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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Time Travel, Zora Neale Hurston and the Russian Mob

April 24th, 2018 | 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

Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story (Comics, Peter Bagge, 2017) Straight-up biography in (well-endnoted) comics form of anthropologist, novelist, folklorist Hurston, the most glorious maverick of the Harlem Renaissance. Bagge doesn’t try to find a through-line except in Hurston’s mercurial personality, which is probably for the best as her prose can’t be condensed to comics and her politics shouldn’t be. –KH

Source Code (Film, US/France, Duncan Jones, 2011) U.S. Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens on a commuter train headed for Chicago, sitting across from a stranger (Michelle Monaghan) who seems to know him. And then he does it again. A tasty blend of thriller, science fiction, and Groundhog Day that just plain works — everybody does a great job filming a script that moves more than fast enough to deliver the Dickian mindscrew at its core. –KH

Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia (Nonfiction, Mark Galeotti, 2018) Traces the evolution of organized crime in Russia from pre-WWI horse thieves to Stalin’s bandit pals, and on to gulag-hardened recalcitrants, the regime-favored trusties who violently broke them, the trigger-happy turf-grabbers of the wild 90s and the finally the hybrid businessman-gangsters of today. Punchy subtitle notwithstanding, this admirably focused, engagingly written survey looks at its subject matter through a demythologizing lens.—RDL (Full Disclosure: In his time off from interviewing Chechen hit men, the author is One of Us, and a KARTAS Patreon backer.)

Wild Wild Country (Television, Netflix, Chapman Way & Maclain Way, 2018) Docuseries recounts the rise and fall of the free-loving, gun-toting, salmonella-weaponizing Rajneeshpuram religious community in rural Oregon. A rippling score by Brocker Way adds tension to the archival footage/modern interview format, as the artifacting of deteriorated video footage underline a chaos of conflicting perspectives.—RDL

Good

Cash on Demand (Film, UK, Quentin Lawrence, 1961) Persnickety, dare I say Scrooge-like, bank manager Fordyce (Peter Cushing) learns what’s really important when a roguish bank robber (Andre Morell) uses him in a clockwork heist. Real-time tension counterpoints Cushing’s superb portrayal of a man disintegrating under pressure. I would not disagree if other viewers’ temperament upgrades it to Recommended. –KH

White God (Film, Hungary, Kornél Mundruczó, 2014) Tossed out on the side of a highway road by his adoring owner’s loser dad, Hagen the mixed-breed suffers mistreatment, including a stint as a fighting dog, before leading a city-wide canine kill spree against his oppressors. Allegorical drama with arthouse style and an exploitation heart.—RDL

Okay

The Deadly Companions (Film, US, Sam Peckinpah, 1961) After accidentally shooting her child in a gunfight with outlaws, a tortured Union veteran (Brian Keith) delays his mission of vengeance to make himself an unwelcome bodyguard to a dance hall performer (Maureen O’Hara.) In his first directorial outing, Peckinpah introduces a bracing moral grottiness unusual for a studio western of the period, but shows little affinity for the script’s central hostility-to-affection romantic arc.—RDL

Kodachrome (Film, US, Mark Raso, 2018) Struggling A&R guy (Jason Sudeikis) reluctantly agrees to a road trip with his estranged, dying famous photographer dad (Ed Harris) and his nurse (Elizabeth Olsen.) RIYL strong performances and obvious story developments.—RDL

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