Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Only Murders in the Building, The Fall of the House of Usher, and Every Miss Marple Novel

November 7th, 2023 | Robin


Common Wealth (Film, Spain, Álex de la Iglesia, 2000) Stifled realtor (Carmen Maura) tries to get a hoard of cash found in the apartment of a dead shut-in past the rapacious neighbors who have been waiting for years to steal it. Suspenseful black comedy takes a more gradual trip to chaos town than your typical Iglesia outing.—RDL

Every Miss Marple Novel (Fiction, Agatha Christie, 1930-1976) Busybody spinster Jane Marple combines thorough (and pessimistic) knowledge of human nature with a fine logical mind to solve a dozen murders in Christie’s best series by far. Although a few of the early novels suffer from Christie’s fondness for misdirection and minutiae, her decision to hinge Marple’s successes on human nature meant that Dame Agatha had to actually depict human characters in these. The later Marples (especially A Caribbean Mystery and its sequel Nemesis) show real ingenuity in approach, as well. —KH

Hidden Blade (Film, China, Er Cheng, 2023)  Enigmatic Secret Service head for the wartime Chinese puppet government under Japanese occupation (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) plays a double game. Fragmented, recursive historical spy drama staged with tripwire stillness..—RDL

Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make Believe (Film, Canada, Robert McCallum, 2023) Retrospective arts documentary celebrates the legacy of childrens’ TV host Ernie Coombs, aka the tirelessly affirming and gentle master of crafts and costumes, Mr. Dressup. Probably means nothing to you if you aren’t of the several generations of Canadians who grew up on his show, but if you did, get ready for crashing waves of deep nostalgia. And of course some absolutely devastating emotional material at the end.—RDL

Only Murders in the Building Season 3 (Television, US, Hulu/Disney+, Steve Martin & John Hoffman, 2023) When the star (Paul Rudd) of Oliver’s (Martin Short) shot at Broadway redemption is murdered, Mabel (Selena Gomez) starts an investigation, leaving Charles (Steve Martin) to choose between his role in the play and his duties as true crime podcaster. A shift to backstage mystery not only affords the opportunity to bring Meryl Streep in for an extended guest role, but also provides a fresh setting for the show’s exploration of loneliness and comradeship.—RDL

Not Recommended

The Fall of the House of Usher (Television, US, Netflix, Mike Flanagan, 2023) Opioid magnate Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) confesses at length to the strange series of labyrinthine events that led to the deaths of his entire family. The heavily telegraphed wedging together of Poe’s most famous stories might work in a campy tongue-in-cheek way, but Flanagan is deadly serious and  utterly loathes his ensemble of protagonists.—RDL

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