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Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Sandman, Prey, and a Rock Journalism Icon

August 16th, 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.

Recommended

Prey (Film, US, Dan Trachtenberg, 2022) In 1719 Wyoming, young Comanche woman Naru (Amber Midthunder) attempts the ceremonial hunt of an unknown invisible monster. This installment of the Predator series (for indeed it is he) works so well and so naturally not just because of the great monster-hunting set-pieces but because the natural, vivid character building of Naru and her brother (Dakota Beavers) also build the reality of the frontier world the Predator irrupts into. Easily the second-best of the series. –KH

The Sandman Season 1 (Television, US, Netflix, Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer & Allan Heinberg, 2022) Freed after more than a century of earthly captivity, the king of dreams (Tom Sturridge) repairs his neglected realm and hunts for its escaped inhabitants, most notably the serial killer called the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook.) A cornerstone of Gen X geek culture receives a thoughtfully crafted prestige television treatment, wisely adapting two of the comics series arcs instead of interminably dragging out the first one. Sturridge embodies his role so well that I caught myself thinking, “Wow, his walk is exactly like in the comics.”—RDL

Good

Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres (Film, US, Suzanne Kai, 2021) Appropriately admiring documentary profiles the groundbreaking rock journalist and editor, depicting him as a talented, disciplined mensch and trailblazer for the Chinese-American community.—RDL

Penthouse (Film, US, W. S. van Dyke, 1933) Aided by a virtuous bad girl (Myrna Loy), a maverick defense attorney fights to clear his ex-fiancee’s new beau of a bogus murder charge. Investigative lawyer crime drama rises above its routine script through zippy direction and Loy’s screen magnetism.—RDL

Okay

Foreign Intrigue (Film, US, Sheldon Reynolds, 1956) Self-assured PR man (Robert Mitchum) investigates the source of his mysterious dead client’s mysterious wealth. Alternately compelling and awkward Hitchcockian spy flick. Make the client a vampire and you have a great premise for a Night’s Black Agents Solo Ops scenario.—RDL

Not Recommended

Historical Atlas of the World (Nonfiction, Ludwig Könemann (ed.), 2010) Constructed pedagogically, its 1,200 maps dropping from general overview to increasingly specific (especially in Europe, where almost every country gets mapped back to antiquity, but about a third of the maps cover non-European countries), anchored by timelines and brief encyclopedia entries, this should have been great. However somewhere between Slovakian mappers, German editors, and English translators, an enormous number of mistakes appear: its best pedagogical use would be to turn a class of bright high-schoolers loose on it to correct every error of fact or misprision of style. For extra credit they could suggest and draw useful maps omitted to make room for the third or fourth depiction of the Frankish successor kingdoms. –KH

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