Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Godzilla x Kong, Last Voyage of the Demeter, Haunting in Venice

April 23rd, 2024 | Robin


The Pigeon Tunnel (Film, US, Errol Morris, 2023) Documentary companion piece to the memoir of the same name presents the life and work of David Cornwell, aka John le Carré. In the latest installment of his examination of cold war wreckage, master interrogator Morris meets his match in Cornwell, who knows exactly how much he intends to reveal and remains the author of his own narrative.—RDL

Priscilla (Film, US, Sofia Coppola, 2023) Lonely high schooler (Cailee Spaeny) at an American military base in Germany meets and falls for its most famous sergeant, Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi), kicking off a love story in the penumbra of fame. Observant study of a doomed marriage in which fashion and decor serve as story beats.—RDL


Cymbeline (Film, US, Michael Almereyda, 2014) The young protege (Penn Badgley) of a stubborn biker kingpin (Ed Harris) crosses him by having an affair with his daughter (Dakota Johnson.) In the style of Almereyda’s 2000 Hamlet, this is, save perhaps for Johnson’s unfortunate struggle with the text, the best postmodern film of Shakespeare’s worst play one could possibly make.—RDL

Old Henry (Film, US, Potsy Ponciroli, 2021) A taciturn farmer with a dark past (Tim Blake Nelson) shelters a wounded man on the run from a long-winded bank robber (Stephen Dorff.) Scores with well-staged shootouts and Nelson’s embodiment of the coot you don’t want to mess with, but leaves out the mythic resonance the western calls for.—RDL


A Haunting in Venice (Film, US, Kenneth Branagh, 2023) No-longer-bestselling mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) drags Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) out of retirement to investigate a medium, Mrs. Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh). Apparently the only thing more tiresome than Branagh’s endless mugging Poirot is Branagh’s refusing-the-call Poirot, and even Tina Fey disappoints with uneven readings of a clunky script. The ghostly hugger-mugger and Venetian atmosphere are effective enough, though, and cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos manages the difficult task of clearly shooting murky darkness on digital with something of the old Hollywood sheen.—KH

The Last Voyage of the Demeter (Film, US, André Øvredal, 2023) Medico Clemens (Corey Hawkins) signs on aboard the Demeter, carrying a crated cargo from Romania to England in 1897. The least imaginative treatment of the source material unfolds at a plodding two-hour pace. David Dastmalchian (who performs minor miracles with his minor part) is apparently the only human on board a resolutely non-claustrophobic ship inhabited by two-dimensional cutouts and a CGI vampire. Bear McCreary’s score belongs in a much better film.—KH

Saltburn (Film, UK, Emerald Fennell, 2023) Thirsty prole (Barry Keoghan) falls for his aristocratic Oxford classmate (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to the family estate for the summer. The script for this cover version of Pasolini’s Teorema remade in Ken Russell’s style seems not just crashingly obvious but also incoherent, at least until its full archconservative nihilism heaves into view.—RDL

Not Recommended

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Film, US, Adam Wingard, 2024) Kong’s search for kin and Godzilla’s hunt for the other Titans eventually intersect when the evil super-ape Skar King and his enslaved titan Shimo try to conquer the surface world. As fun as that may sound, the actual movie is about 90% exposition and 20% monster fights, and the monster fights are mostly MCU-style weightless light shows, with very sporadic touches of Toho grit. The entirely CGI interaction between Kong and baby super-ape Suko manages to feel more real than any of the alleged human characters can manage.  A real fall-off, even by Monsterverse standards.—KH

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