Grimoire
Cthulhu
Dracula
Abraham Lincoln
Ken
Grimoire

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Three Colours and Ken’s New Queen of Crime

September 13th, 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.

The Pinnacle

Three Colours: Blue (Film, France/Switzerland/Poland, Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993) After her daughter and composer husband die in a car crash, Julie (Juliette Binoche) tries to liberate herself from other people. Near-perfect sound, lighting, score, and production design buttress the twin triumphs of Kieślowski’s direction and Binoche’s performance, which pulls the whole film from despair to grief to a veritable struggle against art and love. Overwhelmingly great. –KH

Three Colours: Red (Film, France/Switzerland/Poland, Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994) In Geneva, model Valentine (Irene Jacob) hits a dog belonging to retired judge Joseph (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and enters his bleak web of fraternity. Remarkable two-hander scenes power and illuminate the core of this “anti-tragedy” about chance, fate, connection, love, need, and time. Amazing inverted pyramid of a film ends the trilogy perfectly on a still image. –KH

Recommended

London Particular (Fiction, Christianna Brand, 1952) [Published as Fog of Doubt in the US.] A thick fog blankets London when a Belgian bon viveur gets his head smashed in a doctor’s house: can Inspector Cockrill see through it? Remorseless fair-play mystery showcases Brand’s unsentimental but winning character portraits, a masterpiece of misdirection in every sense. I may have a new Queen of Crime. –KH

Three Colours: White (Film, France/Switzerland/Poland, Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994) After his wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) cruelly dumps and destroys him, schlemiel Polish hairdresser Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowsky) resolves to equalize their situation. The comic heart of the film bats between opposites and twins – East and West, crime and friendship, love and hate, Karol and his ally Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos), life and death. Not quite as beautiful or pure as the other two “Colours,” so merely a superb film instead of a transcendent one. –KH

Good

Girls on Film (Nonfiction, Alicia Malone, 2022) Film writer Malone connects the events of her own life to classic movies and the attitudes toward women they created and reflect, tracing her journey from preteen cineaste to Turner Classic Movies host. Insightful, accessible intertwining of the personal and political.—RDL

Okay

The Late Monsieur Gallet (Fiction, Georges Simenon, 1931) Inspector Maigret investigates the hotel shooting death of a sickly traveling salesman who was more than he seemed. Simenon strays from his usual social realism into a gimmicky mystery with outlandish backstory.—RDL

divider

RVIFF Reviews: Gay Hong Kong Seniors, A Trainwreck of a Dude Returns Home, and a Rapid-Fire Korean Pursuit Thriller

September 13th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. Daily capsule reviews roll out throughout the festival, with a complete list in order of preference dropping a day or two afterwards. Review ratings are out of 5.

 

Twilight’s Kiss (Hong Kong, Ray Yeung, 2019, 4) Closeted retirement-age cab driver (Tai-Bo) strikes up a relationship with a contemporary (Ben Yuen) who is likewise not out to his family but yearns for a closer connection. Restrained character drama honors and regrets the stoic resignation of its characters.

Zero Fucks Given (Belgium, Julie Lecoustre & Emmanuel Marre, 2019) Despite her desires to lose herself in distractions, a young flight attendant for a budget airline is forced to seek promotion. Realist character study at first appears to be a working person’s film for the service industry era, then goes deeper.

Every TIFF there was at least one film whose program book description led me to expect a wrong different tone and premise. The tradition continues at RVIFF, but I still very much liked what Zero Fucks Given turned out to be.

Red Rocket (US, Sean Baker, 2021, 4) Fast-talking hasbeen adult performer (Simon Rex) returns to his small Texas hometown to wheedle his way back into the life of his ex-wife / ex-co-star (Bree Elrod) and set his sights on a not-so-innocent 18-year old (Susanna Son.) Satirical character drama where the suspense lies in the exact manner of the lead character’s foreordained flame-out.

Midnight (South Korea, Oh-Seung Kwon, 2021, 4) After witnessing a serial killer (Wi Ha-joon) with his latest victim, a deaf customer service rep (Ki-joo Jin) flees for her life. Unity-of-time thriller keeps the inventive, surprising suspense beats coming fast.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now available in the Ken and Robin merch store.

