Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Fabelmans, Glass Onion, and Premonitions of Doom

December 27th, 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.


The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories (Fiction, Ernest Bramah [E.F. Bleiler, ed.], 1972) Blinded by an accident, wealthy dilettante Max Carrados trains his remaining senses to their highest pitch and solves crimes. Bleiler selects ten of the 26 Carrados tales written between 1913 and 1927 for this collection, which ably display the wit, arch social commentary, and skill with character that Bramah embodies in his best works. The mysteries per se more resemble Holmesian prestidigitation than the Golden Age standard, but Carrados’ charms make up for structural sleight-of-hand. –KH

The Fabelmans (Film, US, Steven Spielberg, 2022) Through the lens of his moviemaking obsession, a precocious teen (Gabriel Labelle) spots the fault lines in the marriage between his earnest, technically-minded father (Paul Dano) and thwarted, exuberant mother (Michelle Williams.) Spielberg uses his love language, the larger-than-life acting, grammar, and gloss of 50s Technicolor spectaculars, to pay autobiographical tribute to his parents.—RDL

The Premonitions Bureau (Nonfiction, Sam Knight, 2022) 60s British psychiatrist John Barker, an experimenter with aversion therapy who tried to reform the snakepit mental hospital that employed him, studies psychosomatic death and establishes, with an Evening Standard science reporter, a project to document premonitions of disaster to see if they come true. Vivid reporting with contextualizing discursions tells a tale of real life Serlingesque ironic doom.—RDL


Glass Onion (Film, US, Rian Johnson, 2022) Billionaire Miles Bron (Ed Norton) invites five people with motives for murder to his remote island, but fortunately detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) joins the party. Two acts delightfully deconstructing a Christie classic setup (down to the broadly ridiculous characters; Kate Hudson exceeds herself) hit tonal and thematic crosswinds by act three. The result: a messier, less clever sequel. –KH

Glass Onion (Film, US, Rian Johnson, 2022) Master detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) receives a mysterious invitation to a murder mystery weekend on a Greek island, thrown by a self-mythologizing tech billionaire (Ed Norton) for his circle of besties. The first act is such a beguiling contemplation of cinematic glamor and charismatic bitchiness that the arrival of genre plot demands in the second act takes it down a notch.—RDL

Rhubarb (Film, US, Arthur Lubin, 1951) Harried PR man (Ray Milland) becomes the reluctant guardian to a feisty cat (Orangey) whose inherited business empire includes an underdog baseball team. Comic fable from the production team behind Miracle on 34th Street serves up its obstacles somewhat haphazardly, but knows to keep returning to its central gag, the truculence of the titular feline.—RDL

Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen (Film, Japan, Takeshi Kitano, 2015) Bored by the humiliations of old age and retirement, a crew of ex-yakuza assembles to take on a new breed of post-yakuza gangsters. Kitano recasts his fatalistic take on the gangster flick as a agreeably shambling comedy.—RDL


Love Is News (Film, US, Tay Garnett, 1937) Irked by her tabloid fodder status, a charming heiress (Loretta Young) gives a tricksy reporter (Tyrone Power) a taste of his own medicine by announcing her engagement to him. Breezy screwball comedy with Don Ameche bringing extra brio to the standard role of a tantrum-throwing newspaper editor.—RDL

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