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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Verbal Fireworks in Deadwood and Greece

June 30th, 2020 | 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

Bell, Book and Candle (Film, US, Richard Quine, 1958) Greenwich Village witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) selfishly ensorcels her neighbor Shep Henderson (Jimmy Stewart) only to find true love rearing its head. If you can get over Stewart being twice Novak’s age (which only works in Vertigo because it’s a creepy stalker story) this weird kind-of beat, kind-of-dark romcom has a lot going for it, including Jack Lemmon as Gillian’s brother, James Wong Howe’s underplayed but brilliant lensing, and the Oscar-winning costumes by Jean Louis. Kim Novak is always cool and wonderful, and Kim Novak with a cat, well, abracadabra! –KH

Deadwood: the Movie (Film, US, Daniel Minahan, 2019) Ten years after Swearingen (Ian McShane) faked Trixie’s (Paula Malcolmson) death to protect her from George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) , the psychopathic magnate returns to Deadwood to again flout the ire of Sheriff Bullock (Timothy Olyphant.) Belated, unexpectedly sweet  wrap-up to the groundbreakingly foul-mouthed HBO western benefits from the concision of the movie format.—RDL

The Trip to Greece (Film, UK, Michael Winterbottom, 2020) Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s semi-fictional personae reunite for one last feast of gourmet cuisine, celebrity impressions, and razzing. The higher stakes of the finale, and the intermittent conceit of following the route of the Odyssey from Troy to Ithaca (featuring Sirens and a visit to Hades) leave the film feeling slightly discordant, but the byplay remains delicious. –KH

Good

Deadwood Season 3 (Television, US, HBO, David Milch, 2006) George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) tightens his grip on the camp; Swearingen’s old actor friend (Brian Cox) sets up shop in town. With nothing happening in episode 12 that couldn’t have happened in episode 1, we see that Milch stopped the series because a fourth season would have required some sort of plot to finally coalesce. Still the riffed scenes of quasi-Shakespearean frontier profanity continue to divert while they’re playing out.—RDL

Gary Gulman: Boyish Man (Stand-up, Gary Gulman, 2006) Gulman’s early act still shows its Seinfeldian influences, and the way-too-frequent cuts to the audience don’t allow him to build momentum. Nevertheless, any routine with a strong eleven minutes on cookies has something going for it. –KH

The Wrecking Crew (Film, US, Denny Tedesco, 2008) Coalescing under Phil Spector, an elite group of session musicians essentially played on every important piece of pop and rock music recorded in Los Angeles from 1962 to 1973 (drummer Hal Blaine had 170 gold records, for instance). Guitarist Tommy Tedesco’s illness in 1996 galvanized his son into gathering footage and interviews, and organizing a reunion of the core Crew, but the resulting doc only intermittently highlights its subject and ironically never settles into a groove. –KH

Okay

The Whole Town’s Talking (Film, US, John Ford, 1935) Danger descends on a meek clerk (Edward G. Robinson) when an identical fugitive armed robber arrives in town. Ford would clearly rather be making a straight-up gangster flick instead of a mistaken identity comedy, and the script both wastes Jean Arthur and spends twice as long as it should getting to the obvious thing that has to happen to satisfy the premise.—RDL

Not Recommended

Slightly French (Film, US, Douglas Sirk, 1949) Bullying film director (Don Ameche) convinces a carnival performer (Dorothy Lamour) to pretend to be French in order to take over as the new leading lady in his latest musical. Wan Pygmalion riff shows Sirk’s facility with pacing and integration of composition and production design, but not the rest of the signature ironic melodrama style of his peak mid-50s run.—RDL

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