 


 

If you enjoy this special text feature of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast and don’t already support our Patreon, consider tossing a few bucks in the tip jar. Or check out my book on action films and their roleplaying applications, Blowing Up the Movies. Or the roleplaying game inspired by the Hong Kong films I first encountered at TIFF, Feng Shui 2.

divider

RVIFF Reviews: Love and Screenwriting, Miraculous Healing, and Teen Girl Assassin Roommate Troubles

September 12th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. Daily capsule reviews roll out throughout the festival, with a complete list in order of preference dropping a day or two afterwards. Review ratings are out of 5.

 

Holy Emy (Greece, Araceli Lemos, 2021, 4) As she manifests miraculous healing abilities, a young woman (Abigael Loma) in Ahens’ Filipino community faces a choice between her devout sister and the ex-employer  who exploited her mother’s similar powers. Magic realist drama heightened by a strong sense for imagery.

Eyimofe (This is My Desire) (Nigeria, Arie Esiri & Chuko Esiri, 2020, 4) A Lagos mechanic and hairdresser a degree of separation from one another struggle to raise money needed to emigrate. Energetic slice of life drama of life in a touch city where every interaction by necessity devolves into a transaction.

Bergman Island (France, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2021, 4) Undertaking a residency on Ingmar Bergman’s retreat at Faroe, a filmmaker (Vicky Krieps) struggles with a script as her more celebrated, prolific husband (Tim Roth) breezes through his; she describes to him its rekindled affair at a wedding on Faroe, casting it with Mia Wasikowksa and Anders Danielsen Lie. Serenely beautiful puzzle film about the parallel mysteries of love and the creative process.

Baby Assassins (Japan, Yugo Sakamoto, 2021, 3.5) Two teen girl killers, one outgoing, the other withdrawn, have trouble meshing when the oddly bureaucratic enterprise they work for requires them to live together and get part-time jobs. Offbeat cult comedy bookended by fun fight sequences.

 


 

If you enjoy this special text feature of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast and don’t already support our Patreon, consider tossing a few bucks in the tip jar. Or check out my book on action films and their roleplaying applications, Blowing Up the Movies. Or the roleplaying game inspired by the Hong Kong films I first encountered at TIFF, Feng Shui 2.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now available in the Ken and Robin merch store.

divider

RVIFF Reviews: Cree Resisters Battle a Dark Future, Chaos Reigns in a Verhoeven Nunnery, And a Brazilian Werewolf in Sao Paulo

September 11th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. Daily capsule reviews roll out throughout the festival, with a complete list in order of preference dropping a day or two afterwards. Review ratings are out of 5.

 

Hey There! (Turkey, Reha Erdem, 2021, 4) With Istanbul under COVID quarantine, a scammer turns to computer videoconferencing to blackmail minor offenders in the guise of a law enforcement official. Lockdown webcam musical comedy finds hope for the future in warm, embracing cynicism.

Fagara (Hong Kong, Heiward Mak, 2019, 4) When her father suddenly dies, an unfulfilled woman (Sammi Cheng) meets the half-sisters she didn’t know about and decides to keep his hotpot restaurant open. Luminous family drama centers on restrained, effective movie star performances from Cheng and, in a supporting role, Andy Lau.

Night Raiders (Canada, Danis Goulet, 2021, 4) In a grim near future, a Cree woman reluctantly unites with a resistance cell of fellow tribe members to rescue her daughter from a totalitarian military academy. Allegory of the residential schools system framed as a dystopian thriller designs its futuristic elements to look like drably naturalistic found locations.

Benedetta (France/Belgium/Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven, 2021, 4) Young nun (Virginie Efira) in 17th century Italy supplements her passion for a rustic novice (Daphne Patakia) with gory visions of a sword-wielding Jesus, fueling a rise to power in her convent. Verhoven gives his zest for the lurid full reign as sensuality and mortification intertwine and the clash of competing fanaticisms unleashes chaos.

