Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Wonder Woman, Palm Springs, Midnight Sky

January 5th, 2021 | 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 Book of Lamps and Banners (Fiction, Elizabeth Hand, 2020) Increasingly strung-out punk photographer Cass Neary tries to leverage the hunt for a rare occult manuscript into a payout for her and her lover, but of course murderous complications intervene. Hand presents all four books in the series as rapid frames in Neary’s dramatic dissolution rather than episodes in an iconic hero’s career; this one, therefore, has to manage the trick of shifting Neary into her final stage without derailing its momentum. Fortunately, the titular Book (and the weird tech implications Hand gives it) have enough power to drive the novel around the turn. –KH

Joe Gould’s Teeth (Nonfiction, Jill Lepore, 2015) As a demonstration of the biographical researcher’s art, Lepore delves into a great unanswered question of New York literary lore—whether portions of the allegedly massive oral history of everything by literary eccentric Joe Gould, as made famous in two iconic Joseph Mitchell New Yorker articles, survive or ever existed. What she discovers deromanticizes Gould’s madness, revealing him as both a victim of institutional psychiatry and a harasser and stalker.—RDL

The Night Comes For Us (Film, Indonesia, Timo Tjahjanto, 2018) Triad enforcer (Joe Taslim) goes rogue to protect a girl he’s orphaned, endangering his friends and setting up a showdown with his former running buddy (Iko Uwais.) Artfully shot grand guignol martial arts action from alumni of The Raid showcases top-notch prop/improvised weapon use.—RDL

Palm Springs (Film, US, Max Barbacow, 2020) Checked-out wedding guest (Adam Sandberg) fails to prevent the sister of the bride (Cristin Miliotti) from entering the infinite time loop he’s trapped in. Charming, funny romcom assumes you’ve seen a time loop movie before and makes clever hay with those expectations.—RDL


The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers (Nonfiction, Michael Goss, 1984) This short treatise applies the standards of parapsychology, rather than the usual standards of folklore studies, to three specific incident groups in the UK. An interesting exercise, which would be Recommended had Goss expanded the scope of his treatise to any of the main American incidents or to more complete coverage of the myth-pattern he scants in his last chapter. –KH

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes (Fiction, James Lovegrove, 2020) Twelve short stories of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, half of them “normal” pastiches, two told by minor Holmesian figures (Toby the dog and rival detective Clarence Barker), and four nerdtroped in some way: Lovecraft, Stevenson, Doyle again (Prof. Challenger and a murderous pterodactyl), and supers. “The Adventure of the Botanist’s Glove” is by far the best in the collection, and “The Adventure of the Yithian Stone” while too full of exposition does offer a nicely cruel glancing view of the Mythos. None of them are overtly bad (two Recommended, three Okay), but Lovegrove’s Doyle-voice quavers a bit even at the best of times. –KH

Shazam! (Film, US, David F. Sandberg, 2019) Resistant foster kid (Asher Angel) gains the ability to transform into an adult-shaped superhero (Zachary Levi.) Fun, cape-wearing riff on Big bookended by the usual over-elaborated exposition and CGI final fight sequence of superhero origin movies.—RDL

WW84 (Film, US, Patty Jenkins, 2020) In the era of pastel shades and high-cut leotards, a lonely Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) deals with the fallout when a wishing stone falls into the hands of an awkward pal (Kristen Wiig) and a wannabe tycoon (Pedro Pascal). Jenkins takes DC movies full circle to the lighthearted tone of the Donner/Lester Superman flicks—bringing with it their disjointed storytelling. Over time WW84 may come to be appreciated for its sincere dedication to weirdness, which is two thirds attributable to picking scenes and set pieces and trying to shoehorn them into a narrative, and one third from the freaky ghost of William Moulton Marston manifesting into the material.—RDL

Not Recommended

The Midnight Sky (Film, US, George Clooney, 2020) Terminally ill researcher (Clooney) remains behind on an Antarctic base to warn a returning spaceship crew to turn around, avoiding the devastation that has destroyed the world during their journey. An unrelieved series of down beats substitute dourness for profundity, with the entire proceedings wrapped around a leaden, cheap reveal.—RDL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
Flying Clock
Film Cannister