Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Mission Impossible, Uncanny Wartime Paris, and A Movie About, Uh, Dungeons and [Checks Notes] Dragons

July 18th, 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 Pinnacle

Paris Noir: The Secret History of a City (Fiction and/or Nonfiction, Jacques Yonnet, 1954) Hiding from the Gestapo among  down and outers of the 5th arrondissement, a Resistance operative with an antiquarian bent learns their often uncanny secrets. Enchanting concoction of wartime memoir, demimonde anthropology, psychogeography, and weird horror. The author’s preferred title, Rue des Maléfices (Witchcraft Street) better conveys its spirit .—RDL


AKA (Film, France, Morgan S. Dalibert, 2023) Lethally competent DGSE operative (Alban Lenoir) returns to France to infiltrate the household of a gangster linked to a terror suspect (Kevin Layne.) Centers realistically drawn characters in its ambitious mix of hard action, political thriller, and the undercover cop crime drama.—RDL

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Film, US, John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein, 2023) Bard master planner (Chris Pine) and his barbarian comrade (Michelle Rodriguez) assemble a band of adventurers to reclaim his daughter from their double-crossing former partner (Hugh Grant.) In addition to solid fight choreography, smart obstacle building and engaging performances, this serves as an object lesson in executing a light, breezy tone in a geek-forward IP adaptation. There are plenty of jokes, but they’re never telling you that the source material is fundamentally stupid and unworthy of the filmmakers’ attention.—RDL

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (Film, US, Christopher McQuarrie, 2023) Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and skilled thief Grace (Hayley Atwell) must evade every nation’s secret agents plus the enigmatic Gabriel (Esai Morales) to obtain the key to a rogue AI called The Entity. Frontloading the exposition changes the dynamic of this film from the familiar beats of the franchise, as it tries to wryly sum up and cap itself. Not the strongest in the series, but a worthy beginning of the end. And yes the motorcycle jump is amazing. —KH

Open Your Eyes (Film, Spain, Alejandro Amenabar, 1997) After a jilted lover nearly kills him in a car accident, a formerly handsome, now disfigured hotel heir (Eduardo Noriega) bitterly pursues his dream girl (Penelope Cruz) and experiences a series of reality breaks. Moody existential mystery subsequently remade as Vanilla Sky, also with Cruz.—RDL


Kagero-za (Film, Japan, Seijun Suzuki, 1981) A playwright (Yûsaku Matsuda) succumbs to a surreal entanglement with various women in the orbit of a gun-toting rich eccentric (Katsuo Nakamura.) Striking images dominate cinema’s most accurate evocation of what it feels like to keep falling back into the same frustrating dream.—RDL

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