The Killing: For me it doesn’t get any better than this. No really. This soggy, brooding kind of drama is exactly what I need from time to time but rarely get. The fact it doesn’t feel American (it was based on a Danish drama though is set in the Pacific Northwest for the AMC version), a prime candidate for a Spot the Canadian Drinking Game, as well as features Michelle Forbes couldn’t hurt either. The only bit I am finding hard to deal with is the fact the lead lady looks like a female Macaulay Culkin to me around the eyes and mouth and complexion. I’m trying to work through that because it is superficial, but it is there all the same. Can’t unsee it.
The Killing is about a working class community and a family who loses a daughter in the worst possible way. They are desperate for answers even as the ones they get paint a very different picture of their daughter’s life and the community they live in. The lead investigator is on her last day of the job and is giving her pervy successor some training before she moves down to California. The more she investigates the crime the more she is drawn in. She is sorta off herself. A little frosty, wearing a baggy coat and squinty. All of that while not being quirky as a lot of crime dramas try to make their protagonists these days. She is a person, a character, not a characteristic. What a daring move on their part not to go with the current trends.
The show starts off slow, but by the end of the two part premiere you are fully sucked in to the mystery, everyone is a suspect, and you want to put on your own baggy coat and start slogging around their desaturated world. You can watch the first two episodes streaming on AMC. And do, please.
Ouran High School Host Club: I watched this series in less than a week on hulu (although now they only have the first four eps available). Normally the title alone would have scared me off, but after getting my sister to watch Coffee Prince she returned the favor and said this anime was similar. Well, it wasn’t that similar besides the gender play, but the nature of the secret is different among other basic things. Poor honor student Haruhi gets admitted to a posh school and through a series of unfortunate events becomes obligated to the most extravagant of the clubs at the school. The host club is where a group of bored rich boys entertain equally bored rich girls and use their time and money to create this fantasy fulfillment business. Haruhi is mistaken for a boy when she shows up bespeckled and in baggy, commoner clothes and gets swept up as a junior member of their club in order to repay a debt. It doesn’t take long (at least for most of them) to catch on to the fact she is a girl and a pretty one at that. Host clubs are a strange phenomenon in Japan and it isn’t surprising they made an anime about it. The real life clubs are a lot more seedy than this. Here they keep it to tea and flattery.
A Wind From the South: I knew about Diane Duane from old Star Trek books, but it wasn’t until recently I found out she was still writing and had written her own original stories over the years. A lot of them are YA (which I have zero interest in. Blame HBO.) but a recent release is for adults and bridged that impassable gap for me. It is about a girl in a medieval Swiss mountain village who encounters a passing stranger and from that point on is awake to a voice in the breeze that disturbs her simply plotted out life. There is a lot of mythology throughout the story. There is a Christian type of order most subscribe to which seems to me to be an adequate construction by which people can interact with the larger mythology to some extent. A bridge between them and the real stuff that is happening under the surface. That larger mythology is much older than that and consists of things that have fallen through the cracks over the years but appear to be stirring now that someone is there to listen. It is a riff on traditional lore in most respects. The story is a series of tests, but the larger journey is following the voice on the wind and preparing herself to face the source that may or may not have her interest at heart despite its help over the years.
Oh Land: Music by a Danish ballerina who could pull off being a vintage Bond girl? I say yes.