Wednesday, December 2, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 39
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
BEST WISHES, WARMEST REGARDS: A SCHITT’S CREEK FAREWELL
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: CASA DE LAS FLORES
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARIES
BINGEABLE: OUTLANDER (2014-present)
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FISH TANK (2009)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOUSE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: OLDBOY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BLOW THE MAN DOWN
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
DA 5 BLOODS
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET
FIRST COW
GREYHOUND
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAPPIEST SEASON
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
LYING AND STEALING
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE OPERATIVE
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO SEVEN
THE VAST OF NIGHT
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BOSCH
TV REVIEW: COBRA KAI
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EVIL
TV REVIEW: FEAR CITY
TV REVIEW: GENERATION KILL (2008)
TV REVIEW: HANNIBAL (2013-2015)
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
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: JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: PANDEMIC: HOW TO PREVENT AN OUTBREAK (2020)
TV REVIEW: RAISED BY WOLVES
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MORNING SHOW
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL
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: TRIAL 4 (2020)
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
VINYL NATION

The Most Dangerous Animal of All goes in unexpected directions

TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF FX NETWORK

TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL


Where is it playing?: Hulu

What's it rated?: Not Rated

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

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

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Created by Kief Davidson (The Ivory Games) and Ross M. Dinerstein (The Innocent Man), this documentary miniseries introduces us to Gary L. Stewart, a man in search of his past. He’s always known he was adopted, but when in adulthood he meets his birth mother, Jude Gilford, he becomes obsessed with discovering who his birth father is, and whether his father is the infamous Zodiac Killer. Told through archival elements, contemporary interviews, and re-creations, one man’s search for his identity leads to unexpected revelations. (four approximately 40-min. episodes)

Glen: You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into another pedestrian true-crime TV documentary when you begin this four-part miniseries. After all, at first glance it feels like another investigative rabbit hole of laboriously piecing together and reexamining evidence and making connections the police simply missed. It’s also about the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized Northern California from the late 1960s into the early 1970s. He was never caught, but he taunted the police with letters and cryptograms and has inspired myriad movies, books, and TV documentaries like this one. What makes this particular offering interesting is it’s less about whether Gary Stewart’s biological father was a remorseless murderer and more about obsession, self-identity, memory, judgment, and the power of confirmation bias. Stewart is sure he’s solved the mystery, and indeed, he offers compelling evidence of a connection between his oddball bio-dad and the mysterious psychopath called Zodiac, who appeared to travel strangely parallel paths. If you can get through the first episode, the series is undeniably engrossing and thankfully surprising.

Anna: Theories around the elusive Zodiac are a dime a dozen, and as a true-crime junkie, I’ve stumbled across more than a few, often with major flaws in the connections. Stewart’s story and theories certainly fall into that same area, but the brilliance of this miniseries is that it travels outside of that narrow lane. While it’s easy enough to speculate on why Stewart would so doggedly want to make connections between his biological father and the monster who terrorized NorCal, it becomes clear that the draw to make any connection at all is what matters. His desire to find his birth mother has been a constant in his life, and when he was finally able to find her, he didn’t find answers. At 14 his mother ran away with the much older Earl Van Best Jr., and the events that followed seem to be a dark spot in her memory, and soon the few things she does remember don’t add up. It’s a pretty fascinating ride, and whether you buy Gary’s theories or not, there is a lot more story here than just a hunt for the killer.

Glen: As an adoptee, I’m aware of the book Stewart references early on, The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted, which argues that being separated from your birth mother results in a host of long-lasting psychological afflictions from fear of abandonment to difficulty bonding. Stewart’s been married five times and is in search of answers to his perceived character flaws. As he learns about his pedophilic father, he finds another reason to shift the blame for his difficulty connecting with others. This is clearly a case of someone latching on to an idea and finding evidence to confirm it, and when confronted with evidence that disproves his idea, he can’t accept it. It’s a common pathology and also a destructive one, and it’s important to note that Stewart spent 17 years of his life researching his father and the Zodiac, and that he wrote a New York Times Best Selling book with co-author Susan Mustafa, who’s vastly more clear-eyed about Stewart’s crumbling theory. In retrospect, she is aghast that she was swept up in Stewart’s obsession, while he’s invested so much of his time and identity in believing he’s the son of the Zodiac Killer, he simply can’t let it go. It’s almost as if 50 years later, the Zodiac has collected another victim.

Anna: Unsolved cases are infuriating, especially in cases like the Zodiac where he taunted victims and authorities for so long. If only DNA could pin this guy down as it did the Golden State Killer, Stewart and many theorists like him could put their ideas—right or wrong—to bed. Admitting Best wasn’t a famed serial killer would mean Stewart may have to admit something else: Maybe his father was just a pedophile and asshole. The man who abandoned him may not be “special” at all, even in terrible and dastardly ways. You feel for the abandoned kid in Stewart just looking for some answers. Is he reaching conclusions before finding evidence? Most certainly. Does he deserve to know and understand his birth parents and the first few months of his life? Yes, he does. I watch a lot of documentaries and series in the true-crime genre, and this one stands out for telling the story behind the story and the consequences of bending fact to fit a desired narrative.

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
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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