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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Samurai, Santa and Spider-Mans

December 27th, 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

The Great Killing (Film, Japan, Eiichi Kudo, 1964) Coup plotters hiding from an official purge plan a second attempt to prevent a ruthless rival from becoming the de facto ruler of Tokugawa Japan. Revisionist samurai film portrays struggles for power both figurative and physical as chaotic, confusing, and squalid.—RDL

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Film, US, Bob Persichetti et al., 2018) Teen under pressure Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) gets bitten by a high-tech spider and sees a hole blown in reality. High-energy romp zings around the tired origin story at its heart, as numerous guest Spider-Folk provide capability relief and up-beats. The animation amply swipes from Ditko, Romita, Kirby, and co. with love, similarly zinging around its sub-Pixar base look. –KH

Roma (Film, Mexico, Alfonso Cuarón, 2018) Shy maid (Yalitza Aparicio) to a doctor’s family fears the worst when her martial artist boyfriend gets her pregnant. Domestic slice-of-life drama opened up by an epic period backdrop. Adopts Italian Neorealism as its guide both in style and brutal manipulation. See this Netflix production on a big screen if you’re lucky enough to live near a venue that’s showing it.—RDL

Good

The Christmas Chronicles (Film, US, Clay Kaytis, 2018) Inquisitive Katie (Darby Camp) and her big brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) stow away on Santa’s sleigh, resulting in a wrecked sleigh, Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) without his bag of presents, and Christmas in danger. Netflix tries for the “family Christmas classic” film by swiping from many better films and letting Kurt Russell chew the scenery, which is not a terrible plan as plans go. A notable Christian subtext and plenty of zoomy CGI reindeer over Chicago help Kurt and Camp keep this one on both the Nice list and the Good list. –KH

The Keyhole (Film, US, Michael Curtiz, 1933) Charming socialite (Kay Francis) books cruise to Cuba to escape her blackmailing ex, shadowed by a suave private eye (George Brent) hired by her wealthy older husband. Noir plotline played as a glamorous romantic comedy, with all the best lines going to undersung character actor and classic Runyonesque mug Allen Jenkins.—RDL

Okay

Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Film, Shunya Itō, 1972) Vengeance-seeking inmate (Meiko Kaji) goes on the lam with a group of fellow prisoners. More hallucinatory and theatrical than its predecessor, but just as harsh and lurid, part two in the series turns its patriarchy-slaying lead into a numbed bystander.—RDL

The Haunting of Hill House (Television, US, Netflix, Mike Flanagan, 2018) Hugh Crain’s (Henry Thomas in 1991, Timothy Hutton in the present) decision to buy and flip the much-haunted Hill House in 1991 tests his family to destruction, culminating in the present day. Flanagan’s bravura cross-decade plotting and filming might have justified his perverse decision to flip Shirley Jackson’s Pinnacle novel into a conventional post-Amityville haunted house story until the asymptotically Ire-Inspiring last episode. –KH

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Samurai, Santa and Spider-Mans”

  1. Ethan C. says:

    Yes, Haunting of Hill House! How did they manage to punt the whole series premise so badly in the final episode?

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