Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Hit Man, The Fall Guy, Maps of Empire and Jorge Luis Borges, Investigator

June 11th, 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.


Atlas of Empires: The World’s Great Powers from Ancient Times to Today (Nonfiction, Peter Davidson, 2018) In 60 main maps and 240 pages of text, Davidson describes empires from Sargon of Akkad to the EU. While the maps are almost uniformly excellent (I noticed one color-separation issue on the 17th-century imperialism map) the text is the real draw, as incisive and clear as Colin McEvedy at his best. An ideal quick first summary of imperialisms ancient and postmodern, and usefully informative to almost anyone.—KH

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans (Fiction, Luis Fernando Verissimo, 2000) Amateur Poe scholar and Borges fan Vogelstein gets the opportunity to follow his dreams when the Israfel Society holds its 1985 meeting in Buenos Aires. When another Poe scholar turns up murdered, Vogelstein and Borges investigate a trail that oh yes leads through Lovecraft, John Dee, and at least two orangutans. A short, sharp delight, like Umberto Eco espresso.—KH

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America (Nonfiction, Michael Ruhlman, 2017) Embedding himself in the innovative mid-tier Cleveland area Heinen’s chain, the author examines the many facets of America’s constantly evolving retail food industry. Among the many takeaways from this absorbingly rendered account is the extent to which customer demands for health and sustainability have already transformed the business Consumed in audiobook format.—RDL

A Hidden Life (Film, US, Terrence Malick, 2019) When he is conscripted into the German army,  a devout farmer from a remote Austrian village (August Diehl) supported by his steadfast wife (Valerie Pachner), forbears the consequences of refusing to sign the required loyalty oath to Hitler. Faith and idyllic natural beauty contrast with human moral horror in the master director’s signature style.—RDL

Hit Man (Film, US, Richard Linklater, 2024) Psych professor Gary (Glen Powell) meets abused wife Madison (Adria Arjona) while undercover for the New Orleans PD pretending to be a hit man named Ron. This film about the human capacity to change likewise changes from comedy to rom-com to thriller to the edge of noir, with Powell following along in a showcase of acting range.—KH

Loot Season 2 (Television, US, Apple+, Alan Yang & Matt Hubbard, 2024) Resisting her narcissistic ex’s efforts to win her back, Molly (Maya Rudolph) expands her philanthropic empire and struggles with her feelings for button-downed employee Arthur (Nat Faxon.) Smart, character-driven sitcom cruises comfortably into its sophomore season, boosted by the natural chops of supporting players Ron Funches and Joel Kim Booster.—RDL


Christ Stopped at Eboli (Television, Italy, Francesco Rosi, 1979) In 1933, painter Carlo Levi is banished for his anti-fascist writings to internal exile in a remote southern village. In this adaptation of a seminal memoir, Rosi’s prestige-pic penchant for the picturesque and sentimental co-exists uneasily with the text’s horror at the extreme deprivation it documents.—RDL

The Fall Guy (Film, US, David Leitch, 2024) Mystery and peril assist romantic reconciliation when a soulful stuntman (Ryan Gosling) ends his retirement to join the directing debut of the ex (Emily Blunt) he ghosted after suffering an on-set injury. Breezy action romcom has to clear a pacing hurdle caused by the traffic jam of plot elements it needs to establish before it can really get rolling.—RDL

Fast Charlie (Film, US, Philip Noyce, 2023) When rising New Orleans boss Beggar (Gbenga Akinnagbe) wipes out the crew of old-school Biloxi boss Stan (James Caan in his final role), hitman Charlie (Pierce Brosnan doing the most insane Mississippi accent in cinema history) seeks revenge and leverage with the help of Marcie (Morena Baccarin), the widow of his most recent target. Noyce keeps things driving along in whipcrack fashion (it’s only 90 minutes!), and Brosnan is always a delight, but you’ve already seen this movie before, even if this time you probably like it better.—KH

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