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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Speedsters, Ghosts, and a Bus to the Moon

June 7th, 2016 | 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

Flash Season 2 (TV, CW, 2015-2016) Flash discovers Earth-2, and Earth-2 discovers him right back in an epic season-long battle between Flash and Zoom. The Flash writers still need to fine-tune the series’ pacing, but they feel brave enough to tackle multiverses, the Speed Force, and ever more metahumans while setting up Wally West, Jesse Quick, and Flashpoint for Season 3. This shows a proper Silver Age confidence in the material, a confidence absolutely vital to making a silly superhero show good. –KH

Girls Season 5 (TV, HBO, 2016) Life choices and betrayals send Hannah and friends into their own separate tailspins. This is the hardest season to watch for the same reason it’s brilliant: the writing lets us see the already narcissistic characters hit the emotional skids in a way that calls our sympathy for them into question.—RDL

Nothing Lasts Forever (Film, US, Tom Schiller, 1984) Fresh-faced kid (Zach Galligan) looks for the art form that will bring him fame in an alternate-history NYC ruled by the Port Authority, little suspecting that a secret society of the homeless waits to send him on a bus ride to the moon. Whimsical, bizarro, strangely beautiful contemporary fantasy shot like a 30s movie. Featuring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Clancy Brown, Eddie Fisher, Imogene Coca, Sam Jaffe, Mort Sahl and Calvert deForest. From a director best known for similarly lovely and off-kilter SNL shorts, this is the kind of film you doubt exists even as you’re watching it.–RDL

Good

Crimson Peak (Film, US, Guillermo del Toro, 2015) Creepy siblings (Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain) lure innocent and tiresome girl (Mia Wasikowska) into a literally decaying family built on death and blood-red clay. Del Toro mostly lets the momentum of the genre carry the film (along with Fernando Velazquez’ score) while he, production designer Thomas E. Sanders, and cinematographer Dan Laustsen build an honest-to-Eyre old-dark-house gothic in a giallo-Hammer palette marred only by crap CGI. As in the true gothic, the setting commands the story, mood and image trump narrative, and characters feel rather than think. –KH

The Fall of Paris (Non-fiction, Alistair Horne, 1965) Sweeping narrative history connects the Franco-Prussian War, most especially the Siege of Paris, to the establishment of the Paris Commune and ensuing civil war. Drips with sardonicism that would make Edward Gibbon proud, but not for the uninitiated: oddly for a popular history, it assumes a reader already versed in the subject matter.—RDL

Nameless (Fiction, Matt Rossi, 2016) Two Rhode Islanders discover magic, their true love, and their grandmother’s monstrous plot against them in this rambunctious debut novel from the eliptonic essayist behind Bottled Demon and At Last, Atlantis. Although strong echoes of Tim Powers and (of course) the Cthulhu Mythos manifest, this postmodern fantasy most recalls the feel and flavor of Matt Wagner’s Mage. Call it Recommended if that all sounds neat enough to forgive various typos, editing infelicities, and occasional lacunae of definition in the name of stakes-raising. –KH

The Nice Guys (Film, US, Shane Black, 2016) Alcoholic private eye (Ryan Gosling) and oddly honorable thug-for-hire (Russell. Crowe) team up to find a missing girl somehow mixed up in the porn business. Comic banter between the leads takes center stage, backstopped by 70s style and eruptions of entropic violence. Just don’t think about the believability of the situation they’re investigating .–RDL.

Not Recommended

Phantom of the Opera (Fiction, Gaston Leroux, 1910) Grotesque master of traps who dwells in the Paris Opera extorts its management and stalks the beautiful soprano he’s been teaching to sing. In a flaw common to serialized material, starts strong but gets lost in the weeds as it goes along. Iconic moments from later adaptations, like the chandelier drop and the reveal of Erik’s hideous face, are thrown away early on. Aside from these memorable images, its strength lies in the journalistic evocation of the setting. —RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Speedsters, Ghosts, and a Bus to the Moon”

  1. Aaron says:

    Phantom of the Paradise is a good one.

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