Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Succession, Barry, and Fast X

May 30th, 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

Succession Season 4 (Television, US, HBO, Jesse Armstrong, 2023) An inevitable surprise development leaves Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) struggling against and alongside one another for control of Waystar-Royco in the wake of Mattson’s (Alexander Skarsgard) takeover offer. Takes time for character moments both empathetic and razor-edged as it rattles through its compressed timeline to a fitting well-scheduled conclusion.—RDL


Barry Season 4 (Television, US, HBO, Bill Hader and Alec Berg, 2023) Chickens come home to roost after an imprisoned Barry (Hader) and Fuches (Steven Root) turn on one another. A left-field midseason gambit unsettles expectations as our hitman protagonist faces inevitable punishment, along with the audience that has been trained to root for him.—RDL

Barry Season 4 (Television, US, HBO, Bill Hader and Alec Berg, 2023) The final season opens with hitman Barry (Bill Hader) in jail and the rest of the cast in flux. Where they come down is the question the series answers, according to its abiding moral principle: honesty. That doesn’t make for comfort viewing, and the jokes are thin on the ground, but it’s a compelling ending to a terrific show. —KH

Taylor Tomlinson: Look at You (Standup, Netflix, Kristin Mercado, 2022) Tomlinson returns with a more revelatory, personal set focusing on her mental health – and the best jokes include “six minutes on my dead mom” and about wait times on a suicide hotline. She’s great at incorporating her physical stance and movement as part of her delivery, as well as the timing and vocal control I highlighted last review. –KH

Who I Am (Nonfiction, Pete Townsend, 2012) Guitarist/songwriter for The Who critically assesses his personal failures amid the artistic triumphs of his decades-long rock god career. Lucid account of the collision between a compulsive, addictive personality and the temptations of the arena rock era.—RDL


He Thief, She Thief (Film, Italy, Luigi Zampa, 1958) Determined young woman from the literal wrong side of the tracks (Sylva Koscina) must choose between a charming ex-con from the neighborhood (Alberto Sordi) or the handsome, apparently decent new boss (Ettore Manni.) Koscina is the protagonist of this amiable comedy of class mobility, but Sordi is the star, which becomes a problem when the second act abandons her throughline for his con-man hijinks.—RDL


Ant Man & the Wasp: Quantumania (Film, US, Peyton Reed, 2023) Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and the ant family are sucked into a subatomic realm, where they confront exiled time warlord Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors.) Checks the boxes on almost all of the flaws of recent MCU outings, so I’ll pick just one to mention: it takes more than an hour to give the protagonist his goal.—RDL


Fast X (Film, US, Louis Leterrier, 2023) Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) seeks to punish Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) for the death of Dante’s father in Fast Five by attacking … his family (!!). After 141 minutes of inane dialogue, mediocre CGI instead of cool car stunts, unearned callbacks to the first nine better films, and halting, nervous direction, we’re basically back where we started except all 23 characters have been introduced. Momoa’s decision to play his villain for extreme camp is at least something fun to watch. –KH

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