Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Parlett’s History of Board Games, Boston Strangler, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

April 4th, 2023 | Robin


All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Film, US, Laura Poitras, 2022) Documentary interweaves a biographical profile of groundbreaking photographer and chronicler of the 70s/80s NYC gay underground scene with a procedural study of her recent activist campaign to strip the Oxy-peddling Sackler family of its philanthropic associations in the museum world. Poitras ably overcomes the challenge of having too much essential material to assemble into one nonfictional narrative.—RDL

Boston Strangler (Film, US, Matt Ruskin, 2023) Driven reporter Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) teams with established pro Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) to break the story of the Boston Strangler serial killings and the incompetence of the local police investigation. Feminist true crime docudrama stands in the shadow of Zodiac but earns a bump to Recommended status for the script’s handling of the case’s tangle of uncertain resolutions.—RDL

Fahrenheit 451 (Film, UK, Francois Truffaut, 1966) In a totalitarian future where drug-dulled Americans refer to their widescreen televisions as family, a diffident member of the book-burning squad (Oskar Werner), egged on by a dissident neighbor (Julie Christie) who looks a lot like his conformist wife (Julie Christie), nurtures a secret yen for reading. The unemphatic mix of satire and political horror in this adaptation of the classic Ray Bradbury novel aroused confusion in its day but plays as absolutely contemporary now.—RDL

The Forgery of Venus (Fiction, Michael Gruber, 2008) After taking part in a study of the drug salvinorin, a failing artist hallucinates himself into the life of Velasquez and agrees to forge a previously unknown companion to the master’s Rokeby Venus. Art world literary thriller with touches of reality horror lends credence to its more fanciful plot developments with authentic portrayals of character and painting technique.—RDL

Parlett’s History of Board Games (Nonfiction, David Parlett, 2018) A partial revision of his 1999 Oxford History of Board Games, Parlett manages to squeeze a startling amount of information into a relatively small (375 pages) book. Even in 1999, the book had just missed the rise of Eurogames, and a brief overview of “Today’s Games” in this volume still takes us barely into the 1980s. However, for virtually everything before that, Parlett makes a superb first recourse. –KH


Flashpoint (Comics, DC, Geoff Johns & Andy Kubert, 2012) Barry Allen awakens to find himself powerless in a world without Superman where Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s apocalyptic war threatens global survival. Solid by-the-numbers comic suffers from its origin as the frame story for a bloated DC crossover event; its non-Flash beats occasionally feel thin and somewhat unearned. The basis for the upcoming Flash movie. –KH

Flight Command (Film, US, Frank Borzage, 1940) Achievement-chasing newbie (Robert Taylor) joins the Navy Hellcats squadron, ruffling his fellow flyers when he gets too close to the commander’s wife (Ruth Hussey.) Peacetime military drama was part of Hollywood’s, and Borzage’s, morale groundwork for America’s entry into the war.—RDL

You Never Can Tell (Film, US, Lou Breslow, 1951) Dog reincarnates  as a human detective (Dick Powell) to clear his human ward (Peggy Dow) of his poisoning death. The painstaking setting of its fantasy rules is not on the agenda for this extremely peculiar comedy.—RDL

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