Just when we thought we might have a light shovelling winter, it hits. Oh well, at least you can curl up in front of the TV with some new releases. This week kicks off with the new HBO series Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season. Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors), his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of Atticus’ missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams). Together they must survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and terrifying monsters that seem to be ripped from another dimension. Their journey forces them to challenge what they think of America as well as what they may think they know about the entire Universe.
Lovecraft Country is exactly the series I needed in 2020. Aside from the incredible cast including Majors, Smollett, Vance, Williams and more, all putting in out of this world performances, but the production design on this show is just next level. Not to mention the writing, which brilliantly blends the racial tensions of the 50s with a wonderous science fiction fantasy story is just superb. The social commentary is more relevant than ever and the makers of Lovecraft Country certainly pull no punches in their storytelling here. Fun, scary, epic, intimate, raucous, addictive and thought provoking are not descriptors that usually accompany each other on one show, but Lovecraft Country is a wonderful exception to the rule. Very highly recommended.
Next up this week is a DVD set that was actually released last week but deserves some attention. Helter Skelter: An American Myth is a new six part documentary series from ePix on the true crime case of Charles Manson, the infamous murders in the summer of 1969, and the subsequent trial. Featuring never-before-accessed interviews from former family members and journalists first on the scene and in the courtroom, this layered and complex story will cast an entirely new light on this Crime of the Century.
The first thing you may think about Helter Skelter: An American Myth is ‘really? Don’t we already know all there is to know about the most infamous murders in American history? The answer is yes, for the most part. As an avid reader/watcher of true crime, I have to say I was impressed with the sheer amount of archival and interview footage in this series. While very little information was revealed that I didn’t know (although there was some), the main thing I got from this doc was a fleshing out of the story through the huge selection of footage assembled. News footage, crime scene footage, interviews old and new, there was just so much it was fascinating to see the story told through footage of the time instead of talking heads discussing it. There was a little bit of repetitiveness in the series, a few stories told a few times over that was unnecessary and could have easily been edited out, but overall this really is the definitive documentary on the Manson Family case. Helter Skelter: An American Myth is highly recommended for true crime buffs.
Also of note this week is the Blu-ray debut of the classic teen drama Pump Up the Volume with Christian Slater, a new horror film co-written and directed by Canada’s own Jay Baruchel, Random Acts of Violence with Jesse Williams, and the acclaimed HBO documentary Six by Sondheim.
Until next week movie lovers, stay safe!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday February 16, 2021
A Call to Spy
Baby Doll (1956)*
Bordertown: Season 2 (2019)
Fear of Rain
Good Burger (1997)*
Harley Quinn: The Complete First and Second Seasons
Jetsons: The Movie (1990)*
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind Part 2 Limited Edition
Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)*
Mandabi (1968)* - Criterion Collection
Mardi Gras Massacre (1978)*
On Moonlight Bay (1951)*
Pump Up the Volume (1990)*
Random Acts of Violence (2019)
San Francisco (1936)*
Shameless: The Complete Tenth Season
Six by Sondheim
The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954)*
The Cowboy Way (1994)*
The Informer (2019)
The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)*
The Underneath (1996)*
The Unseen (1980)*
The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee
The War (1994)*
Wisting: Season 1
*Catalog Blu-ray debut