsmith’s Ripley novels, with a Berlusconi-era political spin.–RDL

The Judas Pair (Fiction, Jonathan Gash, 1977) First novel in the series featuring the polymathic antiques dealer Lovejoy, here in pursuit of a mythical pair of flintlock dueling pistols. The weird emotional switchbacks add spice (and occasionally discomfort) to a fine treasure-hunting novel with lots of digressions into the lore of things old and valuable. –KH

Roadies Season 1 (TV, Showtime, Cameron Crowe, 2016) Ensemble drama follows the backstage crew of a stadium rock tour as they love one another and, above all, the music. Series television gives Crowe, who has struggled recently with the structural constraints of feature film, room for his discursive exploration of life’s small and beautiful moments. Too much so to get picked up for a second season, sadly, but this season is written to tell a complete story and will still reward a binge.–RDL

Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle Season 3 (TV, BBC, 2014) Standup Stewart Lee performs six elaborately constructed routines, each of which starts with a hack premise and builds to something big and dark. As a non-Brit I did have to do some Googling to contextualize certain of the pop culture figures he’s slagging. Remember, “Not all animals are trying to satirize things.”—RDL

Good

New York Rocker: My Life in the Blank Generation with Blondie, Iggy Pop, and Others 1974-1981 (Nonfiction, Gary Valentine, 2006) Conversational memoir by the bassist for Blondie sets the New York street music scene with lively detail, but rather than continue his metaphor of a new Decadence he gets distracted by personalities and trivia — much like the scene he describes, really. Still quite interesting for punk historians looking for the deviationist view of the war between punk and pop. –KH

Secret Beyond the Door (Film, US, Fritz Lang, 1948) Sheltered society ornament Celia (Joan Bennett) impulsively marries architect Mark (Michael Redgrave) only to discover he has a sister, a dead wife, a son, and oh yeah a house full of painstakingly reconstructed murder rooms. Lang bullied scriptwriter Silvia Richards (also his mistress) into tailoring the already top-heavily Freudian story to his visual predilections, resulting in a dreamlike stream of amazing set pieces that fizzle narratively, sadly undermining the superb acting, cinematography, and score. –KH

Not Recommended

Phantom Detective (Film, South Korea, Sung-hee Jo, 2016) Ruthless vigilante private detective with a fragmented grasp of his own identity hunts the man who murdered his mother, with his intended victim’s annoyingly adorable granddaughters in tow. Offers some cool moments of comic book stylization, but the unreliable viewpoint thing is so dominant that it becomes an engagement killer.–RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Flintlocks and Murder Rooms and Rock ‘n’ Roll”

  1. Steve Dempsey says:

    Lovejoy was a staple of cosy TV with Ian McShane, the future Al Swearengen, as the loveable rogue.

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