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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Futura Dogs

April 3rd, 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

Annihilation (Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer, 2014) A nameless biologist encounters the mysteries of Area X, including the mystery of its effect on her. Not many Gothics focus on ennui and introversion, for obvious reasons, and it’s a tribute to VanderMeer’s prose style and inventive blend of nature writing and the eerie that this one remains compelling. High concepts of free will, perception, and other dimensions surface briefly and vanish again, much like the creatures in the swamps of the Southern Reach. –KH

The Arena (Fiction, William Haggard, 1961) Soft-spoken spymaster works discreetly behind the scenes to prevent a foreign enemy from acquiring an old-school merchant bank, which in turn controls the firm behind a strategic radar technology. Coolly unheightened spy thriller elements provide a vessel for an examination of class mores and mannerisms as minutely detailed as anything this side of Jane Austen.—RDL

Franca: Chaos and Creation (Film, US/Italy, Francesco Carrozzini, 2016) Documentarian profiles his mother, Franca Sozzani, who remade Vogue Italia into a showcase for striking, often disturbing art photography blending fashion with provocation. The family relationship lends emotional throughline to a rich barrage of challenging, glamourous images tinged with a latent weird horror sensibility.—RDL

Isle of Dogs (Film, US, Wes Anderson, 2018) Pack of canines exiled to a trash island off retrofuture Japan help the plucky distant nephew of a sinister politico search for his beloved short-haired Oceanic speckle-eared sport hound. Stop-motion animated adventure is both Anderson’s most conventionally structured film, and the most whimsical and charming parable about the ever-present specter of genocide one could imagine. —RDL

Legion Season 1 (Television, US, FX, 2017) Mental patient David Haller (Dan Stevens) slowly discovers his mutant heritage while forces outside and inside attempt to use him and/or kill him. Formally audacious and beautifully styled, and best of all exactly the right length, Legion could not be more different from the molasses-and-murk Netflix school of Marvel TV. Outside Stevens and his anima (played by Aubrey Plaza) the casting is uneven, but the writing and the production design carry each episode from strength to strength. –KH

Texts From Jane Eyre (Nonfiction, Mallory Ortberg, 2014) Ortberg reduces the great works of literature (and the Sweet Valley High novels) to childish, needy, downright insane text messages — usually to another character who responds with befuddlement, disinterest, or codependent mania. The gag shouldn’t work twice, but in the hands of possibly the greatest humorist of the 21st century, it almost always lands. Reading the texts all straight through is like eating a whole pie — unhealthy, but sooo much fun. –KH

Tom at the Farm (Film, Canada, Xavier Dolan, 2013) Young Montrealer (Xavier Dolan) in rural Quebec to attend the funeral of his boyfriend falls into a twisted relationship with the dead man’s menacing brother. The fear of gay-bashing adds a layer of logic to the French rural horror sub-genre in his moody, arresting journey into Hitchcockian dread.—RDL

Good

TV (The Book) (Nonfiction, Mark Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, 2016) Under the guise of listing “the 100 greatest American shows of all time,” (from The Simpsons to Terriers, since you asked) Sepinwall and Seitz compile an attempt at a canon for the least canonized of media. Much of their critical insight boils down to nothing much more than “we really liked it,” but TV criticism as a field is still in its infancy. The usual sins of presentism, me-tooism, and Bochco-ism notwithstanding, they do an acceptable job of it — they do pick the correct Star Trek as the best one, for example (TOS at #62). –KH

Not Recommended

Kidnapped (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1974) Ultraviolent knuckleheads on the run after an payroll robbery take a woman hostage, then hijack a car driven by a man with a sick child. When you take the politics out of poliziotteschi, all you have left is nihilistic depravity, here realized with unwelcome brio by horror master Bava. Better encapsulated by its alternate title, Rabid Dogs.—RDL

3 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Futura Dogs”

  1. Randy Shipp says:

    Terriers was #100? God, I loved that show.

  2. Randy Shipp says:

    Also, Ken, did reading Annihilation change your thoughts on the movie at all?

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