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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Heaven, Asgard and Times Square

November 14th, 2017 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Counter-Attack (Film, US, Zoltan Korda, 1945) Trapped behind enemy lines in the basement of a collapsed factory, a doughty Soviet paratrooper (Paul Muni) and flinty spy (Marguerite Chapman) struggle to keep a group of German prisoners at bay. Wartime suspenser powered by tense scripting and a career-best performance from Muni. Even if it weren’t any good it would be worth a watch for its historical value as a Hollywood propaganda from the brief sliver of time when glorifying the Red Army made total sense.—RDL

The Deuce Season 1 (Television, HBO, David Simon, 2017) As a bar manager (James Franco) goes into business with an affable mobster, streetwalker Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) eyes the nascent XXX scene of early 70s New York as a way out and up. As he did to great effect in “The Wire”, Simon assembles a socioeconomic collage showing how a black market industry ties people together and bends them out of shape.—RDL

The Good Place Season 1 (Television, NBC, Michael Schur, 2016-2017) Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies and awakens in “The Good Place,” a sort of gated-community heaven run by its Architect (Ted Danson), even though she was actually pretty bad. You have to kind of love a comedy combining Plato and The Prisoner, or at least I do, especially given its commitment to narrative momentum via constant premise threat. –KH

Tattooed Life (Film, Japan, Seijun Suzuki, 1965) In 1926, a betrayed yakuza killer flees with his mooncalf aesthete brother to a remote mining community, only to find that trouble isn’t done with them yet. Suzuki, mostly known for subversive and/or experimental low-budget crime pics, here gets the resources to weave a sweeping traditional narrative, capped with a fine ballet of katanas and revolvers.—RDL

Thor: Ragnarok (Film, US, Taika Waititi, 2017) After Odin dies and his heretofore unknown death goddess sister shows up to devastate Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds that his journey back circuits through a gladiator world and a visit with a big green co-worker. Waititi finds not only the previously missing tone for a Thor movie (dry, behind-the-beat Kiwi comedy) but pulls off the impressive trick of keeping momentum rolling in a typically overstuffed latter-day Marvel flick.—RDL

Good

Big Bang (Film, South Korea, Park Jung-Woo, 2007) After losing his wife and his job on the same day, a priggish stickler teams with a small time crook to stage a revenge rampage. Buddy actioner increases the melodrama dosage as it accelerates.—RDL

The Posterist (Film, Hong Kong, Hui See-wai, 2016) Documentary celebration of Yuen Tai-yung, illustrator and designer of the most iconic movie posters of HK cinema’s 70s-90s golden age. On the production level this feels like an extended DVD extra, but is indispensable as film history and catnip to illustrators and illustration fans. Looking at Yuen’s work you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as the work of at least three entirely different artists, as if Jack Davis, Drew Struzan and John Alvin were the same person.—RDL

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