Sunday, January 17, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 46
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A VIGILANTE
BEST WISHES, WARMEST REGARDS: A SCHITT’S CREEK FAREWELL
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGEABLE: BARRY
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: 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
DA 5 BLOODS
ENOLA HOLMES
FIRST COW
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAPPIEST SEASON
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
HONEST THIEF
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
LYING AND STEALING
MANK
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
SOUL
SUPERINTELLIGENCE
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
THE OPERATIVE
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE PROM
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO SEVEN
THE VAST OF NIGHT
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BOSCH
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EVIL
TV REVIEW: FEAR CITY
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: 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 FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW (SEASON 11)
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: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014)
WONDER WOMAN 1984

HBO’s The Plot Against America paints an alternate reality in which Charles Lindbergh beats FDR to become U.S. president

TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF HBO

TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA


Where is it playing?: HBO

What's it rated?: TV-MA

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Based on Philip Roth’s acclaimed 2004 novel of the same name and developed for HBO by collaborators Ed Burns and David Simon (The Wire, Generation Kill), The Plot Against America imagines an alternate reality in which famed aviator and xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh wins the presidency over FDR in 1940 based on Lindbergh’s isolationist anti-war views. The story is told from the point of view of a working-class Jewish family who witnesses fascism springing up around them. (six 60-min. episodes)

Glen: The premise of this miniseries feels very timely since the White House is currently occupied by a xenophobic populist. The themes it touches on—for instance, the insidious way fascism insinuates itself into a culture or the way demagogues scapegoat the “other” as the source of “real” Americans’ problems—feels frighteningly relevant. The Levins are the family in question: hardworking patriarch Herman (Morgan Spector), devoted mother and wife Elizabeth (Zoe Kazan), and their two sons—the oldest artistically inclined son, Sandy (Caleb Malis); and the youngest, Philip (Azhy Robertson). Philip seems to be a stand-in for author Roth as a child, who based some details of the story on his own family. Philip’s cousin, Alvin (Anthony Boyle), also lives with the family and wants to fight Nazis. Philip’s aunt, Evelyn Finkel (Wynonna Ryder), also plays a prominent role as she starts a relationship with Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Turturro). The rabbi becomes an ally to Lindbergh and something of a traitor to his fellow Jews, who believe America should intervene in World War II to save the European Jews from Hitler. So far, we’re three episodes into the six-episode drama and I’m hooked! I can’t wait for the next installment.

Anna: The family dynamic is a really interesting part of this series, and once Evelyn starts dating Lindbergh-supporting Rabbi Bengelsdorf, the tension comes to a head, especially between her and Herman. She’s the spinster older sister who has a shot at love, and if that means adjusting her views to line up with her new beau, she has no problem doing that. Herman also has a hot-and-cold relationship with Alvin, who just can’t keep himself out of trouble. Watching this world through the eyes of the children, Philip is a great lens. The nostalgia of yesteryear is palpable, as is the fear of what can happen when the wrong people are in power. Blame and hate get tossed like grenades, even in the small world of a family—at the end of the day, they all have to sit at the same dinner table. I’m glad we weren’t able to binge this all in one sitting; having it doled out week by week means I really sop up all the detail of the storyline.

Glen: Everything from the sets to the cars to the costuming feels spot on, and the acting is first rate. It’s something of a slow burn, which for the material feels like the right choice. Sure, they could have further condensed Roth’s story, but instead, the miniseries takes its time to fully develop its complicated ideas about a complicated country. What strikes me the most is the feeling of having no control over events. The Levins see their country heading in the wrong direction; they see their fellow Americans drawn into these terrible ideological stances. It’s like watching an accident in slow motion and wanting to stop it, but instead you can only watch in disbelief as it unfolds.

Anna: It’s really well crafted, and the performances are out of the park. I haven’t read Roth’s novel, but after starting this series I definitely plan to. It feels alarmingly real, especially in a time of upheaval and uncertainty. Watching an alternate reality from one change in history brings into sharp focus the power of those we vote into office. I’m a big fan of the structure of a miniseries—it allows a lot more time and storyline than a movie but doesn’t devolve into repetition or a convoluted storyline that sometimes happens with a full-on series. Though I haven’t seen the upcoming episodes, I have no doubt it will bookend nicely with episode 6. If you have access to HBO, be sure to check this one out. It’s visually beautiful and doesn’t fall short on story. 

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










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