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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Microbes, Quantum Ghosts and Harry Dean Stanton

May 15th, 2018 | 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.

Recommended

Future Echoes (Play, Paul Foster, 2018) Allie’s (Gabrielle Lott-Rogers) dinner party reunion gets interrupted by mysterious death-fetches — are they perhaps connected to missing roommate Eamon’s experiment at the super collider? Mostly successful blending of ghost story and quantum physics nightmare slowly pivots into a truly horrific fable of stalking. Lott-Rogers’ performance holds the play together over a few bumpy transitions from spookshow to science fiction. [Disclaimer: Paul Foster and I are both part of WildClaw Theatre, and I have beaten him at so many board games that we must be friends by now.]  Playing through May 27 at the Den Theater in Chicago. –KH

Lucky (Film, US, John Carroll Lynch) Lovably irascible old man (Harry Dean Stanton) living in a small Arizona town arouses the concern in his friends after a fall confronts him with his mortality. Near plotless character piece, with a lived-in feel reminiscent of Jarmusch and The Straight Story (complete with David Lynch acting turn), gives the sublime gift of a final showcase for the soulful, never obtrusive acting art of Harry Dean Stanton.—RDL

Welcome to the Microbiome: Getting to Know the Trillions of Bacteria and Other Microbes In, On, and Around You (Nonfiction, Rob DeSalle and Susan L. Perkins, 2015) Introductory survey of the body’s relationship with its host of microbial residents, from their essential role in digestion to the possible role they play in obesity, depression and autism. Aimed at the novice but quite technical for a pop science book. The main takeaway is how young a field the study of the microbiome is, and how little we know about it, or bacteria in general.—RDL

Good

Super Fly (Film, US, Gordon Parks Jr., 1972) Outwardly dominant but inwardly terrified NYC coke dealer tries to arrange a single deal large enough to get him out of the business. Gritty locations lend authenticity to this camp-free, rough-hewn classic of the blaxploitation cycle. Soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield features most of his best songs.—RDL

Not Recommended

Pecoross’ Mother and Her Days (Film, Japan, Azuma Morisaki, 2013) Flailing ad salesman and part-time cartoonist struggles to keep up with his mother’s accelerating dementia. Shambling slice-of-life comedy set in the present day, intercut with melodramatic flashbacks, culminating in unbearable mawkishness. Based on an autobiographical manga.—RDL

A Woman’s Secret (Film, US, Nicholas Ray, 1949) Pianist (Melvyn Douglas) tries to exonerate a steely ex-singer (Maureen O’Hara) who has confessed to shooting her reluctant protege (Gloria Grahame.) Cast and director work hard to breathe life into a hash of a script that meanders in chronology, genre and tone. Made just a year before Ray’s masterpiece In a Lonely Place, also with then-wife Grahame.—RDL

2 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Microbes, Quantum Ghosts and Harry Dean Stanton”

  1. John Graham says:

    Mr. Hite I wonder if you might find a moment to suggest a primer for pre-soviet Russian intelligence. A history or overview of origins and/or influences, any era.
    Thanks

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