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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Latest Johnnie To and Foundational New Folk Horror

August 25th, 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

Chasing Dream (Film, HK, Johnnie To, 2019) Brash MMA fighter hoping to get out (Jacky Heung) falls for a pop idol contestant (Keru Wang) with a score to settle. Loud, broad, colorful and kinetic, this is ostensibly one of To’s commercial romances for the home market, with a meta level of genre play for himself and his auteur fans. Is it a fight flick? No! Is it a talent contest flick? No! It’s a fight contest flick and a talent contest flick!—RDL

The Corporation (Nonfiction, T. J. English, 2018) José Miguel Battle Sr. murders and schemes his way through 20th century Cuban and American history as he rises from cop in the Batista regime to Bay of Pigs invader to numbers kingpin in New York and Miami. Incisive evocation of a criminal milieu centered around a larger than life figure who consciously models himself on Coppola’s The Godfather.—RDL

A Field in England (Film, UK, Ben Wheatley, 2013) During the English Civil War, a cross-section of the English class system (Reece Shearsmith, Ryan Pope, Peter Ferdinando, Richard Glover) falls afoul of a paranatural field, its wild mushrooms, and an Irish sorcerer (Michael Smiley). It takes quite the chutzpah to set an experimental-New Wave-psychedelic film in the 1640s and make it a folk horror bottle drama, but Laurie Rose’s gorgeous, bleak black-and-white cinematography pulls all these disparate parts together. Foundational film of the New Folk Horror. –KH

Fleishman is in Trouble (Fiction, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, 2019) Tightly wound New York hepatologist spirals after initiating a divorce from a driven, status-obsessed talent agent. Brings contemporary detail, from dating apps to Minecraft, and most notably a feminist perspective, to the Philip Roth lane of American novel writing.—RDL

Vice and Virtue (Film, France, Roger Vadim, 1963) During the Nazi occupation, a mercenary young woman cozies up to German sugar daddies as her sheltered sister (Catherine Deneuve) is captured for her Resistance ties. Vadim’s glossy fetishist’s eye was never put to better use than in this examination of the sweaty perviness underlying Nazism.—RDL

Good

The Booksellers (Film, US, D.W. Young, 2020) Asking the questions “Where is antiquarian bookselling now, and where is it going?” but more interested in the conversation and the decor than the answers, this documentary teeters on the edge of self-indulgence. At its best when dealing with the nitty-gritty of the hunt and the sale (or when talking to Fran Lebowitz), it often worries pointlessly about questions of representation that it does nothing really to tackle. Still, worth watching for Bookhounds, and for Bookhounds of London players and GMs. –KH

Homecoming Season 1 (Television, US, Sam Esmail, Prime, 2018) Harried Florida waitress (Julia Roberts) resists the efforts of a dogged investigator (Shea Whigham) to uncover her past career as a counselor in an experimental treatment program for returned veterans, where she bonded with an affable young soldier (Stephan James.) Brings committed performances and an intriguing dour style to a narrative Rod Serling would have dispatched in a brisk 23 minutes.—RDL

Okay

Illang: the Wolf Brigade (Film, South Korea, Kim Jee-woon, 2018) In a grim near future, traumatized tactical team cop (Dong-Won Gang) and slain terrorist’s sister (Hyo-joo Han) become pawns in a power struggle between his squad and the Interior Ministry. Live action anime remake bogs down its stirring action sequences with overcomplicated storytelling.—RDL

2 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Latest Johnnie To and Foundational New Folk Horror”

  1. Justin Mohareb says:

    Just a heads up that I’ve compiled the Pinnacle films in a list on Letterboxed:
    https://letterboxd.com/thebitterguy/list/ken-and-robin-talk-about-stuff-pinnacle-films/

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