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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Get Back, RRR, a Korean Political Thriller, and a Japanese Neo-Orthodox Detective Novel

June 21st, 2022 | 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

The Beatles: Get Back (Television, UK/New Zealand/US, Peter Jackson, 2021) Exhaustive fly-on-the-wall documentary assembles footage shot for 1970’s Let It Be into a step-by-step study of the making of the Beatles’ next-to-final album. Essential not only for fans of the music but for anyone who wants to see what does and doesn’t work in the process of creative negotiation.—RDL

The Decagon House Murders (Fiction, Yukito Ayatsuji, 1987) Seven members of a university Mystery Club travel to a remote island (the site of a mysterious multiple murder) despite having read Agatha Christie. Ayatsuji’s inspired riff on And Then There Were None exemplifies the “neo-orthodox” (shin honkaku) school of Japanese detective fiction. Somewhat stilted prose may or may not be a translation artifact, but it doesn’t obscure the lightning joy of reading this loving tribute. –KH

The Man Standing Next (Film, South Korea, Woo Min-ho, 2020) Current KCIA Director Kim-Gyu-peong (Lee Byung-hun) is torn between his mentor and his master as former KCIA Director Park Yong-gak (Kwak Do-won) threatens to reveal dictatorial President Park Chung-hee’s (Lee Sung-min) corruption. Superbly ratcheting up the tension, not least in Lee Byung-hun’s incredible performance, this political thriller steers a slightly too-byzantine course toward the historical assassination of President Park in 1979. –KH

RRR (Film, India, S.S. Rajamouli , 2022) Village champion (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) sent to retrieve a young girl stolen by the evil British and the ultra-determined army officer (Ram Charan) assigned to hunt him down unwittingly become fast friends. Ultra-heightened action musical agitprop melodrama blockbuster is exuberantly on the nose at all times. Ends on an out-of-character musical celebration of militant ultra-nationalism, in case you somehow missed the message of the previous three hours.—RDL

Okay

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus (Film, Croatia, Dalibor Baric, 2020) Weird meetings and ominous rendezvous promise (and withhold) the emergence of a futuristic spy narrative. Experimental animated feature adds computer image filtering to a range of techniques including cut-outs and detourned footage.—RDL

Kruty 1918 (Film, Ukraine, Oleksii Shapariev, 2019) In 1918 Kyiv menaced by the Bolshevik invaders, brothers Oleksa (Andrey Fedinchik) and Andrii (Evgeniy Lamakh) Savytskyi turn unwillingly to espionage and war, respectively. While Vitaly Saliy wonderfully chews every available surface as (historically) cartoonishly evil Russian general Muravyov, the mediocre fight and war choreography sadly undermine the propagandistic virtues of an already badly cluttered film. –KH

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