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Ken and Robin Consume Media: When the Going Gets Strange

November 15th, 2016 | 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 our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Recommended

Clouds of Sils Maria (Film, France, Olivier Assayas, 2014) Insecure actress (Juliette Binoche) preparation for a revival of a play that made her career, now playing the older part, taxes her relationship with her protective assistant (Kristen Stewart.) Assayas, master of taking small moments and investing them with tremendous portent, creates a subtly troubling drama of creative power struggles.–RDL

Gun Crazy (Film, US, Joseph H. Lewis, 1950) Good-natured Bart (John Dall) is obsessed with guns, and then with hard-bitten trick shooter Annie (Peggy Cummins), leading to a crime spree and a bad end. Lewis alternates psychosexual melodrama with almost verite crime and car sequences, playing story against space until the final showdown in a fog-shrouded swamp. Rub a soft pencil anywhere over Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and this movie appears. –KH

Good

Doctor Strange (Film, US, Scott Derrickson, 2016) Crippled surgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) discovers magic and takes on the role of superhero in a visually stunning production of a standard Marvel-school script. The big magic set-pieces, fortunately, combine cinematic originality (modulo some Inception) with Ditko-vision, and Michael Giacchino layers on a score that often breaks out of the Marvel mold. The humans, not so much. –KH

Okay

Doctor Strange (Film, US, Scott Derrickson, 2016) Arrogant surgeon, his hands damaged after a car accident, learns sorcery and battles a pawn of extradimensional evil. If any character cried out to be freed from the Marvel movie origin story template, it’s this one. In the comics Strange’s origin was only 8 pages long and appeared four issues after his debut. No amount of CGI Ditko tableaus or Cumberbatch charisma can pay off the exposition taxes its structure imposes.—RDL

Not Recommended

American Ultra (Film, US, Nima Nourizadeh, 2015) Anxiety-ridden stoner (Jesse Eisenberg) with preternaturally understanding girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) discovers he’s a super-soldier, and his CIA creators want him dead. To work this would need the Bourne bits to be Bournier, with non-cheated action, some degree of authenticity around its portrayal of the intelligence world, and a villain plan that isn’t flagged as idiotic from the get-go.—RDL

Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Epoque (Nonfiction, Tobias Churton, 2016) Examination of 19th French Rosicrucian Gerard “Papus” Encausse and Stanislas de Guaita, their circles, and their relationship to Symbolist art and music. Half rhapsodic critical exploration, half disorganized historical survey, peppered with random personal anecdotes as boring as they are irrelevant. When it comes time for the Yellow King RPG Kickstarter, remember that I read this so you don’t have to.—RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: When the Going Gets Strange”

  1. Steve Dempsey says:

    Damn. The Churton is in my reading pile. I thought he would do a good job. I have a few others on the period however which I could bring along one Friday evening.

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