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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Godzilla vs. Kong, Tenet, and the King of Ontario Bootleggers

May 11th, 2021 | 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.

The Pinnacle

A New Leaf (Film, US, Elaine May, 1971) Having burned through his own fortune, a haughty idler (Walter Matthau) woos a mousy, rich botanist (Elaine May), planning to murder her after the wedding. Witty dialogue and a hilarious Matthau turn are the obvious pleasures of this black romantic comedy, but it’s the tightrope tonal balance between jaundice and warmth that justly earns its cult fave status.—RDL

Recommended

Colonia (Film. Germany, Florian Gallenberger, 2015) English flight attendant (Emma Watson) joins a cult that, among other crimes, tortures dissidents for the freshly installed Pinochet regime, in hopes of finding and freeing her German activist boyfriend (Daniel Bruhl.) Nail-biting suspense flick places an appalling real-life horror in a genre package.—RDL

Godzilla vs. Kong (Film, US, Adam Wingard, 2021) After Godzilla mysteriously attacks an Apex Corp research station, Apex recruits geologist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to lead an expedition to the Hollow Earth and he convinces Kong’s handler Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) to bring Kong as their guide. I have just spent almost as much time setting this up as the film does, getting us into the monster fights and hollow earth tourism efficiently. Script and direction embrace the operatic nonsense that is the other way (besides, you know, genuine horror or pathos) to make a great kaiju film, wisely sidelining human characters as often as possible. –KH

Tenet (Film, US, Christopher Nolan, 2020) Ultra-competent CIA operative (John David Washington) draws the abused ex-wife (Elzabeth Debicki)  of a psychopathic oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) into his bid to capture reality-shattering devices from the future. Nolan once again pits a thriller protagonist against the forces of Borgesian unknowability, with gob-smacking action set pieces and inverted exposition meant not to explain, but to baffle.—RDL

Whisky King (Nonfiction, Trevor Cole, 2017) Armed with a mastery of gangland diplomacy and a common law wife who acts as his full co-equal in crime, Rocco Perri runs bootlegging in Prohibition-era Ontario, with undercover RCMP investigator and fellow Italian immigrant Frank Zaneth on his trail. Rich portrayal of a murder-strewn history belies my province’s myth of beatific dullness. If you like historical true crime, you’ll dig this, even if none of the crime scenes are within walking distance of your apartment.—RDL

Good

Mandalay (Film, US, Michael Curtiz, 1934) After the gun runner she loves (Ricardo Cortez)  sells her to a Rangoon nightclub, a glamorous White Russian refugee (Kay Francis) gains power over men and seeks a new life. Atmospheric melodrama with a decidedly pre-Code approach to its protagonist’s feminist liberation..—RDL

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