Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Murder Ghost, Train Zombies, Captain Kirk

July 26th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Kill, Baby, Kill! (Film, Italy, Mario Bava, 1966) Possibly Bava’s purest gothic presents the failure of male Enlightenment reason in the person of coroner Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) when confronted with the supernatural and eternal feminine: a sorceress (Fabienne Dali), a widowed crone of a baroness (Gianna Vivaldi), a beautiful orphan (Erika Blanc), and a murderous little girl ghost in white. Bava does things with the camera and the mise-en-scene that even he couldn’t repeat, creating a compelling dream of a ghost story with color, sound, shadow, and movement. –KH

Sicario (Film, US, Denis Villeneuve, 2015) FBI kidnap expert (Emily Blunt) joins an interagency drug trafficking task force, only to discover that she’s being used by the shadowy CIA operative (Josh Brolin) and asset (Benicio del Toro) running the show. Aided enormously by Roger Deakins’ eerily gorgeous cinematography, Villeneuve portrays the covert cartel drug war as an alien landscape.–RDL


Deutschland 83 (TV, Germany, Sundance/RTL, Anna Winger, 2015) Eight episodes follow East German soldier Martin (Jonas Nay) as he is recruited in 1983 by East German intelligence, hastily trained in tradecraft, and inserted into a NATO base as aide-de-camp to West German General Edel (Ulrich Noethen). The series unfolds with period punctilio as the East becomes ever more convinced of an upcoming American nuclear first strike, and as Martin becomes ever more deeply enmeshed in Edel’s dysfunctional family life. Strong Cold War spy narrative carries and colors the soapy side notes, resulting in riveting, slippery drama. –KH

Diary of a Teenage Girl (Film, US, Marielle Heller, 2015) As part of her headlong leap into sexual experience, a 15 year old aspiring comix artist pursues an affair with her mother’s handsome but feckless boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard.) Brilliant performance by lead Bel Powley anchors this keenly honest indie drama, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s semi-autobiographical mixed media book. Refreshingly non-punitive for a film about challenging adolescent sexuality.–RDL

Train to Busan (Film, South Korea, Yeon Sang-Ho, 2016) Distant, self-involved dad Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) reluctantly accompanies his young daughter (Kim Su-an) on the titular train to his ex-wife’s house … on the day the zombie apocalypse breaks out in Korea. The zombies are fast (just a hint of camera stutter) and ferocious, their wave attacks putting the similar but too-bombastic zombie piles of World War Z to shame. Its post-Romero message of altruism (and its fully Romero message of class struggle) come on a little thick, but this is everything you want from a zombie movie and everything you want from a train movie. –KH

Star Trek Beyond (Film, US, Justin Lin, 2016) A routine rescue mission for the Enterprise turns into a confrontation with a vampiric villain fielding a fleet of hive ships. Though the space combat action could be clearer, overall this plays as a pretty solid meeting point between a TOS episode and a contemporary tentpole actioner.–RDL


Von Ryan’s Express (Film, US, Mark Robson, 1965) New-fledged USAAC Colonel Ryan (Frank Sinatra) finds himself ranking officer in an Italian POW camp, at odds with British elite professional soldier Major Fincham (Trevor Howard). The film becomes something rather special when the men leave the camp for a German prisoner train headed for Austria, but the Jerry Goldsmith score tries too hard to echo Elmer Bernstein’s Great Escape and its prominence undermines the pacing. –KH

Not Recommended

Cold War II (Film, HK, Lok Man Leung & Kim-Ching Luk, 2016) Rock-ribbed police commissioner (Aaron Kwok) clashes with a wily legislator (Chow Yun-Fat) as criminals conspire to replace him with his disgraced predecessor (Tony Leung Kar Fai.) With its overdone scoring and a great cast forced into a portentous acting style, this is more interesting as a political document, indicating what you can and can’t say about government in Hong Kong, than as a movie.–RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Murder Ghost, Train Zombies, Captain Kirk”

  1. Aaron says:

    I think John Chu’s brain processes video at a different pace than the rest of us (like how baseball players see much sharper than normal people). I just saw Now You See Me 2 and it was also filled with extremely fast visuals.

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