Good Manners (Brazil, Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas, 2017, 3.5) Woman in precarious circumstances (Isabél Zuaa) takes a job as nanny-to-be for a pregnant, unanchored rich woman (Marjorie Estiano) who develops somnambulism and a thirst for blood when the moon is full. Compelling and chameleonic, if structurally unbalanced, werewolf film essays radical shifts of style and premise that variously references Lewton, Landis, Disney and maybe a hint of Fassbinder.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now available in the Ken and Robin merch store.

 


 

If you enjoy this special text feature of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast and don’t already support our Patreon, consider tossing a few bucks in the tip jar. Or check out my book on action films and their roleplaying applications, Blowing Up the Movies. Or the roleplaying game inspired by the Hong Kong films I first encountered at TIFF, Feng Shui 2.

divider

RVIFF Reviews: Herzog Pays Homage, the Wrong Man Thriller Gets Upended, and Cronenberg Shows His Disciples How It’s Done

September 10th, 2022 | Robin

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. Daily capsule reviews roll out throughout the festival, with a complete list in order of preference dropping a day or two afterwards. Review ratings are out of 5.

My Name Is Gulpilil (Australia, Molly Reynolds, 2021, 4) In the late stages of lung cancer, actor David Gulpilil, who represented the Australian indigenous experience on-screen from the age of 14 to 64, looks back on his career, personal struggles, and connection to his culture. Sticks to the POV of its frank, straightforward subject, skipping the sincere but unilluminating tributes from colleagues that fill out the standard arts profile documentary.

Scarborough (Canada, Shasha Nakhai & Rich Williamson, 2021, 2.5) Families attending a parenting and literacy drop-in center in a low-income neighborhood experience travails and triumphs. With so many issues stuffed into one movie, this is the Love Actually of social realist movies, and not without the heavy-handedness the genre has always indulged.

Coppers (Canada, Alan Zweig, 2019, 4) Retired Ontario police officers recount their often hair-raising experiences as coppers and the struggles with PTSD, alcoholism and other members of the force that resulted from them. Zweig, master of the interview documentary, lets his subjects explore the gnarly paradox of policing—that the job inherently turns people who do it into people who shouldn’t.

This one even has an Eliptony Hut angle, as one officer describes police contact with a poltergeist, driving past the apartment where it manifested as he does so.

Hive (Kosovo, Blerta Basholli, 2021, 4) Determined woman (Yllka Gashi) assembles fellow presumed widows of Kosovo War ethnic cleansing to form a company to make pepper preserves, defying village prejudices against women driving or working. Incisively told social drama features committed, immediate performances.

Sheep Without a Shepherd (China, Sam Quah, 2019, 4) Movie-mad, hard-pressed supplier of Internet hardware plots to cover up his daughter’s killing of her abuser as he attacked her mother—but his mother, a corner-cutting police chief (Joan Chen), is determined to find out what happened. Presented in hyper-accentuated style that might be expressed in the equation ((John Woo + Tony Scott) × Bollywood), this upends the wrong man thriller into a premise where the protagonists did do it and we’re rooting for them to get away with it.

This is a remake of a 2013 Indian film. Since the plot revolves around corrupt cops, it can’t be set in mainland China and pass censorship, and so takes place among the Chinese community in Thailand.

Nomad: in the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (UK, Werner Herzog, 2019, 4) Herzog conducts another of his documentary journeys of wonder and reverence, encountering ley lines, songlines, and the totemic powers of a life-saving rucksack, in tribute to his friend Bruce Chatwin, whose novel he adapted into his 1987 film Cobra Verde. In vowing to ensure that the protagonist is not himself but Chatwin, who was like a brother to him, Herzog reveals more of himself than perhaps any other of his many works.

Crimes of the Future (Canada, David Cronenberg, 2022, 4) In a kinky near future where pain is a rarity, performance artists Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice push the boundaries of their work, which features the elaborate removal of the novel organs he grows with his Accelerated Evolution Syndrome. Cronenberg shows his imitators how it’s really done, splicing the throughline of 8½ into body horror and finding the destruction in the creative process.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now available in the Ken and Robin merch store.



