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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Licorice Pizza and a Folk Horror Doc

December 28th, 2021 | 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

Dillinger (Film, US, John Milius, 1973) Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger (Warren Oates) leads an all-star roster of gunmen across the west and midwest with dogged G-Man Melvin Purvis (Ben Johnson) on his trail. With a docudrama veneer misdirecting from its romanticism and operatic body count inflation, Milius explores the paradox at the heart of American conservatism: do you root for the government agents shooting the rebellious crooks, or the rebellious crooks shooting the government agents?—RDL

The French Dispatch (Film, US, Wes Anderson, 2021) Aided by his jailer muse (Lea Seydoux), an imprisoned painter (Benicio del Toro) confounds the art world; a solitude-seeking journalist (Frances McDormand) gets too close to a naifish student protester (Timothée Chalamet); a Baldwinesque writer (Jeffrey Wright) witnesses the kidnapping of a police commissioner’s son. Hyper-stylized tribute to The New Yorker and American dreams of Paris puckishly treats New York intellectualism of the 60s to 80s as a fandom to be rebooted and Easter Egged. The anthology format affords insufficient room for the underlying melancholy to build, making this mid-shelf Anderson. —RDL

Hawkeye Season 1 (Television, US, Disney+, Jonathan Igla & Kevin Feige, 2021) While on family vacation to Christmastime New York, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is drawn by a hero-worshiping young archer (Hailee Steinfeld) into a conspiracy involving her mother’s oily new beau and an old costume he’d sooner forget. Renner turns in one of the MCU’s most affecting performances as a battered, world-weary Avenger, and Steinfeld is winning in a potentially annoying role. But most of all we finally have a Disney+ Marvel show with a bona fide conclusive ending.—RDL

Licorice Pizza (Film, US, Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021) Hustling child actor Gary (Cooper Hoffman) falls for directionless twentysomething Alana (Alana Haim) in 1973 Encino. Seventies hangout film told as picaresque scenes in a glowingly recalled romance, tonally nailed by Anderson and held together by two terrifically natural performances as Gary realizes there’s things he can’t hustle and Alana slowly gets a life. Innately shaggy-dog narrative can’t quite compete with PTA’s Pinnacles, but not for lack of charm. Bradley Cooper’s wild turn as Jon Peters deserves a callout. –KH

Pietr the Latvian (Fiction, George Simenon, 1931) Indefatigable flying squad inspector Jules Maigret pursues a border-hopping con man, picking up a deeply personal motivation along the way. The first novel in the classic series finds Maigret’s iconic ethos fully in place, albeit in more of a thriller mode than later installments. You don’t have to start here, but unlike other long running series, it doesn’t hurt.—RDL

Spider-Man: No Way Home (Film, US, Joe Watts, 2021) His secret identity revealed, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to erase the world’s memory but of course things aren’t that simple. Less empty than the previous film thanks to Willem Dafoe’s effortless gift, and full of the joy of the franchise, much of it borrowed (to delightful immediate effect) from Into the Spider-Verse. If you love (or even kinda like) Spider-Man, I unreservedly Recommend this film even as I admit it’s basically Ready Peter One. –KH

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (Film, US, Kier-La Janisse, 2021) Beginning with the Unholy Trinity canon, Janisse and fifty talking heads set out an expansive 192-minute geography of this film mode or subgenre or vibe. Showing more national cinematic approaches to folk reaction than just England, Janisse reads the voodoo film, the folk-monster film, the vampire film, and many other types through a folk-horror lens, ironically winding up arguing against the subgenre as currently understood. –KH

Good

Dillinger (Film, US, Max Nosseck, 1945) Glowering stick-up man John Dillnger (Lawrence Tierney) busts his cellmates out of prison to stage a series of ingenious bank jobs across the west and midwest. Deromanticizes Dillinger as a resentful churl, with a script unbesmirched by historical detail.—RDL

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