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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Irishman and Other Criminals

November 12th, 2019 | 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.

Ken was unavailable to consume media this week, due to a mission in space.

The Pinnacle

The Irishman (Film, US, Martin Scorsese, 2019) Obliging hit man Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) becomes confidant and factotum to Pennsylvania mob boss Russ Buffalino (Joe Pesci) and then labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino.) Subdued formal control and absurdist humor predominate as Scorsese’s gangland cycle culminates and merges with his contemplative religious films. Absolutely worth seeing on a big screen if you can.—RDL

Recommended

The Florida Project (Film, US, Sean Baker, 2017) Under the eye of its beleaguered manager (Willem Dafoe) an adorable grade school hellion (Brooklynn Pierce) makes her Orlando motel complex a playground, as her authority-defying mother (Bria Vinaite) turns to increasingly desperate means of paying the rent. Irrepressible kid hijinks and a zowie color palette leaven the usual bleakness of the fly-on-the-wall social problem drama.—RDL

Widows (Film, US, Steve McQueen, 2018) Backed against the wall after their husbands die in a heist, a no-nonsense teacher’s union official (Viola Davis) recruits the grieving partners of his crew (Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki) to pull off his next planned job. Tough crime drama set in the world of corrupt Chicago politics offers a master class in executing a complicated set-up without a whiff of over-explanation.—RDL

Good

Woman in Witness Protection (Film, Japan, Juzo Itami, 1997) Mismatched cops protect a fading actress (Nobuko Miyamoto) after she witnesses a cult murder. The director’s final film follows his central formula, in which kooky comedy sweetens a confrontation with intimidating, lawless power.—RDL

Okay

Out of Print (Film, US, Julia Marchese, 2014) Documentary homage to L.A.’s New Beverly Cinema, directed by a member of its staff, celebrates its role in film culture before moving on to lament the demise of 35 mm film print distribution. My biggest surprise was to discover how modest a house it is compared to its Toronto equivalents.—RDL

Raw Deal (Film, US, Anthony Mann, 1948) Hardbitten gal (Claire Travor) helps her man (Dennis O’Keefe) bust out of prison only to see him fall for the idealistic paralegal (Marsha Hunt) they’ve taken hostage. Atmospheric, brutal noir hobbled by the casting of the patrician Trevor as a gun-toting product of the skids.—RDL

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