If you enjoy this special text feature of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast and don’t already support our Patreon, consider tossing a few bucks in the tip jar. Or check out my book on action films and their roleplaying applications, Blowing Up the Movies. Or the roleplaying game inspired by the Hong Kong films I first encountered at TIFF, Feng Shui 2.

divider

Episode 513: Tiptoe Away from His Flailing Proboscis

September 9th, 2022 | Robin

The Gaming Hut exists in all dimensions as beloved Patreon backer Jacob Boersma asks how to giving Evelyn Wang’s multiversal powers from Everything Everywhere All at Once to player characters.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk to Someone Else, Ken talks to Cody Swendrowski, developer for the Foundry virtual tabletop platform, who tells how its community focus distinguishes it from its competitors, and of his forays into streaming and podcasting.

Discerning backer Eric (Speaker in Digressions) buys a ticket to the Horror Hut to ask how to apply the cool conceit of Prey to other horror franchises.

Finally, classical backer Fridrik Bjarnason wants to know why Ken’s Time Machine was used to erase historical records of a Roman city recently unearthed in Zaragoza, Spain.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Our Patreon-backed Letterboxd list of all films mentioned on the show is now up and running.

Also check out the Goodreads list of books mentioned on the show.

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The PDF of Atlas Games’ prehistoric, dinosaur-approved 5E setting, Planegea, is ready to hurtle to your download folder like a theropod toward an sauropod.  Order it now for immediate download!

 

Track down foul sorcerers in a corrupt city, clamber through underground ruins and investigate the intrigues of your decadent rivals in Swords of the Serpentine, the GUMSHOE game of swords, sorcery and mystery, now available from Pelgrane Press.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Delta Green Iconoclasts, a campaign of horrors modern and ancient, brings a team of Agents to a scene of horrors all too real: Mosul in 2016, held by the self-styled Islamic State in a reign of depraved brutality. From a small base at the Kirkuk airfield, the Agents must research the horrors to come and prepare for a harrowing infiltration. Terrors and new supplementary material await, now in PDF, hardback now in preorder.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: 13 Titles from Noir City Chicago, Only Murders, and the Fascinatingly Terrible House of Gucci

September 6th, 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.

Recommended

The Argyle Secrets (Film, US, Cy Endfield, 1948) After columnist Allen Pierce (George Anderson) tips off reporter Harry Mitchell (William Gargan) to the red-hot Argyle Album, Mitchell winds up framed for Pierce’s murder. Simultaneously over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek, this riff on The Maltese Falcon manages to combine ironic humor and genuine tension. Special shout-out to Jack Reitzer, the troupe’s wonderful discount Sydney Greenstreet. –KH

Detective Story (Film, US, William Wyler, 1951) During one long evening in a NYPD precinct house, Detective Jim McLeod (Kirk Douglas) finds himself strained to the breaking point. With a  murderers’ row of supporting actors including Lee Grant, Joe Weisman, and William Bendix, the film transcends its stage-play origins with the ultra-noir tale of a man condemned by his refusal to break his moral code. –KH

Flesh and Bone (Film, US, Steve Kloves, 1993) When itinerant  vending-machine proprietor Arlis (Dennis Quaid) meets trainwreck Kay (Meg Ryan), he awakens his deadly and horrible past, embodied to perfection by James Caan. A perfectly balanced daylight noir character study that would fall to pieces if any of the four actors (Gwyneth Paltrow as a cold young hustler completes the quartet) were less than superb in their roles. –KH

Jane by Charlotte (Film, France, Charlotte Gainsbourg, 2021) Documentary portrait of actor/singer Jane Birkin by her daughter, actor/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg. Moving and intimate, but very much for the initiated: if you need background exposition on its principals, this is not your starting point.—RDL

A Monkey in Winter (Film, France, Henri Verneuil, 1962) Ex-alcoholic innkeeper in a sleepy resort town (Jean Gabin) sees his former self in a hard-boozing off-season guest (Jean-Paul Belmondo.) Were I hardened to the embracing charms of this comedy-drama superstar two-hander, I’d point out that it handwaves away the central conflict of one of its characters, but I’m not so I won’t.—RDL

Only Murders in the Building Season 2 (Television, US, Hulu, Steve Martin & John Hoffman, 2022) The unlikely trio of crime-solving podcasters (Martin, Selena Gomez, Martin Short) work to solve the slaying of building president Bunny Folger before the killer pins it on them. Replete with jokes about second season slumps, this outing preserves the mix of cozy mystery, comedy and melancholy that made the first one work so engagingly.—RDL

