Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: May December, French UFOs, Yokai, and Modern Yoga’s Eliptony Layer

March 5th, 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.


100 Monsters (Film, Japan, Kimiyoshi Yasuda, 1968) Murderous landlord scoffs at the need to perform a protective rite after a night of spooky storytelling, inviting the righteous vengeance of yokai spirits. A straight-laced start to the Yokai Monsters trilogy mostly focused on human wrongdoing. The kid in you may complain that it takes too long for the creatures to show up.—RDL

May December (Film, US, Todd Haynes, 2023) TV actress Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) arrives in Savannah to research her upcoming role as Gracie (Julianne Moore), who at 36 seduced a 13-year-old and remains married to him (Charles Melton) 20 years later. If Haynes’ influences were Ridley Scott and John McTiernan instead of Douglas Sirk and Joe Losey, he could have called this movie Alien vs Predator, and watching Portman as a soulless chameleon work on (and against) Moore’s damaged sociopath is voyeuristic delight. Haynes shoots the film alternatingly flat and fuzzy, like a somewhat jazzed-up true-crime drama, while playing with a wildly melodramatic score almost from the first beat.—KH

UFOs Season 1 (Television, France, Clémence Dargent & Martin Douaire, 2021) After his rocket project goes explosively awry, an uptight engineer for France’s aerospace agency is ordered to take over and shut down the woebegone department that logs UFO sightings. Students of eliptony will knowingly nod at this investigative dramedy’s familiarity with deep saucer-hunting lore.—RDL


An Accidental Studio (Film, UK, Bill Jones & Kim Leggatt & Ben Timlett, 2019) Documentary traces the trajectory of independent studio Handmade Films, started by George Harrison to rescue Monty Python’s Life of Brian and later responsible for The Long Good Friday, Withnail and I, and Nuns on the Run. Tells the cyclically repeating story of a business started by artists to avoid creative meddling from the suits, only to fall prey to it, here in the form of Harrison’s money man Denis O’Brien.—RDL

Conspirituality: How New Age Conspiracy Theories Became a Public Health Threat (Nonfiction, Derek Beres, Matthew Remski and Julian Walker, 2023) Apostate veterans of the wellness movement examine the predispositions, including a full smorgasbord of full-bore eliptonic and occult beliefs, that left the yoga scene ripe for colonization by anti-vaxxers and QAnon. Based on the eponymous podcast and written in an unabashedly polemical mode.—RDL

Past Lives (Film, US, Celine Song, 2023) Married playwright (Greta Lee) reunites with the middle school crush (Teo Yoo) she left behind when her parents emigrated from Korea. Muted drama of nice people being sensible could use a sharp note or two to bring contrast to all the wistful beauty.—RDL

Three Miles Down (Fiction, Harry Turtledove, 2022) In 1974, a young oceanologist/budding sf writer gets recruited to the secret project behind the secret Project AZORIAN—an alien spacecraft on the Pacific ocean floor actually sank the Soviet sub K-129, and the CIA is bringing it up. Contrary to the subtitle, this isn’t a “novel of first contact” but a novel of the precursor to first contact. Turtledove keeps it short and single-viewpoint, but doesn’t actually follow through on the great idea at the core.—KH


The Marvels (Film, US, Nia Dacosta, 2023) Bound by an entanglement that causes them to body switch, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) battle a Kree leader (Zawe Ashton) whose scheme to revive her homeworld endangers the fabric of the universe. The first acts of sequels are harder to set up than originals. It’s therefore unsurprising that, for all of the likeability of its actors and characters and tentacle cats, a sequel to not one but three different previous works wobbles in establishing a clear, basic question to carry us through the narrative.—RDL

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