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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Star Trek: Discovery, Spider-Man, The Rescue and Satanic Frog Gods

March 22nd, 2022 | Robin

Recommended

Nobody (Film, US, Ilya Naishuller, 2021) A late-night break-in triggers nobody Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) to go looking for trouble. He finds it on a bus, unleashing a classical, even layered, fight scene. Almost deconstructed revenge thriller becomes nearly operatic at times, though Odenkirk’s humanity prevents complete departure into Wickian sturm-und-drang. Excessive needle drops typify Naishuller’s occasional try-too-hard-ness, but at bottom it’s good clean blunt-traumatic fun. –KH

The Rescue (Film, US, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, 2021) Armed with computer animation, studio recreations, direct to camera interviews and a trove of previously unseen Thai navy footage, this documentary tick-tocks the harrowing 2018 rescue of a kid’s soccer team from a flooded cavern network. The unifying psychodynamics of the cave diving hobby supply the emotional throughline for a step-by-step of a process even hairier and more astounding than contemporary news accounts could convey.—RDL

Sleep Tight (Film, Spain, Jaume Balagueró, 2011) Anhedonic concierge (Luis Tosar) uses his access to the apartments in his building to covertly stalk a young woman (Marta Etura.) Disturbing psychological thriller told as a slow burn character study of its deviant antagonist.—RDL

Spider-Man: No Way Home (Film, US, Jon Watts, 2021) Peter Parker (Tom Holland) destabilizes the multiverse by messing with Dr. Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) spell to make the world forget his secret identity, bringing denizens of other Spider-realities to dimension MCU. What on paper ought to be a cynical, derivative fan service mishmosh instead delivers momentum, a sprightly attitude, and poignant moments, all stemming from a deep and detailed love of all things Spidey. As I always say, magic makes plots work.—RDL

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 (Television, US, Paramount+, 2020-2021) Newly comfortable in her far-future captain’s chair, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) leads the effort to understand a planet-smashing spatial anomaly. Four seasons in, the show now feels fully like Trek—this time dialing up the therapeutic thread of Roddenberry’s original TNG conception, updated from 80s self-actualization to today’s questions of trauma and representation.—RDL

Bizarrely Compelling

Psychomania (Film, UK, Don Sharp, 1973) Biker gang leader Tommy (Nicky Henson) pries the secret of resurrection out of his mediumistic mother (Beryl Reid) and her butler Shadwell (George Sanders) who may or may not be Satan. Is this film Good, Actually? No. Did it make George Sanders commit suicide immediately after filming it? Probably not. Could we at any time take the grins off our face while watching the feckless Living Dead biker gang somewhat terrorize Walton-on-Thames? We could not. Standing stones, burial mounds, Satanic frog gods, weaksauce motorcycles, and a hippie song by Chopped Meat? Yes, to all of that. –KH

Okay

Hit! (Film, US, Sidney J. Furie, 1973) Determined CIA operative (Billy Dee Williams) responds to his daughter’s overdose death by assembling an unlikely team for a rogue operation to wipe out the top leaders of the Marseille heroin ring. From its American New Wave realist vibe to a string of striking chase and murder sequences, this is effective on a cinematic level, but on the textual level full of “wait, what?” moments that grow in absurdity the more you think about them. Not the least of which is the central proposition that exterminating a single cartel would appreciably help American addicts.—RDL

Not Recommended

Behind the Crimson Blind (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1952) Sir Henry Merrivale helps the police in Tangier solve the mystery of the burglar Iron Chest, in a novel that tells you two things: Carr really wanted to write off his stay in Tangier, and he was getting almost as tired of Merrivale as I am. The local color and a bit of the detection work, but for my money this may be Carr’s worst novel even before the leaden ethnic humor really kicks in. –KH

Le Professional (Film, France, Georges Lautner, 1981) After two years in an African prison camp, a wily SDECE assassin (Jean-Paul Belmondo) escapes to Paris to exact revenge on both the dictator he was sent to kill and the ex-colleagues who sold him out. Loosey-goosey spy thriller with a decidedly French take on the weaselly superiors trope would rate an “Okay” rating if its 80s trashiness didn’t include a helping of blatant racism.—RDL

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