Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Velvets and Vourdalaks

February 6th, 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.

The Pinnacle

Phantom Thread (Film, Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017) A young woman (Vicky Krieps). the latest mode//lover to a tempermental fashion designer (Daniel Day Lewis), determines to surmount his plethora of emotional barriers, many of them abetted by his sister/business partner (Lesley Manville.) Sumptuous, sly exploration of the roles power and dependency play in love.—RDL


Birdland (Film, Canada, Peter Lynch, 2018) Cop undergoes  interrogation when her ornithologist husband is implicated in the murder of his mistress. Deconstructed crime drama with stylized acting, set in a version of Cronenberg’s noir Toronto updated to our new architectural era of coldly illuminated glass and steel.—RDL

The Night of the Devils (Film, Italy, Giorgio Ferroni, 1972) When his car breaks down in a remote Geman forest, a blindly rational lumber buyer takes refuge with a family of recluses just as they start to systematically vampirize one another. Modernized adaptation of Tolstoy’s The Family of the Vourdalak combines the literary atmospherics of the 60s gothic cycle with 70s gore and nudity.—RDL

Rocco and His Brothers (Film, Italy, Luchino Visconti, 1960) Strife tears apart a family of impoverished southern migrants to Milan when two of the brothers, violent wastrel Simone (Renato Salvatori) and saintly-to-a-fault Rocco (Alain Delon), in turn become involved with a worldly streetwalker (Annie Girardot.) Neorealist drama takes its time to set up its core situation, in a pacing choice showing its origins as a novel adaptation. Hold off on buying a copy until the freshly restored pristine 4K print appears on disc.—RDL


Playing Dead: a Journey Through the World of Death Fraud (Nonfiction, Elizabeth Greenwood, 2016) The author researches people who fake their demises and the investigators who track them down, then travels to the Philippines to acquire her own death certificate. Tour of the logistical and psychological limitations of pseudocide deals out its facts in a voice both confessional and tongue-in-cheek.—RDL

Not Recommended

Maudie (Film, Canada/Ireland, Aisling Walsh, 2017) Withdrawn woman (Sally Hawkins) breaks from her family’s protective disregard to move in with a reclusive fishmonger (Ethan Hawke), becoming an internationally recognized folk artist. Biopic of painter Maud Lewis arouses pity not for the characters, but for the actors, whose director betrays them by calling “print” on labored, tic-ridden performances. Canadian films often sentimentally idealize rural life or depict it as a grotesque hell; this does both!—RDL

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