Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Sandman, X, Only Murders, and the Making of Midnight Cowboy

October 4th, 2022 | Robin


Lucy and Desi (Film, US, Amy Poehler, 2022) Dual documentary biography uses archival footage and new interviews to depict the increasingly fractured creative partnership and marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. As he is lesser known, the major revelations concern Arnaz, brilliant self-taught TV producer who realized he hated the job.—RDL

Only Murders in the Building Season 2 (Television, US, Hulu, Steve Martin & John Hoffman, 2022) Framed for murder, the trio of podcasters (Martin, Martin Short, & Selena Gomez) investigate (sort of) in between personal entanglements. As if recognizing that this murder is a far weaker mystery than the last one, the series examines individual lives (including its leads’) with more nuance. While that means less side-splitting humor than Season 1, it keeps tone and energy up, and stays Recommended. –KH

Perfect Blue (Film, Japan, Satoshi Kon, 1998) When pop idol Mima (Junko Iwao) abandons her girl group for an acting career, exploitation and murderous stalking break down her  boundaries between reality and fiction. Kon deliberately flattens and confuses the animated image, on top of a nested film-within-a-film, for a vertiginous experience that only loses steam just before its relatively straight conclusion. –KH

Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic (Nonfiction, Glenn Frankel, 2021) Deeply researched account of the making of the iconic film expansively covers all of its creative participants, from novelist Jim Herlihy to behind the scenes creators and bit players. A sweeping cultural study of gay writing and film in the burgeoning days of the liberation movement adds a layer of significance.—RDL


The Sandman Season 1 (Television, Netflix, Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer, and Allan Heinberg, 2022) After being trapped by a cranky magician (Charles Dance) for a century, Dream (Tom Sturridge) sets about rebuilding his kingdom. If you loved the comic, this “Allan Heinberg reads Sandman to you slowly” experience pretty much works, despite some dire stagy direction. Supporting cast Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), Dee (David Thewlis), and the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook) pump in needed energy at intervals. If you don’t know the comic, this probably is not where to start. –KH

X (Film, US, Ti West, 2022) In 1979, aspiring porn star Maxine (Mia Goth) and her producer boyfriend Wayne (Martin Henderson) rent a lodging house on a remote Texas farm to film their skin flick, to the eventual consternation of the aged couple in residence. West blends his skillful 1970s slasher pastiche with very effective modern shots and absolutely no subtlety in his equation of Eros and Thanatos and the role of the gaze in both. Efficient, but not brilliant. –KH


Censor (Film, UK, Prano Bailey-Bond, 2021) During the 80s UK “video nasty” flap, a withdrawn censorship board employee (Niamh Algar) sees a connection between a horror film she’s been assigned to evaluate and her sister’s childhood disappearance. Dread-filled character piece lights a controlled slow burn, but slips in the third act shift from moody meta-comment on our relationship to horror films into a regular horror film.—RDL

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