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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Peacemaker, Titane, Kimi, and the Evolution of Maps in WWII

February 22nd, 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.

The Pinnacle

Titane (Film, France, Julia Ducournau, 2021) Serial killer undergoing a weird pregnancy (Agathe Rousselle) takes the heat off her escalating kill spree by posing as the long-missing son of a steroid-addled fire captain (Vincent Lindon.) Visually arresting entry in the cinema of extremity draws on giallo and the body horror traditions of David Cronenberg and Shinya Tsukamoto, but eschews the thriller structure in favor of sometimes memetic, sometimes utterly surreal drama. The only film ever to win both Cannes’ Palme d’Or and the TIFF Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award. Multiple content warnings here.—RDL

Recommended

A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps (Nonfiction, Jeremy Black, 2020) Not the predictable cartograms of Versailles-to-Nagasaki one might expect from the title, but a copiously illustrated history of the uses and evolution of maps – military, propagandistic, journalistic – throughout WWII. Remarkable study repays close attention and idle thumb-through alike, a real contribution. One nitpick: the center gutter sometimes swallows a bit of the map displayed, an irksome flaw in an otherwise beautifully designed work. –KH

Kimi (Film, US, Steven Soderbergh, 2022) Agoraphobic tech worker (Zoe Kravitz) discovers audio evidence of a murder while conducting quality assurance for the titular Alexa-like smart home product. Soderbergh’s formalist chops lend nail-biting propulsion to a kicky chamber thriller riff on Blow Out and Rear Window.—RDL

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Film, Bhutan, Pawo Choyning Dorji, 2022) Would-be pop star reluctantly fulfills the last year of his national service by making the arduous trek to teach for a year in Bhutan’s most remote mountain village. Beautiful, simply told tale of the beauty of simplicity features luminous performances from the most charismatic cast of non-actors ever put before a camera—a device none of them had laid eyes on before shooting started.—RDL

Peacemaker Season 1 (Television, US, HBO Max, James Gunn, 2022) Helmeted vigilante (John Cena) confronts the roots of his ultraviolent manbabyism when ARGUS makes him the expendable spearhead of a B-team effort against a covert alien menace. With his signature mix of goofball camaraderie, splatter, sentimentality, and deep comics nerdery, Gunn carves out a trashy, downmarket corner of the DCU, where costumed crimefighters live in trailers, work shifts at chain restaurants, and conduct epic fights in ugly parking lots.—RDL

That Uncertain Feeling (Film, US, Ernst Lubitsch, 1941) Bored with her no-nonsense insurance exec husband (Melvyn Douglas), a socialite (Merle Oberon) turns her attentions to a misanthropic concert pianist (Burgess Meredith.) Witty love triangle comedy is lesser Lubitsch, but still Lubitsch, so ergo recommended.—RDL

Good

Disaster at Stalingrad: An Alternate History (Fiction, Peter G. Tsouras, 2013) Admiral Raeder’s death leads to defeat for PQ-17, Turkey enters the war against Russia, and Hitler replaces von Paulus with Manstein: Tsouras abandons the “least change” model of alternate history for a Rube Goldberg meditation on Lend-Lease that ends essentially as fanfic. But buy the premise(s) and you get a ripping yarn about how if everything went just right, Stalingrad would maybe have fallen. –KH

I Want You Back (Film, US, Jason Orley, 2022) Dumped by their partners, a complacent functionary for an evil nursing home corp (Charlie Day) and a stuck receptionist (Jenny Slate) strike up a friendship and plot to break up the new relationships that ruined their lives. Smart romcom keeps its character and central contrivance charming and real.—RDL

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