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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Wrath of Man, Succession, Kong

May 18th, 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 Pinnacle

Succession Season 1 (Television, US, HBO, Jesse Armstrong, 2018) When a cerebral event sidelines a domineering media mogul (Brian Cox), his esteem-deprived heir apparent (Jeremy Strong) makes a bid for control, variously abetted and thwarted by his siblings, a cynical political consultant (Sarah Snook), a scenester jackanape (Keiran Culkin) and a granola libertarian (Alan Ruck.) Slashing wit is the elevating factor of a Sirkian business melodrama that revels in the awfulness of its characters while finding pathos in, well, some of them.—RDL

Recommended

Awaara (Film, India, Raj Kapoor, 1956) Happenstance reunites a charming petty criminal (Raj Kapoor) with his childhood sweetheart (Nargis), now a law student whose pathologically judgmental magistrate guardian (Prithviraj Kapoor) is determined to keep them apart. And also, unbeknown to either, the disadvantaged suitor’s father. Foundational Bollywood musical melodrama features social conscience, expressionist visuals, and a surreal, mythic dream sequence dance number full of gods and demons.—RDL

Wrath of Man (Film, US/UK, Guy Ritchie, 2021) Robbery-plagued armored car company hires new  guard H (Jason Statham) but it seems he has another agenda. Remaking a French armored-car-heist version of High Plains Drifter with lashings of Seijun Suzuki and Heat seems to have given Guy Ritchie enough to do that he tones his manic style way down, matching the overlapping menace that Statham and composer Christopher Benstead bring. Jeffrey Donovan is a joy as the main heister, while Scott Eastwood seems to delight in playing the negative space around his dad. –KH

Good

The End of the F***ing World Season 1 (Television, UK, Channel 4, Charlie Covell, 2017) Alienated by her family situation, a stroppy teen (Jessica Barden) runs away with an introverted classmate who fancies himself a budding serial killer. Supplies the chemistry needed for an entry in the couple on the lam sub-genre, but with a structure that lands it in the nether zone between feature film and serialized TV.—RDL

The Servant (Film, UK, Joseph Losey, 1963) A manservant who is both more and less than he appears (Dirk Bogarde) insinuates himself into the life and psyche of his callow aristocratic employer (James Fox.) Chilly portrayal of the English class system as a study in codependency which, perhaps because it has to subtextualize its characters’ sexuality, executes its spiral into madness a shade abruptly.—RDL

Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness (Television, US, Netflix, Joshua Zeman, 2021) Journalist Maury Terry uncovered evidence that David Berkowitz did not commit the Son of Sam killings alone, and spun that out into a sprawling Satanic-cult narrative that eventually broke his life. Essentially four overlapping and under-argued docs, this series throws the usual Netflix quality at the wall but Zeman (who was friends with Terry in his later years) can’t really make it stick. –KH

Okay

Kong: Skull Island (Film, US, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017) In 1973, frustrated air-cav Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) escorts a team of geologists exploring the newly-discovered Skull Island. If you’re going to insist on making your giant ape movie a Vietnam War metaphor, try not to do it so heavy-handedly. Kong vs. Huey gunships is a truly great sequence, but there’s another 90 minutes of sententious blather after that. Johns Goodman and C. Reilly try to infuse the needed manic weirdness into this wannabe Apocalypse Kong but fail for lack of support and overall vision. Hey, it is a Vietnam War metaphor! –KH

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