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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Platonic Murders and a Teenage Witch

December 18th, 2018 | Robin

Recommended

The Athenian Murders (Fiction, José Carlos Somoza, 2000) When a killer stalks students at Plato’s Academy, they turn to Heracles Pontos, the Decipherer of Enigmas, to resolve the case — although the translator believes this supposedly ancient Greek novel holds a code, and that a killer stalks him … Works both as a mystery novel and as Nabokovian metafiction, which is surely all one can ask. –KH

Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London’s Lost Artist (Nonfiction, Phil Baker, 2011) Biography of the artist and occultist pierces layers of mythologizing, by its subject and others, revealing the hand-to-mouth life of an impoverished, working-class autodidact. In convincingly sorting truth from fancy, performs an act of Herculean and definitive proportions, while still leaving in the fun anecdotes.—RDL

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 (Television, US, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, 2018) Half-mortal, half-witch (Kiernan Shipka) balances her affection for her human friends with the desire of the Dark Lord to enrol her in sorcery school. A great cast, led by the compelling Shipka, digs into the comic horror material with relish. Wisely sidesteps the meandering serialism of so many binge shows for the snappier pacing brought by clearly delineated episodes. It’s a telling moment in the culture wars when a show features multiple sympathetic comedy Satanists within a Dennis Wheatley/Jack Chick cosmology. –RDL

King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen (Film, US, Steve Mitchell, 2018) Wild anecdotes of shot-stealing guerrilla moviemaking take center stage in this clips & interviews career survey of the genre outsider responsible for such titles as It’s Alive, God Told Me To, and Q the Winged Serpent.—RDL

Primer (Film, US, Shane Carruth, 2004) Electronic engineers in their garage lab construct a time machine allowing them to jump a few hours into the future. Watching people perform complex procedures is weirdly absorbing on film; this micro-budget SF head-bender tests that by withholding any explanation of what we’re seeing that the characters wouldn’t make to one another.—RDL

Good

20,000 Years in Sing Sing (Film, US, Michael Curtiz, 1933) Hardboiled robber (Spencer Tracy) bonds with an honest warden, only to be put to the test when his girl (Bette Davis) is badly injured by a former confederate. Flat script gives Curtiz little to work with, with results noteworthy for the only pairing of its iconic stars and a sympathy for the criminal class that has long gone by the wayside.—RDL

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