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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Stolen Game Pieces and a Split Party

March 17th, 2020 | 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

American Made (Film, US, Doug Liman, 2019) Charming dope of a TWA pilot (Tom Cruise) goes off on his own to fly for the CIA, Medellin cartel, and other clients in need of a seat-of-the-pants smuggling fleet. Breezy crime/espionage biopic reconfigures the trajectory of the classic Cruise striver character to a series of upward failures toward inevitable comeuppance.—RDL

The Clowns (Film, Italy, Federico Fellini, 1970) Staged documentary sequences complement performance set pieces as the famed director inquires into the history of European clowning. Alternating the wistful with the anarchic, this essay film provides a corrective to the notion that there’s anything off-model about a disturbing clown.—RDL

Die Vol 2: Split the Party (Comics, Image, Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans, 2020) Trapped in the world of Die not by their malevolent ex-GM but by their own divisions, our heroes recombine and re-split while uncovering another layer of the world’s origin. Having built compelling characters in a fantasy game and game-world, Gillen reaps the story rewards of clashing personalities while deepening and strangefying his world. Hans’ versatile art pulls out all the stops, a toccata of story and craft in ideal complement. –KH

Forced Perspectives (Fiction, Tim Powers, 2020) Former Secret Service agent Vickery and TUA operative Castine re-unite when a tech guru gets hold of Egyptian magicks to restart a God-mind project that went somehow wrong in 1926 and 1968. This sequel to Alternate Routes feels more like a standard Powers novel than that one, which went big on the fantasy at the cost of some coherence. This novel’s relatively constrained high concept and cast of fucked-up (and fuckup) villains puts us (and Powers) back in the scope and zone he’s been working comfortably since Expiration Date. –KH

Invention for Destruction (Film, Czechoslovakia, Karel Zeman, 1958) Kidnapped by submariner pirates, the assistant to a naive scientist realizes he must keep them from taking over the world with his super-weapon. Stylized sets and an array of animation techniques reproduce the look of a 19th century engraving in this must-see for any steampunk enthusiast. Based on the lesser known Jules Verne novel Facing the Flag, alternately known as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne and a clear influence on Brothers Quay and The Life Aquatic.—RDL

McMillion$ (Television, US, HBO,  Brian David Lazarte, 2020) Documentary miniseries follows FBI investigators and a tough prosecutor as they unravel a late 90s / early 2000s conspiracy to divert every single high-dollar prize from the McDonalds Monopoly game. Although it develops a weird sentimental streak toward one of its unsavory characters, I’m nonetheless recommending this as an entertaining deep dive on contemporary investigative techniques useful to any GUMSHOE GM.—RDL

Good

Madam Satan (Film, US, Cecil B. DeMille, 1930) A society wife’s efforts to win back her philandering husband get decidedly weird when she adopts the titular persona at a masked ball on a tethered dirigible. Tepid farce shifts into the utterly bizarro at the halfway mark, as we’ve all come to expect from musical comedy art deco disaster movies.—RDL

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