Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: John Wick 4, 70s AI Horror, and a Classic Auteur Collision

April 11th, 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.


Colossus: The Forbin Project (Film, US, Joseph Sargent, 1970) Dr. Charles Forbin (Eric Braeden) has just designed Colossus, a supercomputer wired into the American nuclear weapons grid, but he built it too well. Surprisingly riveting, fast-paced computer-paranoia thriller with touches of Faust and Frankenstein almost seems relevant again in these days of AI panic and superpower confrontation. –KH

Come and Get It (Film, US, Howard Hawks & William Wyler, 1936) Bullish lumberjack (Edward Arnold) sets aside the woman he loves (Frances Farmer) to further his ambitions of logging wealth, later succumbing to romantic obsession for her identical daughter with his old-time best friend (Walter Brennan.) With producer Samuel Goldwyn off sick, Hawks transformed Edna Ferber’s sententious novel into one of his trademark tales of camaraderie on society’s rough hewn fringes. When he recovered, Goldwyn fired him and forced Wyler to restore as much of Ferber’s multi-generational saga as he could. Yet the results are surprisingly alive, proving that troubled shoots only lead to terrible results ninety-nine times out of a hundred.—RDL

Hotel Mumbai (Film, Australia, Anthony Maras, 2018) When gunmen invade a luxury hotel as part of the coordinated 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, staff and guests, including an intrepid cook (Dev Patel) and an entitled newlywed (Armie Hammer), struggle to survive. Tense docudrama thriller uses disaster movie script structure as foundation for Paul Greengrass-style ripped from the headlines procedural.—RDL


Every Anty Boisjoly Mystery (So Far) (Fiction, P.J. Fitzsimmons, 2020-2022) 1920s London clubman and layabout Anty Boisjoly solves impossible crimes, generally to clear the good name of a friend, aunt, or elephant. Fitzsimmons aims for “Bertie Wooster as Peter Wimsey” and gets about two-thirds of the way there, mostly. The mysteries are generally neatly done in their own right, and Boisjoly’s great blessing as narrator and detective is less his banter and piffle than his reliable good nature, which makes for pleasant reading. –KH

If These Walls Could Sing (Film, US/UK, Mary McCartney, 2022) Documentarian profiles Abbey Road studios, which she has known since she was an infant. For her dad, Sir Paul, the magic lay in the equipment; for John Williams, the acoustics; for everyone else, the mystique established by the Beatles.—RDL

John Wick: Chapter 4 (Film, US, Chad Stahelski, 2023) Granted dictatorial power to eliminate John Wick (Keanu Reeves), the snotty Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) conscripts his only equal, Caine (Donny Yen). Fully descended (or ascended) into animated cartoon territory thanks not least to ridiculous bulletproof suits and an Arc de Triomphe shootout featuring over-CGI’d (and apparently massless) cars, this final entry in the franchise lives on half the set-pieces, an excellent turn as “the Hunter” by Shamier Anderson, and a blessedly clear end goal at long last. Dan Laustsen’s cinematography repeatedly exceeds itself as well. Reeves grinds himself down to play a John Wick stripped of almost all humanity, but there’s no point in psychological realism in a film with no other kind on display. –KH

Ship of Monsters (Film, Mexico, Rogelio A. González, 1960) Having captured monstrous specimens from elsewhere in the galaxy for the man-starved planet Venus, a duo of immodestly clad astronauts (Ana Bertha Lepe, Lorena Velázquez) land their rocketship in Chihuahua and set their sights on a fibbing vaquero (Eulalio González.) Engagingly nutty musical comedy horror SF whose titular monsters look like rotting, cancerous rejects from the Krofft brothers workshop.—RDL


Enys Men (Film, UK, Mark Jenkin, 2023) A volunteer (Mary Woodvine) alone on a rocky Cornish island in 1973 comes progressively unglued. There’s so much to like in this film, from the 16mm film it’s shot on, to the 1973-style direction, to the thoroughly unnerving sound design juxtaposed with beautiful nature photography, that it’s a shame it doesn’t cohere. I don’t mind the refusal to explain, but inexplicable should not be a synonym for meaningless. –KH

The Road to Singapore (Film, US, Alfred E. Green, 1931) In colonial Singapore, a cad with a heart of gold (William Powell) pursues the passionate neglected wife (Doris Kenyon) of a cloddish doctor (Louis Calhern.) Sweaty worldliness pervades a Pre-Code melodrama, based on a stage play, that fades a bit in its resolution. Not to be confused with the later Hope and Crosby vehicle Road to Singapore.—RDL

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