The Saturday Supplement

The Saturday Supplement made its debut right before the Christmas break. It should have returned from its holiday slumbers a couple of days ago but I managed to hospitalise myself (I’m limping but intact) so this week’s supplement is a…Monday Mixtape? We’ve got Alec on Making a Murderer, John on Supergirl, Graham on anime and my thoughts on Western horror Bone Tomahawk.

  • First up, here are Alec’s thoughts on “the necessary bias” of Netflix’s Serial-like documentary phenomenon Making a Murderer.
  • To find coverage of and conversation about it everywhere once I’d finished was a shock, though not at all an unexpected one – clearly you’re not going to find hidden gems on the front page of Netflix. I had much the same experience with Serial – it was my private headphone world of strangers’ agonies, and to suddenly be sharing it with everyone else and their pet theories robbed me of that sense of involvement, stamped all over my own analysis of what might have really happened. A strange form of entitlement, that I should want to make someone else’s tragedy feel like my own, and hate that it is taken from me by breathless headlines and all-knowing Tweets.

  • John has been watching Supergirl. For his own sake, I hope he stops watching it soon.
  • Here, finally, was a show which looked like it was going to have a dominantly female cast, with women in dominant roles, and yet here was a trailer that featured not just scene after scene of “Wah wah, I have feelings,” but even an “Ew, thank goodness you don’t mean gay!” moment almost worthy of Teen Wolf. There were some cool explosions, some fights, but they were drowning in simpering awfulness.

    Waiting and seeing was obviously the best course of action. And, rather devastatingly, the result is far, far worse than anything the trailer could have implied. This is the most saccharine, feeble, self-hating crap imaginable, and nine episodes deep, it’s showing only signs of getting worse.

  • Graham is not a fan of anime. Kino’s Journey is different though; it has captured his attention and it’s easy to understand why.
  • In the first episode, The Land Of Visible Pain, Kino and Hermes visit a country which appears at first to be populated solely by machines. After some exploration, they discover that there are other people, but that each one is living alone, having isolated themselves from one another due to the mental exhaustion and pain of being able to hear each other’s thoughts.

    It’s a common twist on a common science fiction idea, and later episodes are far bolder, but it’s a strong start and a statement of intent. The key to it is that Kino doesn’t try to save the country, or to convince them to change the mistake they’re making; she simply learns about how they live and then drives on. The ending is wordlessly heartbreaking.

  • There are two recent Westerns starring an extravagantly whiskered Kurt Russell. Quentin Tarantino directed one and I haven’t seen it yet – I’ll be very surprised if it’s better than the superb Bone Tomahawk though.
  • Despite one scene in which the camera focuses on a protracted scene of extreme violence – and does so to demonstrate that characters within the film are being forced to watch – the deaths and injuries are mostly swift and shocking. There’s a remarkable paradox of truths – that the human body is fragile and can be persuaded to give up the ghost at a second’s notice, and that flesh is resilient and can take arrows, bullets and knives as a matter of course. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who had been injured or by what until a scene escaped from the panic of an initial encounter.

    Next week, I’ll begin that journey into modern Marvel that I promised. Blame my leg-knack and holiday overindulgence for the postponement. We’ll also have thoughts on The Hateful Eight from at least one of the team as well as whatever else comes to mind.

20 Comments

  1. Xzi says:

    I could tell Supergirl was awful immediately from the trailer. I mean for one, she pronounces it kinda like “Stupergirl,” which…no comment. The flight scene looked like something out of a 90s soap opera. And then she kicks a baddie through an obvious prop that splits open in two before he actually hits it. CBS constantly runs this trailer while I’m watching The Late Show. It was a hard pass for me the first time I saw it and it’s just annoying at this point.

  2. Chaoslord AJ says:

    If John hates it it could be great, will be checking out the trailer now.

    • magogjack says:

      While a 100% agree with the sentiment, Mr.John is very right. I think he was actually too kind. They make Supergirl absolutely pathetic, it would not be out of place in the 60’s.

  3. DeFrank says:

    Bone Tomahawk is my favorite western ever. :D

  4. Anthile says:

    Kino’s Journey is fantastic. Highly recommended.

  5. heretic says:

    Hurray for Satonday Supplement! I was wondering where this was as Graham did promise me it would come, get well soon Adam.

