Tuesday, April 20, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 7
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
BINGEABLE: BARRY
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
BOSS LEVEL
GODZILLA VS. KONG
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I CARE A LOT
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
IRRESISTIBLE
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
LYING AND STEALING
NOBODY
NOMADLAND
PALMER
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
SOUL
SUPERINTELLIGENCE
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE SUNLIT NIGHT
THE WHITE TIGER
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EVIL
TV REVIEW: FIREFLY LANE
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: ONE MISSISSIPPI
TV REVIEW: PAINTING WITH JOHN (2021)
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SERVANT
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE LADY AND THE DALE (2021)
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL
TV REVIEW: THE NEW YORK TIMES PRESENTS FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS (EPISODE 6) (2021)
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: THE THIRD DAY
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: TREADSTONE (2019)
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WANDAVISION
TV REVIEW: WARRIOR
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014)
WEWORK: OR THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF A $47 BILLION UNICORN (2021)

Lovecraft Country mixes a sociopolitical examination of American racism with pulpy B-movie horror

TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF MONKEYPAW PRODUCTIONS

TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY


Where is it playing?: HBO & HBO Max

What's it rated?: TV-MA

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Creator Misha Green teams with producers J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele to bring this fantasy horror series to life. Based on a novel by Matt Ruff, it’s set in 1950s Jim Crow-era America, and Black Korean War vet Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) teams up with his Black travel-guide-writing Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and friend Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) to go in search of his missing father, Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams). Drawn to Ardham, Massachusetts, a town famed horror writer H. P. Lovecraft supposedly set many of his fictional tales in, they discover they’re battling both the racist terrors of white America and horrifying Lovecraftian monsters. (10 53- to 68-min. episodes)

Glen: This clever mashup mixes terrifying monsters, ghosts, secret occult organizations, magic, and supernatural phenomenon with racist police, sundowner towns, and cross-burning neighbors. It’s filled with all the B-movie fun of drive-in horror flicks and a timely examination about America’s original sin—slavery and racism. Each episode is connected, but they can also feel separate. For instance, episode 7, “Meet Me in Daegu,” is set in 1949 South Korea and follows Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung), a beautiful young woman who turns out to be a mythical monster, Kumiho, who must kill 100 men to become human again. She decides to seduce and kill Atticus, thus connecting to the previous episodes. Expect a lot of gore and a lot of insightful examination of racism in America. Another episode is about a potion that allows a Black woman to become white, as she revels in the way she’s treated by other white people. It’s fun and serious at the same time.

Anna: What a ride Lovecraft Country is, a chef’s kiss blend of drama and horror. When we first meet Atticus, he’s bound and determined to find his missing father and sets out with his Uncle George and Leti, and soon enough it becomes clear that their journey has taken a wild turn. There are forest monsters and invisible force fields; blond-haired, blue-eyed captors; and occult magic in the works. You definitely need to be OK with gore to get through this series; besides monster attacks there is enough blood, guts, and skin-shedding to make anyone squirm. Beyond the bigger story, Lovecraft Country gets personal with Atticus and his wounded past as a veteran and the budding relationship between himself and Leti. It’s hard to peel your eyes away from the screen. 

Glen: Smollett and Majors are really compelling as the two leads. Despite the B-movie shlock of a lot of the story, the two never waiver in their commitment to the material. I guess Smollett came to fame in the TV series Full House (1992-94), which I’d never seen. I’ve seen her in a number of films but never put together it was the same actress, which to me is a testament to her ability to disappear into a role. Here she plays a strong, talented Black woman struggling to find her place in a white world. Majors is a relative newcomer. I first noticed him in The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019), where he turned in a quiet, sublime performance, and then in Da 5 Bloods (2020), Spike Lee’s newest. He’s a natural and brings a vulnerability and inherent nobility to Atticus, who it turns out is somehow connected by blood to a weird cult. The implication is that his bloodline was conceived in rape by a white slave owner and cult member. We’re seven episodes into a 10-episode season, and it’s so interesting and well done that I’ll probably watch it through again.

Anna: I’ll be right there re-watching with you. There’s so much going on, and the story seems to come out in chunks that the audience pieces together week after week. Added to the mix is William (Jordan Patrick Smith), who seems to be the appointed leader of the cult, and mysterious Christina Braithwhite (Abbey Lee), who seemingly knows secrets about everyone. There’s time loops and shapeshifting, downright creepy ceremonies, and rooms full of mystery. With names like J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele behind it, you know it’s gonna get weird. It’s just the kind of weird I’m here for though, not just a shock of gore and horror, but an actual story to back it up. I loved that episode you mentioned that took us to South Korea and out of the world we were previously in yet still connected to Atticus’ character while building his backstory. Majors is just great here, and Smollett brings the same game to her performance. The costuming is fantastic, the gore is visceral, and the story just keeps on giving. I can’t wait to see where the rest of this season goes. 

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










Weekly Poll
Do you agree with the Santa Maria City Council's decision to regulate mobile car wash operations?

Yes. There's a reason the city receives lots of complaints about them.
No. These are people's livelihoods on the line, during a pandemic no less.
I understand the need to regulate, but I still want access to quick and easy car washing!
Car washes are a waste of money; just do it yourself.

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