Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Suicide Squad, Norm Macdonald, Werner Herzog

September 28th, 2021 | 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.


Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir (Fiction, Norm Macdonald, 2016) Burying its emotional truth amid packs of lies, Macdonald’s deconstructed celebrity memoir calls to mind influences as varied as Hunter S. Thompson, Nabokov, and Alice Munro, while also being intermittently hilarious. Those who know Macdonald’s standup will recognize some recycled bits, and those who followed his career will see a kind of funhouse reflection of it, all in his inimitable voice. –KH

Family Romance LLC (Film, US, Werner Herzog, 2019) Sensitive entrepreneur (Ishii Yuichi) who runs an agency allowing people to hire actors to pose as their family members connects with a preteen (Mahiro Tanimoto) whose mother has hired him to stand in for her father. Serene, semi-improvised drama complete with the discursions Herzogians will recognize from his recent documentary work.—RDL

Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema (Film, Taiwan, 2014) Documentary survey of the eighties cinematic movement focuses mostly on its influence on filmmakers and critics around the world, which makes sense when it gets to the end and one discovers how little Tsai Ming-Liang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien wish to say about it. My favorite interview snippet is Apichatpong Weerasethakul praises the way these movies put him to sleep, and inspired him to make films that have the same effect.—RDL

Invisible Life (Film, Brazil, James Chressanthis, 2019) In 1950s Rio, two sisters suffer separation when their father casts one of them out for coming home pregnant without the husband, telling the other that she’s vanished. Visceral, moving novel adaptation interweaves parallel storylines of women confronting patriarchal attitudes and the demands and betrayals of the body.—RDL

La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) (Film, France, Jacques Deray, 1969) The arrival of a libertinish old mutual and his lissome daughter (Jane Birkin) interrupts the St. Tropez villa idyll of a failed novelist (Alain Delon) and a languid journalist (Romy Schneider.) Sun-soaked quadrangle of envy and lust treats the extreme hotness of Delon and Schneider as a formalist challenge.—RDL

The Suicide Squad (Film, US, James Gunn, 2021) Weapons master Bloodsport (Idris Elba) leads a crew of convict supervillains including Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) to attack a secret installation on a Latin American nation now in the hands of an anti-American junta. Kudos to Gunn for convincing an entertainment megaconglomerate to underwrite the most lavish, gleefully nihilistic midnight cult flick ever.—RDL

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