Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Hatfields vs McCoys, Taylor Tomlinson vs Expectations, and Annette Bening vs Box Jellyfish

March 12th, 2024 | 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.


Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance (Nonfiction, Lisa Alther, 2012) With a novelist’s eye for structure, Alther unravels the post-Civil War string of reprisal killings between two sprawling families on the Kentucky-West Virginia border that left sixty dead and bequeathed a curiously corny, heavily sanitized legend to later pop culture. Impressively chronicles a story in which every significant incident occurs in a minimum of two contradictory versions, then circles back for context and analysis.—RDL

Gary Gulman: Born on Third Base (Stand-up, HBO Max, James Webb, 2023) Gulman continues to evolve his particular blend of the shaggy-dog joke and the autobiographical monologue (or as he calls it, “mommy look at me”) with ever-increasing precision, tightness, and skilled delivery. Any stand-up who does both a Pop-Tart joke and a Seinfeld takedown had better bring their A game, and Gulman does just that.—KH

Sopyonje (Film, South Korea, Im-kwon Taek, 1993) Misanthropic itinerant singer of the dying pansori tradition (Kim Myung-gon) goes to appalling lengths to mold his adopted daughter (Jung-hae Oh) into his artistic successor. Gorgeously mounted drama of suffering for art.—RDL

The Murder Man (Film, US, Tim Whelan, 1935) Binge-drinking crime reporter (Spencer Tracy) scoops the competition on the slaying of a crooked investment broker. Fast-talking crime drama takes its hero in an atypical direction.—RDL

Taylor Tomlinson: Have it All (Stand-up, Netflix, Kristian Mercado, 2023) It’s tough to brag and be funny, but Tomlinson’s wild swagger carries her through a set centering on how far she’s come since her last specials. Once more, her mastery of vocal code switching and physical acting take already great material and make it excellent.—KH


Knife + Heart (Film, France, Yann Gonzales, 2018) Heartbroken gay porn auteur (Kate Moran) becomes an unlikely investigator when police show little interest in the masked killer stalking her actors. Like many latter-day giallo homages, this references the subgenre’s style and motifs but sets aside the horror-thrilling pacing, in this case for a surreal indie drama of 70s queer life that owes more to Cocteau than to Argento or Bava.—RDL

Nyad (Film, US, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin, 2023) At age 62, long distance swimmer Diana Nyad (Annette Bening) appoints best pal Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster) as her coach in a bid to complete the Cuba-Florida marathon that beat her when she was 28. Acting-driven sports film convincingly portrays marathon swimming as the grotesque self-mortification of a trauma-forged achiever, bringing more than a little ambivalence to its inspirational triumph beats. —RDL

Schmigadoon Season 2 (Television, Apple+, Cinco Paul, 2023)  Disenchanted with life in the real world, Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) attempt to revisit the magic of Schmigadoon, only to find themselves in the nihilistic Schmicago, where the tropes of 60s and 70s musicals hold sway. Though the Broadway song parodies are even sharper this time around, the second season struggles to keep the protagonists at the heart of the narrative, which makes more of a difference than you might think.—RDL

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