Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: School Stories, Hollywood Memories, and One Big Airplane

September 13th, 2016 | KenH

This week Robin is off consuming an incredible flood of films at the Toronto International Film Festival. Catch his capsule reviews daily, or wait for the full round-up of all films in order of preference, over at his blog. Those reviews will reappear here as films get released and become available beyond the festival circuit.

In other news, due to good deeds done in a former life, Ken is back on the Osprey Publishing review copy list. To avoid this feature becoming Osprey Consumes Ken and Robin Consume Media, Ken will only consume the pick of each shipment in this space.


Bad Machinery (Webcomic, UK, John Allison, 2009-present) Two teams of students (one set of boys, one set of girls) at Griswalds Grammar School in Tackleford, Yorkshire, solve mysteries with a dash of high weirdness and infectious dialogue. Each year’s story represents a school term; the kids started out 12-ish and are now 15-ish. The sly line art is reminiscent of Kate Beaton, and the plots are many-stranded Wodehousian things, but the real joy is the lovely, mad, human characters. A must-read for Bubblegumshoe fans wanting the occasional selkie or dimensional rift or scooter riot. –KH

Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) (Film, France, Eva Husson, 2015)  Rift between two high schoolers over a narcissistic boy triggers out of control sex parties. Dreamy drama is subversive in depicting  extreme teenage sexuality as entirely non-apocalyptic—RDL. Seen at TIFF ‘15; now on Netflix.

The Barbary Pirates: 15th-17th Centuries (Osprey Elite 213) (Nonfiction, Angus Konstam, 2016) It’s not possible to do justice to 200+ years of North African naval-political history in only 64 lushly illustrated pages, but Osprey’s pirate guru provides a good first-cut overview eerily similar to an RPG book on the subject. GMs looking for settings could do far worse than 1580s Algiers, where a third of the corsair captains were European former Christians; or the pirate island of Djerba south of Tunis, the quondam isle of Odysseus’ lotus-eaters. –KH

Can I Go Now? (Nonfiction, Brian Kellow, 2015) Biography of super-agent Sue Mengers depicts a outrageous, dogged, wounded non-feminist smashing through barriers, throwing A-list parties and leaving a trail of bruising friendships in her wake. Offers an unusual vantage on the rise of existential, freewheeling 70s Hollywood filmmaking and its 80s retrenchment into corporate aspiration—from the point of view of the money, honey.—RDL

Messerschmitt Me-264 Amerika Bomber (Osprey X-Planes 2) (Nonfiction, Robert Forsythe, 2016) In 1941, Willy Messerschmitt sold Hitler on his design for an intercontinental bomber capable of hitting New York (or Chicago!) from the Third Reich. Forsythe covers everything from the engineering challenges to the Luftwaffe infighting that eventually doomed this doomsday weapon. Most of the art is period photos and reproduced blueprints and maps; GMs will thrill to the cutaway diagrams and the weird details. –KH


The World is Ever Changing (Nonfiction, Nicolas Roeg, 2013) In what clearly started as an autobiography and even more clearly turned into “what the hell, record him talking and publish a lightly edited transcript,” the esteemed director free-associates on his films, showbiz anecdotes, newfangledness, and the paranormal. Best story: Roeg asks eyepatch-wearing director Andre de Toth how he lost his eye and is told, “I often visit the grave of the man who did this to me.”–RDL

Not Recommended

The Thing (Film, US, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, 2011) Sure, a prequel-cum-remake of the John Carpenter 1982 masterpiece is unnecessary, but what if we crossed it with Aliens? And replaced the tension with jump-scares? Dr Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is actually pretty good) is the Ellen Ripley to the eager-to-exploit-this-alien Dr. Sander Halvorsen (Ulrich Thomsen), while Joel Edgerton adds a weak Michael-Biehn-or-is-it-Kurt-Russell vibe. The plot briefly approaches freshness once, then immediately drowns it in overdone, overloud CGI imperfectly replicating the original. –KH

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