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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Raise a Glass With Miike, To, and Soderbergh

December 5th, 2018 | 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

Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis (Nonfiction, Kingsley Amis, 2009) This omnibus collects three Amis books on (mostly) spirits, the first two being themselves collections of essays and newspaper columns written between 1971 and 1984. Thus some repetition sets in, but Amis’ superb wordsmithing, charm, and jovial curmudgeonry keep you at the party. The last book is a long quiz, best considered as the “top with soda” portion of the cocktail. –KH

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable (Film, Japan, Takashi Miike, 20177) Sullen high schooler sporting  outlandish ducktail haircut discovers he is a Stand user, one of a class of metahumans who manifest super powers by conjuring freaky avatars. Manga adaptation heightens the comedy by treating its utterly kooky imagery with deadpan seriousness,—RDL

Today We Live (Film, US, Howard Hawks, 1933) Believing that her American bomber pilot beau (Gary Cooper) is dead, a British ambulance driver in WWI (Joan Crawford) marries a childhood friend (Robert Young), now serving on a torpedo boat. Wartime melodrama features gripping naval and aerial combat sequences and the group bonds and suppressed emotions synonymous with Hawks.—RDL

Unsane (Film, US, Steven Soderbergh, 2018) Insurance-scamming psychiatric facility lures a bank analyst (Claire Foy) into involuntary commitment, exposing her to a worse personal horror. Already alarming subject matter is rendered all the more achingly suspenseful by its commitment to queasy, blue-brown realism.—RDL

Vengeance (Film, Hong Kong/France, Johnnie To, 2009) When Triads kill his daughter’s family in Macau, former assassin Costello (a glacial-eyed Johnny Hallyday, playing Alain Delon) recruits a team of hit men (Anthony Wong, Lam Suet, Lam Ka-Tung) to hit them back. The first two acts run in a predictable rut, but halfway through To lights the afterburner and sends the film to the moon — or rather to a junkyard for a mindblowing shootout, and lands a stunning final act worthy of Sergio Leone. –KH

Walking With Cthulhu (Nonfiction, David Haden, 2011) The subtitle of this collection of essays says it all: “H.P. Lovecraft as Psychogeographer, New York 1924-1926.” Haden points out that Lovecraft’s habitual all-night walks prefigure the Surrealist flaneur and the Situationist dérive, and finds a productive new way to look at HPL’s art. He also finds a possible inspiration for R’lyeh in a forgotten Garrett Serviss novel, and intensively annotates “Nyarlathotep,” so step right up. –KH

Good

Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight (Stand-up, US, Netflix, Craig Ferguson, 2017) Ferguson ambles through a lot of half-stories and engaging blather on the way to one disappointing joke: in short, classic Ferguson monologue but for an hour. Some of the stories gleam as perfect anecdotes, and some just let him mug engagingly. If you miss, miss, miss, miss Craig on the Late Late Show (as do all right-thinking people) it’s Recommended, but just because that hit feels so good. –KH

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