ZeroZeroZero

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If you want scope, ZeroZeroZero has it. This show is huge. An Italian production primarily, but set across multiple countries – primarily Italy, Mexico and the United States – in multiple languages, with funding coming from multiple regions, this show is BigBigBig. And for the audience that grew up on Scarface, Cocaine Cowboys and Traffic – or any of a hundred other shows about international drag trafficking – this epic mini-series could be a dream prospect.

The show examines a massive international cocaine deal from multiple viewpoints, including the buyers in Italy, the cartels in Mexico, the soldiers in Mexico (the cops being way out of their league and mainly in league with the cartels) and the “brokers”, based in New Orleans, who essentially provide the ship, in this case a massive tanker. Things to do with many aspects of this mammoth deal go wrong, often lethally, and we examine the various twists and turns from multiple perspectives, jumping back and forth in time, holding flashbacks-within-flashbacks, zooming from the widest canvas to the most intimate moment.

The protagonist (among many lead characters) is played by Andrea Riseborough, who inherits her father’s shipping company, his interest in the global drug trade, and this massive deal, when Dad (Gabriel Byrne) gets felled. She’s supported by her younger brother, played by Dane DeHaan, who somehow manages to pull off playing what I think is meant to be, if not a teenager, then a very young adult. Regardless, they’re very much ‘the kids’, learning the ropes in the middle of the biggest deal, and the biggest mess, one could imagine.

The driving creative force behind all this is Stefano Sollima, who is very good at this sort of thing: his directing credits include the TV show Gomorrah and the movies Suburra and Sicario: Day of the Soldado. If you’re into any of his previous work, you’ll be into this: it’s that kind of thing, on the largest possible canvas, epic, exciting and exhilarating.

Coming Soon To SBS in Australia on May 14.

Hunters (Amazon) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

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Even though he may have aged out of being a massive box office drawer, Al Pacino is still a Big Deal Movie Star, and thus his first TV series is a Big Deal. Shame then, that – based on the movie-length pilot, and I won’t be watching any more episodes – Hunters (Amazon) is such an agonisingly bad choice for his streaming debut. Garish, sadistic and desperate to please, it is also deeply offensive, so much so I’m staggered it was green lit, made and is now being screened.

The premise is that in late 1970s New York, there is a ragtag team of Nazi hunters, led by Pacino’s Meyer Offerman, a concentration camp survivor, hunting Nazis in America. Indoctrinating a young fella whose survivor-grandmother has been coldly murdered by one of these rogue Nazis, Offerman and co also face a potential new Nazi movement in the US – a Fourth Reich.

Nazi hunting is certainly not unprecedented as dramatic fodder; The Boys from Brazil (1978) was always playing on Sunday night TV when I was a kid. That film was nominated for three Oscars and is considered pretty classy. There are plenty of smaller films, such as Remember (2015) and The German Doctor (2013) that try to wrestle with the human side of evil and approach the subject with some form of integrity.

But it is integrity that is wholly absent in Hunters. This is cartoon stuff and brutally insensitive. I knew I was out halfway through the pilot episode when a ‘human chess game’ is depicted at a Nazi concentration camp: a mean Nazi commander plays chess with one of the prisoners, using other prisoners armed with knives as living pieces; when they ‘take’ each other, they slaughter each other. I cannot imagine how I would feel, seeing this sequence, were I a camp survivor. “Your experience,” the show is saying, “wasn’t horrible enough, so we’ve invented this.”

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Meanwhile, on the altogether more classy HBO, Larry David delivers a tenth season of his comedy of manners Curb Your Enthusiasm (on Foxtel in Australia). There’s no reason for him to; after all, just like his character (who is himself), Larry is loaded, beyond any mortal’s wildest dreams (estimates are around the billion dollar mark, from royalties and ongoing sales of Seinfeld, which David co-created). But #metoo has happened to the world since Season Nine, so it stands to reason it should happen to Larry, who, while no predator, ticks every other box for being in the movement’s crosshairs. Watching Real Larry and Fictional Larry duke it out onscreen – where does one stop and the other start? – in this heightened environment gives the season a definite edge it hasn’t had since about Season Three, and makes it worth watching. That, and the fact that, as usual, it’s really funny.