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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Pulp Tarot, All the Old Knives, RRR, and a Tale of Two Hunts

April 12th, 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 Pinnacle

The Pulp Tarot (Tarot deck, Todd Alcott, 2021) This full 78-card tarot deck translates the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of 1910 from its medieval mythology to the modern mythology of 20th-century pulp cover art. Alcott montages together several hundred source images to build a visually exciting, surprisingly deep set of arcana that genuinely honor and update the masterpieces of Pamela Colman Smith (and A.E. Waite) while sparking the imagination of the postmodern querent. Absolutely one of the three or four best Tarots I own. –KH [Note: The deck sells out fast. Follow Todd on Twitter @toddalcott to find out when a new print run goes on sale.]

Recommended

All the Old Knives (Film, US, Janus Metz, 2022) When new information indicates a mole in the Vienna CIA station fed intel to terrorists during a 2012 hijacking, CIA agent Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) meets his former colleague (and ex) Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton) to uncover the truth. Very old-school spy film takes advantage of spartan COVID filming constraints to focus on Pine and Newton, their chemistry, and their enormous acting-as-lying skills: it’s essentially a two-hander dinner scene with flashbacks. Truth be told, it could probably have used one more twist, but it’s beautiful and unsettling enough as is. –KH

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (Film, US, Richard Linklater, 2022) Young Stan (Milo Coy) either has a very active imagination or gets recruited for a secret Apollo mission in early summer of 1969. At times, this delightful animated reminiscence threatens to just become a list of late-60s childhood signifiers, which might drop the film down to Good for those not blessed with a late-60s childhood. The narrative through-line, such as it is, works more by impression than progression, but did I want to see about four hours more of Stan’s family? Yes indeed, so something besides my own Space Age childhood and my love for Linklater may be at work here. –KH

House of Hummingbird (Film, South Korea, Bora Kim, 2019) Teenager looks for emotional connection outside of life cooped up with her alienated, abusive family. Beautifully rendered drama sets aside coming-of-age cliches through a character who starts out understanding life’s hard lessons.—RDL

The Hunt (Film, Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg, 2012) Community turns against a kindergarten teacher (Mads Mikkelsen) after he is mistakenly accused of abusing a student. Incisive, impeccably scripted drama revolves around the extraordinary special effect we know as Mads Mikkelsen.—RDL

RRR (Film, India, S.S. Rajamouli, 2022) When the hated British steal a Gond girl in 1920, Gond tribal protector Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao, Jr.) goes after her and only Indian Army officer Rama Raju (Ram Charan) can stop him. Spoiler: They team up and fight the hated British together. High-octane, literally super-patriotic action extravaganza presents a fictional team-up of two historical anti-British freedom fighters: much as if Michael Bay made a movie about Paul Revere and Francis Marion teaming up in 1765. Never a dull moment, and the CGI animals look better than most MCU fights. The human fights, meanwhile, hit a new high for Tollywood. –KH

Good

Aimless Bullet (Film, South Korea, Yu Hyun-mok, 1961) Two brothers, embittered veterans discarded by the society they saved, suffer in the slums of Seoul. Neorealist drama goes from bleak to brutal.—RDL

Torch Singer (Film, US, George Somnes & Alexander Hall, 1933) Notorious club singer (Claudette Colbert) becomes the host of a radio program for kiddies, enabling her to search for the daughter she put up for adoption. Colbert’s star power carries this rather easily resolved melodrama, aided by the swelegant dresses of costume designer Travis Banton.—RDL

Okay

The Hunt (Film, US, Craig Zobel, 2020) One stoic woman (Betty Gilpin) shows that she’s the wrong person to mess with when an assortment of red state Americans wake up in a forest to find they are being hunted for sport. Variant on The Most Dangerous Game makes mysteries both of its situation, and the screenplay’s satirical point. Spoiler: it’s fatuous.—RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Pulp Tarot, All the Old Knives, RRR, and a Tale of Two Hunts”

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