Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Star Trek Strange New Worlds, Black Phone, and Barry

July 12th, 2022 | 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.


All the Old Knives (Film, US, Janus Metz, 2022) Intense CIA agent (Chris Pine) accepts an assignment to unmask the mole behind a disastrous past operation, leading him to his former colleague and lover (Thandiwe Newton.) Spy mystery framed as a two-hander between its smoldering leads, with a beguiling love of sleek surfaces reminiscent of Jewison’s The Thomas Crown Affair.—RDL

Barry Season 3 (Television, US, HBOMax, Alec Berg & Bill Hader, 2022) Consequences mount for the now cripplingly borderline hitman/actor Barry (Hader) and everyone else in his orbit, in a season that successfully switches the series tone from “black comedy” to “comic bleakness.” We pay the piper for our ironic distance in previous seasons: note how many sequences are filmed in long shots with few cuts, often through silent windows. Frankly, this is such a good place and tone to end the show that the news of Season 4 has me a trifle nervous. –KH

Beasts Clawing At Straws (Film, South Korea, 2020, Kim Yong-Hoon) A Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with cash brings a struggling bath attendant (Sung-Woo Bae), an abused bar hostess (Hyeon-bin Shin), and a weasel deep in debt to the mob (Jung Woo-Sung) into complicated and violent collision. Brutal ensemble crime drama withholds its structural trick until well into its twisty running time.—RDL

The Bridge (Film, Germany, Bernhard Wicki, 1959) As American forces push deep into German territory, teen pals excitedly embrace their draft into the army and are assigned, in an act of apparent mercy, to guard the inconsequential bridge outside their home town. Drama of war’s futility earns its connection to the characters by establishing them in their relatively normal world before activating their inevitable doom.—RDL

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 (Television, US, Paramount+, Akiva Goldsman & Henry Alonso Myers, 2022) Aided by Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn), lantern -jawed captain of the USS Enterprise Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) solves space mysteries and brings the Starfleet ethos to the Alpha Quadrant. Proving that the secret to a prequel is not to add backstory to existing tales but to tell new ones within their framework, this astute homage to the original series balances Easter eggs and continuity callbacks with actual honest-to-goodness episodic problem-solving storytelling. As if begging Ken to pick up a Paramount+ subscription, its finale advances a most Hitean thesis about a certain other starship captain.—RDL


The Black Phone (Film, US, Scott Derrickson, 2022) In north Denver in 1978, tween siblings Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) fear the Grabber (Ethan Hawke), a serial child killer in a weird devil mask. Closely based on the short story by Joe Hill, it serves up flashes of excellent acting and a rich 70s palette but doesn’t trust the audience enough, blotting the tween dread vibe with unnecessary jump scares. A solid child endangerment puzzle movie with a nice lick of the supernatural, it never quite achieves terror takeoff. –KH

3 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Star Trek Strange New Worlds, Black Phone, and Barry”

  1. JEFFREY KAHRS says:

    I mean we have to know said Hitean Thesis

  2. Andrew Miller says:

    Tell Me More about Strange New Worlds, and in particular the teased “Hite Thesis” about a certain starship captain.

  3. Ed Sizemore says:

    I would like to add my voice to the choir asking to know what the “Hitean thesis about a certain other starship captain” is.

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