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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Killers on the Lam, the Fall of European Aristocracy, and a Temperamental Mentalist

February 1st, 2022 | 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.

Ken is on assignment.

Recommended

Evenings for Sale (Film, US, Stuart Walker, 1932) Financially ruined Count (Herbert Marshall) becomes a taxi dancer, to the dismay of his new nouveau riche inamorata (Sari Maritza) and the delight of a naive American widow (Mary Boland.) Romantic comedy-drama marks the postwar wreckage of the European aristocracy with melancholy and a heartening generosity toward its characters.—RDL

The Fable (Film, Japan, Kan Eguchi, 2019) After racking up a spectacular body count in a restaurant hit, a young man who knows only assassination (Jun’ichi Okada) agrees to lay low in Osaka for a year, not knowing that his mentor plans to murder him if he kills anyone during his stay.  Cult cinema actioner offers an offbeat blend of comedy styles, whipsawing from deadpan to over-the-top and back. Broadpan?—RDL

The Great Buck Howard (Film, US, Sean McGinly, 2008) Law school dropout (Colin Hanks) learns the byways of small-time showbiz as road manager to a temperamental mentalist (John Malkovich) on fame’s downward slide. Deceptively slight indie comfort flick scores by declining to hype the stakes of its memoiristic narrative.—RDL

Night in Paradise (Film, South Korea, Park Hoon-jung, 2021) On the lam after retaliating for the mob hit that killed his terminally ill sister and her daughter, a determined young gangster establishes a prickly bond with his temporary host’s hostile, terminally ill, gun-toting daughter. Serene, controlled character drama with bursts of surprising, brutal violence.—RDL

Good

A Pistol For Ringo (Film, Italy/Spain, Duccio Tessari, 1966) Cheerfully mercenary gunslinger (Giuliano Gemma) agrees to infiltrate a bandit gang trapped with hostages at the ranch of a rich sophisticate (Antonio Casas) and his judgmental daughter (Lorella deLuca.) Spaghetti Western hostage drama takes the anti-heroism of the Man With No Name one cynical step further.—RDL

Not Recommended

Ryan’s Daughter (Film, UK/US, David Lean, 1970) Finding her new schoolteacher husband (Robert Mitchum) a cold fish, a passionate young woman stuck in a desolate coastal Irish village (Sarah Miles) strikes up an affair with the war-damaged British officer (Christopher Jones) in charge of its occupying detachment. Many notorious bombs warrant reappraisal, but critics were right the first time with this thick slab of pseudo-Irish ham. Misconceived on every level, from casting to performance, from scale to viewpoint. But if you’re doing a Lean retrospective, or are a student of things going wrong in narrative, watching it is a price you have to pay.—RDL

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