Scandal Sheet (Film, US, Phil Karlson, 1952) Tabloid editor Mark Chapman (Broderick Crawford) assigns his protege Steve McCleary (John Derek) to cover the story of a murder he committed. Pitilessly tense noir adapted from a Sam Fuller novel barely slackens its pace even for a winning supporting performance by Donna Reed as the conscience of the paper. Crawford dominates the screen, willing you to become an accessory to his character’s desperation. –KH

Street of Chance (Film, US, Jack Hively, 1942) A near-miss by falling rubble reawakens Frank Thompson’s (Burgess Meredith) memory – he’s been living another life for the past year. Based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, it essentially expands Hammett’s Flitcraft parable. Meredith’s growing comfort in his lies provides a resonant moral bass line to an otherwise straightforward amnesia-crime proto-noir. –KH

Good

711 Ocean Drive (Film, US, Joseph M. Newman, 1950) Phone company tech Mal Granger (Edmond O’Brien) rises to L.A. racket boss based on his superior ability to wire a sports book. Intriguing technogangster film features a delightfully underplayed Otto Kruger as the Syndicate boss and a wonderful third-act heist but doesn’t quite achieve takeoff velocity. Perhaps O’Brien’s meaty affect, or the too-long Hoover Dam chase scene, weighs it down. –KH

Among the Living (Film, US, Stuart Heisler, 1941) When his tyrannical father dies, John Raden (Albert Dekker) returns to his decrepit family mansion – and discovers his twin brother Paul (also Dekker) still alive and insane! A firecracker performance by a young Susan Hayward energizes this would-be Southern Gothic. Patches of atmospheric scenes work well, despite the cast all sounding like they come from southern Philly at best. –KH

The Face Behind the Mask (Film, US, Robert Florey, 1941) Horribly burned in a rooming house fire on his first day in America, immigrant watchmaker Janos Szabo (Peter Lorre) turns his skills to crime – until he meets a blind girl (Evelyn Keyes) who loves him. Lorre and Keyes’ performances keep this entirely rote formula flim interesting, if seldom compelling, until a hard, hard fourth-act turn lifts you out of your seat. –KH

Smooth as Silk (Film, US, Charles Barton, 1946) Egotistical lawyer Mark Fenton (Kent Taylor) watches his actress girlfriend Paula Marlowe (Virginia Gray) social-climb out of his orbit – and resolves to bring her down. A fine crime story casts ample shadows and intriguing character bits, but actually needs another 20 minutes to grow it into a truly first-rate film. Sadly, it was a B-picture, so it didn’t get them. –KH

The Sniper (Film, US, Edward Dmytryk, 1952) Dry-cleaner delivery man Eddie Miller (Arthur Franz) resents women, and a callous system tumbles him into serially shooting them. Magnificent San Francisco location shots and a world-weary Adolphe Menjou as the detective hunting him (named Frank Kafka for no reason) redeem a relatively unadorned narrative. Richard Kiley plays the psychiatrist whose “sympathetic” solution apparently involves mandatory mass institutionalization. –KH

The Trip (Film, Norway, Tommy Wirkola, 2021) Disaffected couple (Noomi Rapace, Aksel Hennie) go to the cabin for a weekend, each planning to kill the other, only to be interrupted by a trio of escaped convicts. Sags in the second act, as it resets from a fresh premise to an overly familiar one, picking up steam again with the over-the-topness of its gory finish.—RDL

Okay

So Dark the Night (Film, US, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946) In the French country town of St.-Margot to relax from overwork, Sûreté detective Henri Cassin (Steven Geray) falls in love and finds a murder he can’t seem to solve. The relentless cheapness of the production matches the uninspired story; only Burnett Guffey’s rich noir cinematography makes it at all worth seeking out. –KH

Southside 1-1000 (Film, US, Boris Ingster, 1950) Secret Service agent Riggs (Don DeFore) hunts a crew of counterfeiters as a narrator intones the virtues of sound currency. Nobody involved quite overcomes the inertia of the pseudo-documentary format, although occasionally Andrea King gives it a sly college try as the head of the gang. –KH

