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Ken and Robin Consume Media: New Tim Powers, Mads Mikkelsen Revenge, A Kafkaesque Book Tour, and a Norwegian Galoot

January 11th, 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.

Recommended

The Book Tour (Graphic Novel, Andi Watson, 2020) The micro-humiliations of an ill-planned series of personal appearances take a turn for the sinister for a put-upon novelist. Beautiful visual design informed by 50s and 60s British magazine cartooning lends poignancy to a deceptively cozy wrong man story at the intersection of Kafka and Hitchcock. [Disclosure: Beloved Patreon backer Andi kindly provided this review copy.]—RDL

Lupin Part 2 (Television, France, Netflix, George Kay, 2021) After his son is kidnapped, a master thief emulator of Arsene Lupin (Omar Sy) redoubles his operation of vengeance against the corrupt philanthropist (Hervé Pierre) who framed his father. Netflix did this show no favors by snipping its serial season in two, but now that the rest of the story is here it satisfyingly resolves its modernization / homage to the iconic gentleman burglar.—RDL

Repeat Performance (Film, US, Alfred L. Werker, 1947) After shooting her embittered playwright husband (Louis Hayward) a Broadway star (Joan Leslie) falls through a time slip and gets a chance to relive the year leading up to the fatal event. Offbeat blend of film noir and proto-”Twilight Zone” fantasy recently rescued from oblivion by the restoration efforts of the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film Archive.—RDL

Riders of Justice (Film, Denmark, Anders Thomas Jensen, 2021) Emotionally repressed military officer (Mads Mikkelsen) walks the path of vengeance when a freshly fired probability expert (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) gives him evidence that a notorious biker gang arranged the commuter train accident that killed his wife. Jensen turns the revenge actioner inside out for a darkly comic parable of grief, causality, and community between outsiders.—RDL

Stolen Skies (Fiction, Tim Powers, 2022) An off-book ONI attempt to contact aliens brings Agent Castine back into contact with former Secret Service agent Vickery and the ghost ecology of LA. A deft, satisfying conclusion to the trilogy provides an interesting riff on UFOs (very reminiscent of Declare’s djinn). Without the usual Powersian historical backdrop, these books don’t quite escape the artificiality of their setup, but his LA ghost-iverse has become a rich setting in its own right. –KH

Good

Death on the Nile (Fiction, Agatha Christie, 1937) When the heiress Linnet Doyle is shot on her Nile honeymoon, Hercule Poirot just happens to be along for the cruise. Mechanically precise, I’ll grant you, and Christie’s archaeological interests pay off somewhat, but once more we have characters who exist only as tumblers in a lock with one (1) emotional tone apiece. –KH

Lake of the Dead (Film, Norway, Kåre Bergstrøm, 1958) Six friends visit one’s brother at a remote lake cabin, and find him missing and a legendary ghost afoot. Spooky atmosphere and gauzy camera work play well off each other, but only intermittently, as a conventional detective story insists on playing out complete with period Freudianism. The viewpoint character is a galoot, which doesn’t help. —KH

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Filmed Stage Production, Canada, Barry Avrich and Antoni Cimolino, 2020) When he simultaneously sends them seductive letters, married pals (Brigit Wilson, Sophia Walker) conspire to prank the notorious old wastrel Sir John Falstaff (Geraint Wyn-Davies), arousing one of their husbands (Michael Blake) to a jealous plot of his own. Against a 50s Canadian small town setting that neither adds or detracts, Wyn-Davies and Blake show how to do Shakespearean schtick—with tightly controlled big, big energy.—RDL

Okay

Kadaicha (Film, Australia, James Bogle, 1988) Teens living on a street built on an Aboriginal burial ground see a kadaicha magician in their dreams, get cursed stones, and die! Straight-to-video Ozploitation mashes up Poltergeist and Nightmare on Elm Street, stepping on the product throughout. The second kill (a jumping spider POV) and some of the surrealism catch the eye, but the flat acting and general slack don’t keep it. –KH

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