Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Picard, The Mandalorian, Tetris, Beau is Afraid

April 25th, 2023 | 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 Case of Hana & Alice (Film, Japan, Shunji Iwai, 2015) New arrival at high school bonds with her reclusive neighbor from one grade up as they bumble through an investigation into the latter’s supposedly dead classmate. The anime format confers a level of idealization on a sweet, naturalistic comic drama of burgeoning friendship.—RDL

My Way (Film, South Korea, Je-kyu Kang, 2011) A champion marathoner (Jang Dong-Gun) is sentenced to serve in the Japanese military, where he and his friends are forced to fight against the Soviets in Mongolia under the command of his fanatical former athletic rival (Joe Odagiri.) Moments of bombastic sentimentality bookend hellish, impressively mounted battle sequences across three theaters of war.—RDL

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 (Television, US, Paramount+, Terry Matalas, 2023) Picard (Patrick Stewart) discovers that the son (Ed Speelers) whose existence Crusher (Gates McFadden) concealed from him ties into a conspiracy to topple the Federation. Though larded with Easter eggs, the throughline of this rousing valedictory remains rooted in character, bringing the TNG cast forward from where we last saw them and then giving each of them a new arc to complete.—RDL


Kill Boksoon (Film, South Korea, Sung-hyun Byun, 2023) Renowned killer (Jeon Do-yeon) faces her greatest challenge yet—understanding her increasingly closed-off teen daughter (Esom.) Blend of family drama and assassin conspiracy actioner slowed by an excess of tertiary characters and subplots.—RDL


The Mandalorian Season 3 (Television, US, Disney+, Jon Favreau, 2023) Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu assist Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in her bid to reunite the Mandalorians and resettle their homeworld. Backburners the established premise of the show in favor of a new one without taking the time to invest the audience in it.—RDL

Tetris (Film, US, Jon S. Baird, 2023) Scrappy entrepreneur game publisher Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) battles Communism and Robert Maxwell (Roger Allam) to secure rights to Tetris in 1988. Completely anodyne produpic (a biopic, but for a product) coasts on nostalgia for falling bricks in between entertaining skirmishes with bad guys who hate products and capitalism. Cleverly leans into its garbage CGI so I can’t hate on that too much. –KH

Exercise Extreme Caution

Beau Is Afraid (Film, US, Ari Aster, 2023) Simmering neurotic Beau (Joaquin Phoenix) faces increasingly surreal obstacles on his journey to visit his overbearing mother (Patti LuPone). This paranoid reality-horror dark ride rivets the viewers’ attention almost nonstop through its three-hour runtime thanks to Aster’s terrifying comic and visual instincts and Phoenix’ whipped-dog performance. The mathematical opposite of Everything Everywhere All At Once, it is not a puzzle to be solved or even a message to be learned but an ordeal to be undergone. Do not watch it if you can’t enjoy watching suffering and cruelty. I mean it. –KH

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