Not Recommended

The Cruel Tower (Film, US, Lew Landers, 1956) Beaten up by hobos, acrophobic lunk Tom Kittredge (John Ericson) falls in with a steeplejack crew run by surly “Stretch” Clay (Charles McGraw) – and with Stretch’s girl Mary (Mari Blanchard). Absolutely rote film on every level does nothing with its thin premise. The highlight is a big scar on Alan Hale Jr.’s head. –KH

Dr. Broadway (Film, US, Anthony Mann, 1942) Dr. Tim Kane (Macdonald Carey), beloved by the denizens of Broadway, gets in hot water when he saves a phony suicide (Jean Phillips) and gets framed for murder by conniving clothier-gang boss Venner (J. Carroll Naish). Between the sycophantically boosterish script and Carey’s smug performance, we spent the whole film wanting to punch the ostensible hero so very much. A very few touches show the genius Mann would become. –KH

Fascinatingly Terrible

House of Gucci (Film, US, Ridley Scott, 2021) Ambitious accountant for her family’s trucking firm (Lady Gaga) creates a monster when she woos an awkward member of a fabled fashion clan (Adam Driver) and kindles his suppressed interest in the business. A glorious epic of misjudged kitsch, with a tone constantly crossing over the center line between intentional satire and ridiculous seriousness. Driver somehow never puts a foot wrong as all around him go back for second and third helpings of ham. Worth sitting through the 2 hour 38 min run time for the spectacle of a prosthetics-buried Jared Leto valiantly attempting to out-overact Al Pacino.—RDL

divider

Episode 512: The Spiders Pay For Themselves

September 2nd, 2022 | Robin

In the Mythos Hut we decide that fish people and serpent folk have hogged the spotlight for too long. It’s time for us to invent some humanoid toads, of the psychedelic variety of course, and wrap them into a Fall of DELTA GREEN scenario hook.

Inevitably, Fun With Science must grapple, so to speak, with the advent of necrobotic spiders. A request from beloved Patreon backer Evan Hughes, and some superglue, makes that happen.

In the Narrative Hut we explore the rural tilt of the fantasy genre.

Finally in the Eliptony Hut we check out psychic Uri Geller’s recently declared micronation off the coast of Scotland.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Our Patreon-backed Letterboxd list of all films mentioned on the show is now up and running.

Also check out the Goodreads list of books mentioned on the show.

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The PDF of Atlas Games’ prehistoric, dinosaur-approved 5E setting, Planegea, is ready to hurtle to your download folder like a theropod toward an sauropod.  Order it now for immediate download!

Track down foul sorcerers in a corrupt city, clamber through underground ruins and investigate the intrigues of your decadent rivals in Swords of the Serpentine, the GUMSHOE game of swords, sorcery and mystery, now available from Pelgrane Press.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Delta Green Iconoclasts, a campaign of horrors modern and ancient, brings a team of Agents to a scene of horrors all too real: Mosul in 2016, held by the self-styled Islamic State in a reign of depraved brutality. From a small base at the Kirkuk airfield, the Agents must research the horrors to come and prepare for a harrowing infiltration. Terrors and new supplementary material await, now in PDF, hardback now in preorder.

divider

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Cairo Noir, A Classic British Heist, and an Iconic Hong Kong Director

August 30th, 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.

The Pinnacle

The Nile Hilton Incident (Film, Denmark, Tarik Saleh, 2017) As protests begin to simmer against the Mubarak regime, a Cairo cop (Fares Fares) enmeshed in his department’s pervasive corruption investigates the murder of a singer in a posh hotel. Realist cop drama twists its way deeper into noir territory, placing classic motifs of the sub-genre in a bracing new social and political context.—RDL

Recommended

In the Name of the Italian People (Film, Italy, Dino Risi, 1971) Incorruptible magistrate (Ugo Tognazzi) pursues a motormouthed right-wing industrialist (Vittorio Gassman) he suspects of involvement in a call girl’s death. Satirical investigative drama casts a despairing eye at a society built on the shaky foundations of endemic corruption.—RDL

