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.
- John has been watching Supergirl. For his own sake, I hope he stops watching it soon.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.