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Ken and Robin Consume Media: That Guy You Like Grimly Punches That Other Guy You Like

April 5th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Love  Season 1 (TV, Netflix Original, 2016) Dorky on-set tutor (Paul Rust) and radio producer with a troubled past (Gillian Jacobs) awkwardly grapple with their unlikely attraction. We’ve seen the nerdy, anxious male character a ton of times, but it’s the fully dimensioned way the female lead is presented, and a general sense of observational realism, that puts this comedy of discomfort on a higher plane.—RDL

Recommended

Hardcore Henry (Film, Russia, Ilya Naishuller, 2016) Newly awakened cyborg super-soldier shoots, punches, parkours and rail-guns his way through a legion of mooks to stop a telekinetic villain from assembling a world-conquering army. Every time you think this crazypants high-action extravaganza, shot entirely in POV, has gone up to eleven, it finds a whole new eleven.—RDL (seen at TIFF ‘15, when it was just called Hardcore; now in North American theatrical release)

Love & Mercy (Film, US, Bill Pohlad, 2015) 1960s Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) creates his greatest music as mental illness takes an increasing hold on him; his new car salesman girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) discovers that 1980s Brian Wilson (John Cusack) has been crushed by the influence of his control freak psychiatrist/legal guardian. Breaking the Wilson story into two parts, intertwining music biopic and escape melodrama, ably takes on the challenges of adapting a complicated life to film.—RDL

Narcos Season 1 (TV, Netflix Original, 2015) Crime drama follows the efforts of two DEA agents to take down Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) from 1981 to 1992. Moura’s slow-boiling charisma anchors the series — the gringos are thinner characters — against a robust verité backdrop of tech, politics, Colombian locations, and criminal empire-building. –KH

Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (Film, US, John Lee, 2016) Pee Wee breaks out of his small town rut for a perilous journey to New York City to attend the birthday party of newfound friend, actor Joe Manganiello. Return of a classic character strikes the requisite balance between ironic sincerity and sincere irony.—RDL

Good

Elsie Venner (Fiction, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, 1861) Handsome schoolmaster suspects that the eerily beautiful student nursing an unrequited yen for him might just be a lamia. Aggressive skimming of its overwritten passages of description and authorial pontificating reveals an oddly compelling uncanny tale in a romantic, American gothic mode.—RDL

Not Recommended

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Film, US, Zack Snyder, 2016) Reinterpreting the DC Universe as essentially Christianized Norse myth isn’t illegitimate, but you still need a script that makes sense and ideally more functioning scenes than one rescue and one fight. That said, the score (Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL), Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), and most of all Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) occasionally lift BVS out of the dumpster fire that writer David S. Goyer lit and Snyder fanned. –KH

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