Young Jonah begins being drawn into things by the murder of his grandmother and sole living relative, Holocaust survivor Ruth (Jeannie Berlin). This leads to him meeting Ruth’s friend and fellow death-camp survivor Meyer Offerman (Pacino) and, in fairly short order, to learn that Offerman leads a Technicolor team of crack Nazi hunters.
This is no standard-issue band of scowling Israelis. They include a butt-kickin’ African-American woman (Tiffany Boone), an Asian-American assassin (Louis Ozawa), a former MI6 agent who wears a nun’s habit (Australian Kate Mulvany), and an old married couple (the ever-delightful Carol Kane and Saul Rubinek).
Surprisingly enough, this hasn’t all been lifted from some cult comic-book series, but certain shots are unexpectedly rendered in comic-book style as the series stretches for a sort of visual hipness it doesn’t actually need. What Hunters could really have done without, though, is its invention and graphic depiction of fictional Nazi atrocities to justify the torture and killing of Nazi characters.
The Nazis’ real crimes should be remembered forever; to dream up new ones for entertainment purposes seems in poor taste, to say the least. But series creator David Weil, himself the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor, says the show has a purpose beyond entertainment: to help prevent a future Holocaust, in part by showing how living, breathing human beings can be converted to causes as vile as Nazism.
The intent to understand the enemy is there from the start in Hunters as Jonah emerges from a showing of Star Wars talking about how Darth Vader probably didn’t see himself as a bad guy. Nazi characters too get chances to explain why they think they’re in the right. But such musing certainly doesn’t overwhelm the cleverly contrived story and spectacle, and those who are keen just to see Pacino as a Talmud-quoting Bruce Wayne won’t be disappointed.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga
There’s an emotional grit and resonance to this fictionalised version of the Wu-Tang Clan story that immediately outclasses the empty opulence and violence of the wildy popular Power (which is also on Stan).
As the early episodes unfold with future Wu-Tang members slinging crack in ’90s New York, it’s clear that young Bobby Diggs (Ashton Sanders) – the man who would become rapper and series creator RZA – is the one most committed to using music as a way out. Even non-fans can dig it.
Night on Earth
You might get lured in by the autoplay trailer promising great white sharks hunting by South African city lights, but there’s loads of equally amazing stuff just in the “Dark Seas” episode of Netflix’s new big-ticket nature-documentary series.
Ultra-sensitive cameras capture footage of everything from whale sharks feeding to dolphins lighting up neon-blue in silhouettes of bioluminescent plankton, and corals fighting for reef space (pro tip: push your guts outside your body and start digesting your opponent alive). Eye-opening television.
SBS On Demand
There’s an unpolished quality, some bizarre character dynamics and some interesting potential in this series about a young Sydney couple in an exceedingly busy open relationship. Pansexual artist Emma (Rebecca Robertson) has invited her musician lover, River (Rowan Davie), to live with her in an inner-suburbs share house, but they’ve neglected to set rules about who else they can have sex with, where and when. This proves quite an oversight, but it’s Emma’s struggle with mental illness that’s more immediately intriguing.
I Am Not Okay with This
Imagine Stephen King gate-crashing Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club. The clothes, the interiors and the Prefab Sprout all scream “1980s”, but this captivating new teen horror-drama series from the producers of Stranger Things is set in the present day – it just has a load of that fashionable temporal ambiguity.
In a Pennsylvania rust-belt town, awkward 17-year-old Sydney (Sophia Lillis), little brother Liam (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong) and overworked mum Maggie (Kathleen Rose Perkins) are trying to scrape by under the weight of Sydney’s father’s suicide.
When Sydney begins developing some sort of supernatural power – or supernatural curse – everything gets weird, scary and really dangerous. Lillis, who earned plaudits for Sharp Objects and It, is brilliant as an instinctive wallflower trying to keep a lid on roiling emotions. She has great chemistry with her It castmate Wyatt Oleff and does a lot of her best work in the show’s quieter moments.
The scripts, based on the graphic novel by Charles Forsman, cut through convention to hit emotional bone.
Support is available by phoning Lifeline on 131 114 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The problem with clone soldiers is that they don’t have heaps of individual personality. The solution in the seventh and final season of this CGI Star Wars series?
Write in a bunch of “defective” clones with “desirable mutations”. That way you can have an edgy hard case who looks like Charlie Sheen in Platoon but with face tatts; an overgrown knife maniac; a skinny brainbox who wears glasses, and so on.
As always, the vehicles and backdrops look great but Obi-Wan Kenobi’s beard looks like Lego plastic.
*Stan and this masthead is owned by Nine.