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Ken and Robin Consume Media: White Noise, Decision to Leave, Classic Lubitsch

December 20th, 2022 | 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.


Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (Film, US, Ernst Lubitsch, 1938) On discovering that her blunt rich American fiancee (Gary Cooper) is a serial divorcer, the charming daughter (Claudette Colbert) of a shady count (Edward Everett Horton) decides to exact a literal and emotional toll. Sophisticated screwball comedy mines America vs Europe cultural divide with the aid of fine-tuned wisecracks from the writing team of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.—RDL

Decision to Leave (Film, South Korea, Park Chan-wook, 2022) Devoted cop (Park Hae-il) succumbs to a romantic obsession for an enigmatic emigre (Tang Wei) he suspects in the murder of her husband. Park mutes his bravura style for a hypnotic Journey into Hitchcock territory.—RDL

White Noise (Film, US, Noah Baumbach, 2022) Professor Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) and his wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) go from manic to paranoiac after an airborne toxic event. Baumbach’s tendencies to stilted logorrhea meet their perfect match in the Don DeLillo source novel, resulting in a layered alchemical comedy blending genre riffs with self-aware genre lectures and ending in an LCD Soundsystem musical number. Much credit goes to Lol Crawley’s bright 80s camera eye and Danny Elfman’s bouncy score. –KH


Juju Stories (Film, Nigeria, C.J. Obasi, Abba Makama, Michael Omonua, 2021) A woman uses juju for love, cursed money turns a thug into a yam, and a witch gets jealous in the three short films in this anthology. The first has the most human story, but the least excitement; the yam tale probably satisfies the most; the witch story could almost have sustained a whole movie if its characters got to breathe or fuller dimensionality. Three Good shorts, in other words, with a wonderfully naturalistic magic background. –KH

Me and My Gal (Film, US, Raoul Walsh, 1932) Ambitious bowery-beat cop (Spencer Tracy) falls for the wisecracking sister (Joan Bennett) of a woman mixed up with mobsters. Unusual mix of rough-hewn romcom and crime drama from the early talkie era, where screenwriters weren’t sure such which tropes belonged in the same movie.—RDL

Wednesday Season 1 (Television, US, Netflix, Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, 2022) When her parents Gomez and Morticia (Luis Guzman and Catherine Zeta-Jones) send Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) to their old boarding school, she uncovers a magical mystery. Tonal collision nearly sinks this effort: Addams comedy depends on playing off normies, which the school isn’t, but the comedy undermines any real stakes to the murders. The fact that all the young actors (except Emma Myers as Wednesday’s fun, girly werewolf roomie) went to the same CW mumblecore drama school gives Wednesday’s mordant affect almost nothing to respond to. Ortega, however, transcends the weak material, and Tim Burton directs four episodes, so there’s at least some personality to watch. –KH


Enola Holmes 2 (Film, US, Harry Bradbeer, 2022) Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) investigates a missing match girl while her brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill) matches wits with a mastermind in a surely unrelated case. Less fun than the first film, substituting puzzles for mysteries, and barely true even to its own pretend Victorian era: another case of feel-goodism undermining stakes. This one is only for David Thewlis devotees, as his Superintendent Grail has all the sliminess and squintiness one could ask for in a British villain. –KH

Max Steiner: Maestro of Movie Music (Film, US, Diana Friedberg, 2019) Overlong, fannish documentary profiles the avuncular, workaholic composer who laid down the template for neo-romantic film music and continued to follow it with such classic scores as King Kong, Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, and The Big Sleep.—RDL

Spirited (Film, US, Sean Anders, 2022) The Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) pitches his boss Jacob Marley on a candidate for spectral Yuletide reformation, a seductively cynical PR specialist (Ryan Reynolds.) Cute premise and appealing comic bro chemistry weighed down by formulaic contemporary pop-Broadway songs.—RDL

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: White Noise, Decision to Leave, Classic Lubitsch”

  1. Justin Mohareb says:

    I enjoyed Spirited but I really thought it felt like it was a dry run for a broadway show.

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