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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Sex, Wiindigo Lore and Urban Planning

April 18th, 2017 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Citizen Jane: Battle For the City (Film, US, Matt Tyrnauer, 2017) Documentary recounts the David and Goliath throwdown between writer Jane Jacobs’ vision of a vibrant, street focused city took on Robert Moses’ modernist urban renewalism and its mania for towering housing projects and downtown expressways. Magisterially presents a web of information and ideas as a gripping conflict with real emotional stakes.—RDL. Seen at TIFF ‘16; now in theatrical release.

Crashing Season 1 (Television, US, Pete Holmes & Judd Apatow, 2017) Without a place to stay after he catches his wife in bed with an extremely annoying other man, a naive Christian (Holmes) heads to New York to pursue his stand-up comedy dream. Observational squirmcom follows the Apatow formula of not following a formula, rooting the laughs in all-too-real autobiography.—RDL

Masters of Sex Season 4 (Television, US, Michelle Ashford, 2016) With his marriage kaput and hers averted, Virginia pursues Bill, and he pulls away. A culminating season for the show’s sex researcher romantic arc, even if conventional TV writing is increasingly creeping in around the edges.—RDL

The Round House (Fiction, Louise Erdrich, 2012) 13 year old living on an Anishinaabe reserve in North Dakota resolves to identify and kill his mother’s rapist. Crime novel framework grants propulsion to a rich community portrait informed by the mythologies of the windigo and Star Trek: the Next Generation.–RDL

Good

China 9, Liberty 37 (Film, Italy/Spain, Monte Hellman, 1978) Handsome gunfighter (Fabio Testi) develops second thoughts about his assignment from the railroad to kill a grizzled dirt farmer (Warren Oates) after meeting his alluring younger wife (Jenny Agutter.) Suffused with aching existential loneliness (not to mention steamy 70s sexuality), this late fusion of American New Wave and spaghetti western aesthetics might qualify as a forgotten masterpiece, if not for its botched dialogue mixing and the flat performance of its hunky but inert leading man.—RDL

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (Film, US, Dash Shaw, 2017) Uncool kids struggle to survive when a quake causes their entire high school to…well you get the idea. Animated feature drawn to look like the doodles in the back of a misanthropic teen’s geometry notebook. Voice talent includes Jason Schwartzman, Maya Rudolph, Reggie Watts, Lena Dunham and Susan Sarandon.—RDL. Seen at TIFF ‘16; now in theatrical release.

Okay

The Golden Cane Warrior (Film, Indonesia, Ifa Isfansyah, 2014) Unprepared martial arts student must seek the ultimate golden cane move after vengeful fellow students murder their guilt-wracked guru. Even with solid storytelling and cinematography, a fu film that cheats the fight choreography tops out at “okay.” Cool to see a period martial arts film from Indonesia though.—RDL

Purani Haveli (Film, India, Shyam & Tulsi Ramsay, 1989) Cruel foster parents Kumar and Seema buy the titular creepy mansion with their ward Anita’s money. When her beau Sunil and Seema’s scheming brother Vikram, along with two dozen or so indistinguishable friends, go out to the house, a haunted statue, ghostly forces, and finally a demonic ogre begin attacking them. This jovial Bollygothic (Bollygiallo?) is pretty much derailed by boring leads and an endless comic subplot (Sunil’s assistant is an exact double of the local bandit leader) but eventually turns the scares back on for a final act full of blood, fire, and the power of … Christ? –KH

Not Recommended

Ghost in the Shell (Film, US, Rupert Sanders, 2017) No matter how slavishly beautiful the visuals, the shell of a movie is nothing without an animating spirit. I think I heard something like that about fifty times in this thuddingly obvious script, which impressively manages to never diverge from the anime storyline in an interesting or original direction. Clint Mansell’s score is a great soundtrack, just not for this movie. Poor Scarlett Johansson is as trapped as the Major; she’s the only person the viewer has any sympathy for. –KH

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