Joan Didion, the subject of this moving documentary now available on Netflix, is one of America’s greatest living writers. Her unsentimental, yet lyric vision surfaced in the essay “On Respect”, when she was a young sub-editor at American Vogue in the early 60s. Her voice was shaped by a child-hood spent in her birthplace, Sacramento, California, with its ethos of small c-conservatism, a West conquered by heroic pioneers and a distrust of self-pity. Yet Didion also took that bedrock of values and made a fascinating political shift – from the kind of eccentric Barry Goldwater supporter who would take down JD Salinger and Kerouac for The National Review to blossoming into the one of the Republican Party’s fiercest critics in legendary think pieces for The New York Review of Books. By the mid-70s, she became arguably the only woman who could justly claim, along with Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Terry Southern and others – that she invented a new kind of journalism.
Okja looks for all the world like a heartwarming family film about a little girl’s friendship with an adorable giant pig and that’s exactly what it is… for about twenty minutes. Director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) uses this time to lay the pipework of the plot. The multinational Mirando corporation has sent out 26 ‘superpigs’ to be raised by farmers around the world., After ten years, the healthiest and biggest pig will win a prize. We get to know 14-year-old Korean girl Mija (An Seo Hyun), who has grown up alongside her grandfather’s superpig, Okja, on his farm in rural South Korea.