Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: John Mulaney, The Warner Brothers, and Armageddon

May 2nd, 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 Brothers Warner (Film, US, Cass Warner, 2007) Documentary profiles the four Polish American Jewish siblings who founded and ran the Warner Brothers movie studio. The filmmaker convincingly argues that the grit and social consciousness that distinguished the studio’s classic output came not from its production head, credit-hogging vulgarian Jack L. Warner, but her grandfather, straight-arrow, avuncular company president Harry.—RDL

Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon (Nonfiction, Eric H. Cline, 2020) During the interwar period, a changing team of bickering archaeologists dispatched by Chicago’s Oriental Institute excavates, and occasionally mutilates, the multi-city site of Megiddo in Palestine. Copious documentation allows the author, who himself has worked the site, to intersperse archaeological discoveries with a case study of seething personal rivalries.—RDL

Gangubai Kathiawadi (Film, India, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 2022) Woman sold into a brothel (Alia Bhatt) rises to madam, then local politician, and finally ahead-of-her-time advocate for sex workers’ rights. Bhatt’s movie star presence anchors the proceedings as they shift from underworld epic to inspirational crowdpleaser.—RDL

Hunger (Film, Thailand, Sitisiri Mongkolsiri, 2023) Young cook (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) who works at her family noodle restaurant comes down with a case of ambition when she is recruited to work for a harshly demanding superstar chef (Nopachai Chaiyanam.) Visually striking workplace drama Infuses the humble striver subgenre with an atypical class consciousness.—RDL

John Mulaney: Baby J (Stand-up, Netflix, Alex Timbers, 2023) Mulaney breaks down his addiction, intervention, and rehab experience in a not-always-successful blending of his perfected straight standup and the confessional standup subgenre – I suspect doing a routine while sober may be throwing off his reflexes somewhat as well. However, there’s lots of Mulaney-style diamonds in here, and I was reduced to helpless laughter by his re-read of a very coked-up interview with GQ he gave two days before going to rehab. Don’t count Baby J out, in other words. –KH


The Gentlemen (Film, US, Guy Ritchie, 2020) Weaselly journo Fletcher (Hugh Grant) attempts to blackmail consigliere Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) with the truth about his boss, weed kingpin Mickey (Matthew McConaughey). Hugh Grant gloriously chews scenery all around the wooden Hunnam, but the problem with a movie told almost entirely in expository narration is a certain remove that weakens seemingly strong individual bits. A pleasant haze of reminiscence for old-school Ritchie fans, but not primo. –KH

In Search of Tomorrow (Film, US, David A. Weiner, 2022) Five-hour documentary on the SF films of the 1980s generally makes do with lightweight talking heads (though John Carpenter, Joe Dante, and Ivan Reitman bring it) and generous highlights as it goes year by year through the pinnacle decade of the art form, with the occasional thematic blurt. Mostly enjoyable in a “hey it’s that thing I recognize” way for me, but probably a fine primer for those unfortunate enough to have been born after the Reagan Administration. –KH

Not Recommended

Deep Fear (Film, France, Grégory Beghin, 2022) Recent graduates plunge into horror after joining their affable dealer on an unauthorized urban exploration of the Paris catacombs. You know I wanted this to be good, but unfortunately they couldn’t set it in the iconic, funerary part of the catacombs, and the horrors the heroes encounter are perfunctorily imagined.—RDL

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