Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Spider-Verse, John Wick, and a Masterful Homage to Hong Kong Neon

June 6th, 2023 | 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.

The Pinnacle

A Light Never Goes Out (Film, HK, Anastasia Tsang, 2022) Grieving widow (Sylvia Chang) discovers that her late husband (Simon Yam), one of the last craftsman of Hong Kong’s once celebrated neon sign tradition, has secretly kept his shop open and even taken on a dedicated apprentice (Henick Chou.) The two great stars of this drama of loss and memory show how little an actor of genuine presence need do to bring profoundly moving moments to the screen. Nostalgia for the city’s heyday of neon provides a safe way to regret Hong Kong’s constricting present.—RDL


Broken Lullaby (Film, US, Ernst Lubitsch, 1932) Remorse-stricken French WWI veteran (Phillips Holmes) goes to Germany to visit the grave of the soldier he killed, stumbling into a bond with his fiancee (Nancy Carroll) and father (Lionel Barrymore.) The master of sophisticated comedy makes an atypical excursion into serious drama, with alternately hard-hitting and moving results.—RDL

John Wick Chapter Four (Film, US, Chad Stahelski, 2023) When a freedom-seeking John Wick (Keanu Reeves) starts knocking off leaders of the assassin’s guild, a reluctant former colleague (Donnie Yen) and a mercenary outsider (Shamier Anderson) come looking for him. Masterful series course correction stages gobsmacking action set pieces, makes full spectrum use of Yen as both fighter and actor, and, most importantly, remembers that John Wick should be heading toward the bad guys, not running away from them.—RDL

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Film, US, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, 2023) After saving the cosmos, Spider-Man [Miles Morales] (Shameik Moore) yearns to reconnect with Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and the other Spider-Men of the multiverse, but the villainous Spot (Jason Schwarzman) wants to secure Spider-Man’s respect and comeuppance. Wisely spending far less time in Morales’ sub-Pixar home dimension, this movie flows through an extravaganza of animation styles reinforcing the riotous diversity of Spiders-Man that Miles inherently embodies: is tragedy necessary for heroism? Scriptwriters Phil Lord & Christopher Miller spend the runtime delightfully on jokes, spectacle, and Spider-bits so we don’t get an answer to that question, but we do get enlightenment arcs for Miles and Gwen, which is enough excuse to grade this film Recommended instead of Incomplete. –KH


Identification Marks: None (Film, Poland, Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965) Directionless failed ichthyology student (Skolimowski) kills time before reporting for his stint in the army. Skolimowski’s first feature cobbles together an evocative New Wave slice of life on a sub-shoestring budget.—RDL

Symphony for a Massacre (Film, France, Jacques Deray, 1963) Suave crook (Jean Rochefort) fails to account for the inevitability of things screwing up when he rips off a satchel of cash from his partners. Laconic crime flick from the peak era of Gallic existential cool.—RDL

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