    Cool articles this week, had not heard of Kino’s Journey so will pick it up. Likewise fun review from John and that Bone Tomahawk definitely sounds great, though after watching the trailer for it and the Hateful 8 looks like Kurt Russell really did go to one set and then the other – anyway, thanks! The Saturday supplement is cool :) keep it up

  6. InfamousPotato says:

    Yes! I was worried that this would be a one time thing, and am quite glad it isn’t. Sorry about your injuries, Adam.

  7. golem09 says:

    Graham should watch Mushishi next.

  8. andycheese says:

    Personally I thought Bone Tomahawk was okay, though it dragged a little bit. That said, when contrasted against the sheer banality of QT’s latest offering (The Hateful Eight), it comes out looking like the most exciting thing since the invention of the silver screen.

  9. Cederic says:

    “Despite one scene in which the camera focuses on a protracted scene of extreme violence”

    I get the sense that reviewer would be unable to cope with Irreversible.

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      Adam Smith says:

      I’ve coped with it several times and screened it as part of a mini film festival just after release. I mention the violence in bone tomahawk because it’s relevant to the film’s effectiveness and also because some people enjoy suspense and dread but can’t tolerate extreme or extended scenes of gore and violence. I don’t write reviews for myself.

      • Cederic says:

        Sorry, didn’t intend to cast aspersions on your personal taste in film.

        Must admit Irreversible isn’t a film I’d like to see at a festival – one for quiet reflection and maybe some recovery time.

  10. bhauck says:

    I like Supergirl a bit, entirely due to the cast. Calista Flockhart is fantastic, Melissa Benoist is pretty great in what will always threaten to be a boring role, and Chyler Leigh and David Harewood are perfectly likable actors. The irony was the point on Buffy, but I love that here they picked a little blonde who actually looks strong, rather than telling the young actress to get as thin as possible. Also, there’s a scene where she amps up her heat vision by letting her anger out, and her rage face was really terrifying.

    That said, please fire all the writers.

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      Masked Dave says:

      I’d agree with that.

      I also keep reminding myself that Arrow was a bit pants for its first season (being basically a knock-off of Gossip Girl type shows, but with fighting) before it properly found its feet and stopped being embarrassed about being a superhero show.

      So basically I’m willing to let them have crap stories for the first year because I like the actors and believe they can do good stuff. If they can’t develop it though then it’s straight into the bin.

  11. Zach Fett says:

    Bone Tomahawk was excellent, we don’t get many good westerns anymore.

    However I did feel that the “very violent scene” (anyone who’s seen it knows exactly what I’m talking about, it’s near the end of the film) felt a bit out of place.

    The whole movie was filled with very brutal and dark scenes, but that one particular scene was a bit over the top and went from a western I can recommend to anyone, to one that I’d have to add a warning to the end of every recommendation. I think the film really didn’t need it and would’ve been much better without.

    • Distec says:

      I’m usually not one for the “gore porn” strain of horror films. But as uncomfortable as the scene made me, I didn’t have a problem with it being in the film. For one reason, I always felt like the film was sublimely drawing from both “serious western” and “horrifying cannibal flick” and did so really well. A bit of shocking violence seemed inescapable in the film’s DNA.

      I also felt like it really nailed the transition from pre-encounter to post-encounter. By the third act, when things pretty much go to shit immediately, the film had to convey this crossover. Granted, it took a pretty blunt approach to this, but then I circle back to my first reason for liking it.

      If the film had been full of such scenes, I would have written it off. But here it served as an acute punctuation.

      • Distec says:

        And can I just say that Richard Jenkins was absolutely ace in this film?

        Despite seeing his name in the credits of some film reviews, I pretty much forgot it was him during its duration.

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    Carra says:

    Bone Tomahawk was a good western. Slow West was also an excellent western that came out last year.

    Westerns are a bit like Pirate movies. Everyone thinks they’re cool but they make way too little movies about them.

  13. shoptroll says:

    “Next week, I’ll begin that journey into modern Marvel that I promised.”

    *salutes*

    You’re a brave brave man Adam. I’ve been following Herald’s list for the last 5-6 months using Marvel Unlimited. Even after starting at a much later point than you are (AvX instead of Disassembled) I feel like I’m barely making headway on the Marvel NOW! list. Hopefully you have a lot more time on your hands than I do, but I wish you the best of luck. There’s definitely some good stuff to read, and you’re following a really good reading order and Dave (Herald’s editor) does a decent job of steering away from some of the dreck that I’m sure Marvel wishes to forget. Of course, he doesn’t cut out some of the lesser stuff, but that just makes one appreciate the good books even more I think.