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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Phoebe-Waller Bridge, The Night Stalker, and the Great American Speed-Reading Hoax

February 2nd, 2021 | 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

Crashing Season 1 (Television, UK, Netflix, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, 2016) Twee trainwreck (Waller-Bridge) goes to London to visit the longtime friend (Jonathan Bailey) she absolutely, definitely, 100% isn’t in love with, staying at the condemned hospital where his fiancee and other charming neurotics live as short-term tenants. Fits PWB’s sensibility, later seen to its fullest in Fleabag, into an accessible sitcom format.—RDL

The Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer (Television, US, Netflix, Tiller Russell, 2021) Four-part docuseries follows the two LA County Sheriff’s detectives who hunted serial killer Richard Ramirez in the summer of 1985. The focus on the detectives makes a refreshing change from the more usual killer-centric framing of true crime, and the length of the series actually accommodates the victims’ perspective as well. Russell even approaches the city itself as a frame, albeit sketchily. Not immune from the occasional misplaced glam effect (especially the fetishistic recreation of elements of crime scene photos) but pretty much a best-of-breed example of the genre. –KH

Scan Artist: How Evelyn Wood Convinced the World That Speed-Reading Worked (Nonfiction, Marcia Biederman, 2019) LDS go-getter with a flair for showmanship builds a business empire, mostly to the benefit of others, from the bogus practice of speed-reading. Parallels to eliptony abound as this keenly observed biography places Reading Dynamics in the storied tradition of all-American hucksterism.—RDL

The Visitor (Film, Italy, Antonio Pietrangeli, 1963) Lonely agricultural agent (Sandra Milo) invites a pinched, insecure big-city suitor (François Périer) to spend a day with her in her bumpkin-plagued small town. Milo brings touching depth to her character in this bittersweet comedy/drama.—RDL

Good

Havana Motor Club (Film, Cuba/US, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, 2015) Cuban gearheads battle Party bureaucracy, and the fact that they only have a handful of vintage, heavily customized vehicles, in their bid to legalize car racing. Documentary covers a unique subculture at a point of transition with sympathy and humor.—RDL

Long Shot (Film, US, Jonathan Levine, 2019) Rabble-rousing journalist (Seth Rogen) signs on as speechwriter for his childhood crush (Charlize Theron), now the Secretary of State, as she lays the groundwork for a presidential campaign. Smart romcom offers a credible impediment to the leads’ coupledom. Gotta ding it a level for its stock climax, though.—RDL

Making Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film (Film, US, William Conlin, 2019) Documentary tells the history of the Planet of the Apes franchise from the point of view of its innovative prosthetic makeup artists. Like a feature-length special feature, except that it’s produced by one of the principal subjects rather than the studio, and thus leaves the dirt in.—RDL

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