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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Forget What You Know About Amnesia

November 6th, 2018 | 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.

Recommended

Halloween (Film, US, David Gordon Green, 2018) Forty years after his 1978 killing spree, Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield, where survivalist Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been waiting to kill him. Easily the best sequel to that Pinnacle horror film, it works because it tosses out all the cruft and returns to Carpenter’s original for its myth (and many of its story beats). Like Carpenter, Green cannily provides enough character to invest the viewer in the horror, while also inserting not quite enough meta to take you back out of it. –KH

I Love You Again (Film, US, W. S. van Dyke, 1940) After a conk on the head, con artist (William Powell) realizes that he’s been living an entirely different life for the last nine years—as a small town stuffed shirt whose beguiling wife (Myrna Loy) intends to divorce him. Set aside tiresome notions of how amnesia works to delight in the ineffable timing and charm of its leads in this lesser-known screwball comedy.—RDL

Michael Curtiz; A Life in Film (Nonfiction, Alan K. Rode, 2017) Biography of the  director of classics such as Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and White Christmas whips its deep research into the narrative shape its splenetic, hard-charging subject would have demanded. If you need your artists to be swell people, you can strike another titan of the studio era from your list, in this case for bullying, parental neglect and a sometimes shocking disregard for workplace safety.—RDL

The Mission (Film, Hong Kong, Johnnie To, 1999) After surviving a hit, triad boss Lung hires five experts (Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Jackie Lui, Roy Cheung, Lam Suet) to keep him alive. How this stripped-down, elegant, macho crime thriller hasn’t already had two disappointing Hollywood remakes is beyond me, but here we are. The gunfight on the escalator more than makes up for the sniper scene that maybe goes on a little too long. –KH

The Other Side of the Wind (Film, US, Orson Welles, 2018) Legendary director (John Huston) holds party for flunkies and film world notables to screen footage from his nearly completed, sex-drenched experimental picture. Even if it had been released when shot, rather than four decades later and posthumously, this aesthetic whirl of old Hollywood and 60s European art cinema would have played as a battle between eras. Now, with most of its cast dead, including the young bucks, it lands as a disturbance in the timestream.—RDL

Providence (Comics, Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows, 2015-2017) In 1919, closeted journalist Robert Black goes on the trail of the mystical underground of New England, encountering figures and phenomena later thinly fictionalized by H.P. Lovecraft. Moore deepens his Neonomicon storyline, and continues his project of depicting the “nameless orgiastic blasphemies” that HPL decorously cloaked. Moore’s mastery of the form and deep command of the material produce another great work. –KH [Note: If you don’t want lots of penises in your comics, you don’t want this book.]

Good

The Babysitter (Film, US, McG, 2017) Dorky 12-year-old fraidycat Cole (Judah Lewis) can only really connect with his hot babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving) so of course she’s up to fell Satanic doings. Energetic direction of a better-than-average script by Brian Duffield blends Home Alone with an 80s slasher film to ultimately fun effect. If we must have coming-of-age arcs, this is the way to have them: 80 minutes long and doused in fake blood. –KH

Okay

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (US, Film, Morgan Neville, 2018) Documentary about the fractured making and financial unmaking of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind (q.v.) provides essential context for its surprise completion. In addition to the odd omission of any information on its reconstruction, its tone is surprisingly corny if not outright condescending for a doc on such a mold-busting work of art.—RDL

You Might Be the Killer (Film, US, Brett Simmons, 2018) Camp counselor Sam (Fran Kranz) calls slasher-buff pal Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) for advice on his weird memory lapses and oh yeah all these murdered counselors. Longer, but not vastly more enjoyable than, its Twitter inspiration. More importantly, it has no more ideas to play with than that and kinda wastes Alyson Hannigan to boot. –KH

Not Recommended

Luke Cage Season 2 (Television, US, Cheo Hodari Coker, Netflix, 2018) Luke (Mike Colter) copes with his anger issues and reluctantly circles a reconciliation with his estranged father (Reg E. Cathey) as Mariah’s (Alfre Woodard) efforts to go legit are challenged by the brutal, grudge-bearing Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir.) It’s so frustrating to see a beacon of Afrocentric superhero storytelling killed off by muddled throughlines, an endless procession of inconsequential dramatic scenes, and the writing room’s evident conviction that Luke Cage is the fourth or fifth most interesting character in a show called “Luke Cage.”—RDL

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