Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Gritty Hong Kong Crime Drama, John Waters Fiction, and Dark Body Horror Supers from Takashi Miike

January 24th, 2023 | 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.


Connect Season 1 (Television, South Korea, Disney+/Hulu, Takashi Miike, 2022) Young junkyard employee with grotesque regenerative powers (Jung Hae-in) loses an eye to organ traffickers, gaining unwanted insight into the activities of the serial killer (Go Kyung-Pyo) it has been transplanted into. Gritty body horror dark superhero thriller anchored by Miike’s mastery of the outré.—RDL

Hand Rolled Cigarette (Film, HK, Kin Long Chan, 2022) Veteran of the UK forces in Hong Kong who has been reduced to petty gangsterism (Ka-Tung Lam) reluctantly shelters a young South Asian man (Bipin Karma) secretly in possession of cocaine bricks stolen from his boss. Gritty, character-driven crime drama in crusty guy comes out of his shell mode escalates to an extended, crunching fight sequence.—RDL

Liarmouth (Fiction, John Waters, 2019) When her airport luggage theft business comes a-cropper, a contemptuous pathological liar provokes pursuit from her horny, dimwitted accomplice and wronged trampoline cultist daughter. Satirical, breakneck chase thriller, unfettered by the limits of the filmable, meets the new respectability and finds it the same as the old respectability, thus ripe for gleeful roasting.—RDL

The Mortal Storm (Film, US, Frank Borzage, 1940) When Hitler comes to power in 1933, Freya (Margaret Sullavan), daughter of a prominent Jewish medical professor (Frank Morgan), sees the difference between the two men who love her, a pushy Nazi (Robert Young) and an assuming pacifist (James Stewart.) Borzage devotes his poignant, mystical humanism to Hollywood’s effort to prepare American popular opinion for its entry into WWII. This is your great-grandfather’s antifascism, and pretty darn effective.—RDL

The Northman (Film, US, Robert Eggers, 2022) Viking prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) poses as a thrall and allies with a heroic Slavic witch (Anya Taylor-Joy) to avenge the murder of his royal father by the cruel uncle (Claes Bang), who has married his mother (Nicole Kidman.) Brutal spectacle fills the screen in this pre-Christian inversion of Hamlet from a story of action vs contemplation to one of choice vs fate.—RDL


The Mystery of the Blue Train (Fiction, Agatha Christie, 1928) On the verge of a divorce, American heiress Ruth Kettering is killed on the Blue Train from Paris to Nice; her father hires Poirot to find the killer. Flashes of mature character drown under lurid, sensationalized plot, generating no real atmosphere while the puzzle seems forgotten or almost arbitrary at times. Christie herself “downgraded” anyone who enjoyed this novel, so I guess we agree. –KH

Not Recommended

The Big Four (Fiction, Agatha Christie, 1927) Captain Hastings returns to Poirot’s London flat just as a mysterious courier delivers a post-hypnotic dying message revealing the Big Four – an international crime syndicate headed by a mysterious Chinaman of all things. Christie’s serialized attempt at Sax Rohmer fails as a fixup novel and as a surreal thriller and almost entirely as a mystery. If there’s a worse Poirot book, I hope I never read it. –KH

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