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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Picard, Hobbs & Shaw, and Korean Political Thrills

March 31st, 2020 | 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

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (Film, US, David Leitch) Federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and freelance spy Shaw (Jason Statham) swallow their mutual loathing to save the latter’s equally capable sister (Vanessa Kirby), and the world, from fanatical cyborg Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba.) Dials down the sentimentality, and dials up the sass, of the franchise it’s spinning off from, to less absurd but rousing results. Likely the last mainstream entertainment in a good while that will use an apocalyptic virus as its McGuffin.—RDL

The Hellbenders (Film, Italy, Sergio Corbucci, 1967) Having massacred the army guard for a money shipment, a family of Confederate revanchists led by a fanatical patriarch (Joseph Cotten) trick a gambler (Norma Bengell) into aiding their imposture as they return home with a coffin full of loot. Caustic fable of doom from the other auteur of the spaghetti western cycle. Also known as The Cruel Ones, with music by Leo Nichols, and by “Leo Nichols” I mean Ennio Morricone.—RDL

I Married a Witch (Film, US, Rene Clair, 1942) Revived after centuries of magical imprisonment, a witch (Veronica Lake) pursues vengeance on a gubernatorial candidate (Fredric March) descended from her witchfinder, only to quaff the love potion intended for him. Breezy supernatural romantic comedy gives Lake, now better remembered for femme fatale roles, room to break out the charm.—RDL.

Picard Season 1 (Television, US, CBS, Alex Kurtzman & Michael Chabon, 2020) A Romulan conspiracy that kills one possible heir to the late Data and endangers another draws a disaffected Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) from his vineyard and back to danger in space. Gripping, sometimes unnecessarily harsh, serial narrative paradoxically shows deep-dive love for Trek continuity while jettisoning everything about the Roddenberry ethos that makes it hard to write for.—RDL

Steel Rain (Film, South Korea, Woo-seok Yang, 2017) After a coup-turned-massacre, an intense North Korean agent (Woo-sung Jung) flees to the south with a wounded Number One Leader, teaming up with a mordant South Korean presidential security advisor (Do-won Kwak) to avert catastrophic war. Briskly executed thriller fills its hand with geopolitics, action, and buddy dynamics.—RDL

Good

Lawyer Man (Film, US, William Dieterle, 1932) Shabby but honest downtown attorney (William Powell) tests his moral compass by heading uptown and brushing up against machine politics, to the concern of his wiser, loyal secretary (Joan Blondell.) Light-hearted melodrama exemplifies the scrappy underdog social awareness of 30s Warners Brothers.—RDL

My Generation (Film, UK, David Batty, 2018) Documentary examines the Swingin’ Sixties youth culture explosion in England as a rising of the working class. Treatment of an oft-covered subject finds a surprisingly emotional pang in its contrast between youth and remembrance, by having Michael Caine deliver much of his narration as on-camera monologue, which he acts the subtle hell out of.  Too bad it devolves into a trite video montage during the obligatory “and then it all went bung” third act—in part because the disciplined, drug-declining Caine took a pass on the spiral-out phase.—RDL

Not Recommended

Madness (Film, Italy, Fernando Di Leo, 1980) Escaped killer (Joe Dallesandro) seeks loot buried inside a hunting cabin occupied by a macho lunkhead, his dutiful wife, and the calculating sister-in-law he’s having an affair with. Blends Di Leo’s hardboiled crime sensibility with psychosexual social critique typical of Wertmuller or Cavani, to dubious results.—RDL

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