Keep Rolling (Film, Hong Kong, Lim Chung Man, 2020) Documentary profiles Ann Hui, groundbreaking director of the Hong Kong new wave, revealing the much-awarded filmmaker as a person who has doggedly endured hand-to-mouth finances and a career of ups and downs to stick to her uncomfortable subject matter and bleak vision of life.—RDL

The League of Gentlemen (Film, UK, Basil Dearden, 1960) Retired Lt.-Col. Hyde (Jack Hawkins) recruits a team of ex-Army officers for a bank robbery. Slowly ratcheting plot tension provides throughline and direction to a film fundamentally about changing class, gender, and sexual mores in postwar Britain. Dearden shows his usual effortless command of space and quick sympathy to character throughout, while creating a foundational heist film. –KH

Love After Love (Film, China, Ann Hui, 2020) In prewar Hong Kong, a naive poor relation (Sichun Ma) moves into the splendid household of her worldly, seductive aunt (Feihong Yu) and falls for a handsome young cad (Eddie Peng.) Sumptuously abetted by the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto and photography of Christopher Doyle, this novel adaptation deals in the beguiling surfaces of melodrama while favoring emotional realism over contrived catharsis.—RDL

Good

Bodies Bodies Bodies (Film, US, Halina Reijn, 2022) Rich girl Sophie (Amandla Sternberg) brings her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) to a hurricane party in an isolated mansion … and then the killings began. Reijn ambitiously wanted to make both a Gen-Z rich-kid comedy of manners and a slasher flick and winds up getting about 75% of the way to each goal. Pete Davidson heads a cast similarly balanced between “watchable and intriguing” and “I want them to get killed please.” –KH

Okay

Day Shift (Film, US, J.J. Perry, 2022) Vampire hunter Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx, relentless charisma muffled by dire byplay) needs to score 10 large in a week so he has to rejoin the, uh, Wobblies. Yes in this world the I.W.W. is the vampire hunters’ union, and pays much better money for kills. Sadly this tension between syndicalism and capitalism goes unexplored, along with everything else potentially interesting. Stunt work and fights are good, albeit ridiculously low-stakes (heh) in a world where nothing feels real except the well-observed location shots in the San Fernando Valley. –KH

Isabella (Film, Argentina, Matías Piñeiro, 2020) A challenging audition for a production of Measure for Measure causes an actor (Marįa Vilar) to reconsider her ambitions. Chronologically fragmented narrative appears to offer a puzzle and thus promise a resolution, but only elides its low dramatic stakes.-—RDL

divider

Episode 511: I Just Wanted to Say Astrosome

August 26th, 2022 | Robin

Foul sorcerers flee the Gaming Hut as beloved Patreon backer Jesse Lowe asks for the best Earth-based setting for swords and sorcery—the Hellenistic Era excepted, of course.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk To Someone Else, designer Gwen Marshall joins Ken to discuss the thinking behind such acclaimed projects as the ENnie-winning Ancestry & Culture and S5E: Superheroic Roleplaying.

The Monster Hut gets philosophical for a look at egregores in mythology and gaming.

Finally the Consulting Occultist lets love into his heart for a profile of songwriter, polemicist and free love priestess Edith Maida Lessing.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Our Patreon-backed Letterboxd list of all films mentioned on the show is now up and running.

Also check out the Goodreads list of books mentioned on the show.

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Human problems are out of hand, so thank goodness, and Atlas Games, for Magical Kitties Save the Day, a fresh, fun roleplaying game for players of all ages, and for GMs from age 6 and up!

Track down foul sorcerers in a corrupt city, clamber through underground ruins and investigate the intrigues of your decadent rivals in Swords of the Serpentine, the GUMSHOE game of swords, sorcery and mystery, now available from Pelgrane Press.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Delta Green Iconoclasts, a campaign of horrors modern and ancient, brings a team of Agents to a scene of horrors all too real: Mosul in 2016, held by the self-styled Islamic State in a reign of depraved brutality. From a small base at the Kirkuk airfield, the Agents must research the horrors to come and prepare for a harrowing infiltration. Terrors and new supplementary material await, now in PDF, hardback now in preorder.

divider
Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister