Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: High School Fight Club, Twisted Apparitions, and the Plot Against Hitler

December 6th, 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.


Bottoms (Film, US, Emma Seligmann, 2023) Anarchy reigns when gay but nonetheless unpopular high school besties (Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri) looking for a pretext to talk to their crushes set up a self defense club. Outrageous teen comedy escalates to a truly bonkers conclusion. I hope someone is writing more comedies around Edebiri‘s brilliant minor key comic timing.—RDL

Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession (Nonfiction, Craig Childs, 2010) Profiling archaeologists, curators, collectors, dealers and plunderers, Childs considers the surprisingly complex question of where artifacts belong, who ought to possess them, and whether they should be left in the ground. A compelling voice gives narrative direction to a topic that in most other hands would be as dusty as a roadside pot sherd.—RDL

Hôtel du Nord (Film, France, Marcel Carné, 1938) Passionate young woman (Renée) checks into a modest hotel to complete a suicide pact with her boyfriend (Jean-Pierre Aumont) but is then drawn into the community of its residents and staff. Lyrical ensemble drama pits romantic fatalism against the joys of living.—RDL

Huesera: the Bone Woman (Film, Mexico, Michelle Garza Cervera, 2023) Pregnant furniture maker with a wild past (Natalia Solián) spirals into despair when she is plagued by apparitions of horrifically twisted female bodies. Unnerving character-driven horror draws on the fear of motherhood.—RDL

The Pez Outlaw (Film, US, Amy and Brian Storkel, 2022) Documentary retells the story of Steve Glew, who in the 90s became a thorn in the side to the American branch of the Pez candy dispenser empire with gray market imports of back-doored product from Eastern European factories. Wry caper elements float over darker hints of the mental health implications of obsessive collector culture.—RDL

The Possessed (Film, Italy, Luigi Bazzoni & Franco Rossellini, 1965) Novelist checking into an off-season hotel discovers that the maid he yearns for died under mysterious circumstances. Dreams and imaginings stand in for clues in this austere, arty mystery.—RDL

Valkyrie (Film, US/Germany, Bryan Singer, 2008) Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) joins a plot against Hitler and takes it over by force of personality. By emphasizing the larger conspiracy around the bomb plot, Singer turns the story into a high-tension political thriller while uncomfortably highlighting the need for ruthlessness even for the best of ends. Terence Stamp and Bill Nighy superbly play Generals Beck and Olbricht as model and foil to Cruise, respectively. —KH

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