Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Guardians of the Galaxy, Sisu, and Early Michelle Yeoh

May 23rd, 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.


The Elusive Avengers (Film, Soviet Union, Edmond Keosayan, 1967) During the Russian civil war, a stalwart teen, backed by his sister and pals, seeks vengeance against the White Russian death squad leader who killed his father. Strikingly composed, rousing action flick with a conclusion that puts its gunslingers on a quite different path than a classic Western would.—RDL

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (Film, US, James Gunn, 2023) After Rocket is critically wounded in a battle with Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and the Guardians must wrest his override code from animal-torturing utopian social engineer the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). Gunn returns to his visually inventive style for a Marvel film that somehow doesn’t choke on its extended backstory, possibly because said backstory offers enough genuine emotional connection to balance the Guardians’ brand of careening meatheadedness. —KH

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3  (Film, US, James Gunn, 2023) To save a critically injured Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Peter (Chris Pratt) snaps out of his romantic self-pity to lead the Guardians against the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji.) Clear goals and motivations for the protagonists and antagonist, an understanding of how superhero fights ought to advance narrative, a full color palette, image contrast, actual fight choreography, and a balance of comedy and genuine emotion make this the strongest MCU film in a long time.—RDL

In Search of the Third Man (Nonfiction, Charles Drazin, 1999) Drazin goes deep into studio records, interviews, and memoirs to uncover the story of the making of Carol Reed’s Pinnacle thriller. He manages to respect the legends of Greene and Welles without falling for them, which is a neat trick even before he gets to the wonderful backstory of the film’s “Fourth Man,” zither maestro Anton Karas. –KH

Magnificent Warriors (Film, HK, David Chung, 1987) Whip-wielding biplane pilot (Michelle Yeoh) teams up with a handsome spy (Tung-Shing Yee) and a wandering grifter (Richard Ng) against Japanese occupying forces in Bhutan. Upbeat martial arts war flick built as a star vehicle for Yeoh, who dispenses charm and ass-kicking in roughly equal proportions. Newly available on Blu Ray in a beautifully restored transfer.—RDL

Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (Standup, Netflix, Marcus Raboy, 2020) 25-year-old Tomlinson combines approachability with disdain in a remarkable set on mostly unremarkable topics (weddings, dating, sex, parents). Her tight control over timing and vocalizations (once you notice her accent code-shift you can’t un-notice it) makes me think that as good as she is now, she’ll get to Mulaney or Seinfeld levels in the next decade. –KH


Sisu (Film, Finland, Jalmari Helander, 2023) In occupied Lapland, Nazis, not knowing who they are fucking with, steal gold dug up by a battlescarred prospector (Jorma Tommila.) Ultraviolent, Leone-besotted action flick whose cartoonish reality level does not quite sync with the grimness of its  tone.—RDL

Switchblade Sisters (Film, US, Jack Hill, 1965) Quick-reacting street fighter Maggie (Joanne Nail) earns admittance to the girl gang auxiliary of a high school criminal organization, earning the jealousy of its reigning sixteen-year-old queenpin Lace (Robbie Lee.) Proudly shocking 70s exploitation fare escalates to all-out urban warfare. AKA The Jezebels.—RDL


The Jackal (Film, US, Michael Caton-Jones, 1997) FBI Deputy Director Preston (Sidney Poitier) releases IRA terrorist Declan (Richard Gere) from Federal prison to assist in the manhunt for the Jackal (Bruce Willis), an assassin after a high-value target. The opposite of competence porn, its sole joys are the fun Willis has switching between costumed personae and the flashes of Carter Burwell’s score that survived the hamfisted editing. –KH

Madeleine (Film, UK, David Lean, 1950) In 1857 Glasgow an affair between a respectable young woman (Ann Todd) and a French ne’er do well (Ivan Desny) leads to a murder trial. As part of its critique of constraining class mores, this true crime drama keeps its protagonist opaque and thus difficult to engage with. Lean regarded this as his weakest film.—RDL

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