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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Galaxies Far Far Away and Also Regular Far Away

December 20th, 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

All These Worlds Are Yours (Nonfiction, Jon Willis, 2016) Succinct yet meaty tour of the various likely spots to look for extraterrestrial life, and the costs and difficulties associated with finding them. Spoiler: Willis is an Enceladus man. Bonus points for dropping the boring personal anecdotes required by editors of popular science books in favor of the occasional witty aside.—RDL

The Mermaid (Film, China, Stephen Chow, 2016) Guileless young woman falls for the environment-despoiling tycoon her fellow merfolk have sent her to assassinate. A big CGI budget gives Chow all the resources he needs to precision-execute his Chuck Jones riffs in this comedy-fantasy-actioner. Those unsteeped in the rapidfire tone shifts of the Hong Kong movie tradition may be taken aback by its veer from slapstick violence to distressingly bloody violence.—RDL

Neruda (Film, Chile, Pablo Larrain, 2016) Cynical secret policeman (Gael Garcia Bernal) hunts politician-poet Pablo Neruda after the Chilean government issues a warrant for his arrest in 1947. Magical-realist manhunt biopic shot in the blues and purples of a faded photograph.—RDL. Seen at TIFF ‘16; now in North American theatrical release.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Film, US, Gareth Edwards, 2016) In cold rationality, this is a Good war movie bumped up a rank by the presence of AT-ATs and similar delightful Empire chic. The story sprawls a lot, and with the exception of Donnie Yen’s wannabe Jedi and Alan Tudyk’s smartmouth droid, the characters never come to even Hammill-level life. But Edwards can shoot fights and apocalypses well, which is what matters here. –KH

Good

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show (Film, Ireland, Des Doyle, 2014) Anecdote-rich documentary casts a wide net of interviews, but hauls in a basic primer on the topic with little focus or direction. It’s enjoyable while you’re watching it, but it doesn’t really say or illuminate anything except “showrunning is hard work” and “showbiz is a lottery,” which most viewers probably knew already. –KH

Okay

The Fade Out, Volume 1 (Comic, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, 2015) Screenwriter prone to alcoholic blackouts goes about his business after finding a murdered starlet in his apartment. Brings in all the requisite elements for a 50s-set Hollywood noir, but saddles itself with a passive, checked-out protagonist who drifts through scenes instead of driving them.—RDL

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