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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Reacher, The Mysteries of Cabling, and Lovecraftian Gothic Catholicism

February 8th, 2022 | 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

1987: When the Day Comes (Film, South Korea, Jang Joon-hwan, 2017) A recalcitrant prosecutor’s refusal to rubber-stamp the interrogation torture death of a student activist snowballs into a scandal that threatens the dictatorship of Chun Doo-Hwan. Turns the events of the June Democracy Protests into a rattling thriller spiced with biting humor and rousing idealism.—RDL

Hired Gun (Film, US, Fran Strine, 2016) Rock doc profiles the unsung employed studio players and side men of the post-Wrecking Crew era, from the 70s to today. Alice Cooper is the mensch and Billy Joel the heel in this portrait of the precarious, sometimes familial, sometimes exploitative conditions of the people you didn’t know were playing on all those hit records.—RDL

Lapsis (Film, US, Noah Hutton, 2020) Hoping to fund experimental treatment for his brother, who suffers from a mysterious malady, an airport baggage courier joins the curious world of cabling, a gig economy job laying quantum cables through national parks. Speculative indie satire astutely skewers the infantilizing layer of fake-happy propaganda that covers the exploitative practices of app-driven labor.—RDL

Reacher Season 1 (Television, US, Amazon, Nick Santora, 2022) Enormous drifter and former MP Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) gets arrested for murder in Margrave, Georgia, and dismantles the conspiracy responsible. Truly satisfying junkburger show seamlessly adapts Lee Child’s first Reacher novel into a propulsive eight episodes with plenty of head butts and elbow scythes in the excellent fight choreography. Not Justified, by any means, but it’s not impossible to hope it might get within shouting distance in a season or two. –KH

Records (Film, Canada, Allan Zweig, 2021) Documentarian Zweig returns to the subject of his 1995 Vinyl to once again explore the joy and obsession of record collecting. Reflecting the changed personal circumstances of its maker, this docu requel acts as a corrective to the bleak original, zeroing in on the hobby’s affirming, art-embracing side.—RDL

Wife of a Spy (Film, Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2020) In wartime Japan, the impassioned wife (Yû Aoi) of a secretive silk merchant (Issey Takahashi) discovers that he and his assistant have been delving into military secrets. The stripped-down approach of genre revisionist Kurosawa turns the period spy thriller into an intense chamber drama.—RDL

Good

Dark Waters (Film, Russia/UK, Mariano Baino, 1993) Upon the death of her father, Elizabeth (Louise Salter) returns to the convent on the remote Black Sea island of her birth. Lovecraftian vibes mesh well with Gothic Catholicism in this ambitious, atmospheric, candle-lit creeper that plays like (somewhat) chilled-out Fulci. Not anything really spectacular, but not disappointing, which is an accomplishment worth noting. –KH

Not Recommended

The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window Season 1 (Television, US, Netflix, Rachel Ramras & Hugh Davidson & Larry Dorf, 2022) Traumatized by divorce and her daughter’s death, Anna (Kristen Bell) mixes drugs and wine and bad suspense novels and maybe sees a murder? Apparently, the showrunners fell in love with the idea of doing a tribute to the “woman on the edge of a crime-movie breakdown” genre but sporadically inserted arrant nonsense. The resulting casserole accomplishes neither comedy nor suspense but does thoroughly waste four hours and Kristen Bell. –KH

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