At Home : Captive Audience, Billy the Kid, We Own This City, A Taste of Hunger & more!

Reviews of what’s streaming and on digital this week

Stan/Magnolia/HBO/Children of SIn

Captive Audience

Streaming. Fans of true crime podcasts, and those old enough to remember the heavily-publicized ‘80s mini-series “I Know my first name is Steven” will be particularly interested in this captivating new three-part expose on a shocking case that stirred parents to their core waybackwhen.

Jessica Dimmock’s “Captive Audience” (Hulu) tells the harrowing and horrible true story of Steven Stayner, a young boy snatched from his family  by monstrous predator Kenneth Parnell. Telling him his family didn’t want him back, Kenneth drove Stayner some 360 miles from his hometown, renamed him ‘Dennis’, and abused him for seven years, while portraying himself as his father.

Via news footage, and interviews with Stayner’s children, wife, and mother, we learn the grisly, unsettling details of the Stayner case and of the young man’s tragic death aged just 24.

In Part 3 of the documentary, Dimmock fixes on the murders of four females at Yosemite in the late ‘90s – and how that case linked back to the Stayner family. [CC]


We Own This City

Streaming. The always-stupendous Jon Bernthal, accompanied by screen staples like Treat Williams (back in police mode here after his classic turn in “Prince of the City” in the early ‘80s), helps punch HBO copper drama “We Own This City” beyond the ropes.

Set in Baltimore, the series fixes around the Gun Trace Task Force operating out of BPD.  Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, it explores the seedy underbelly of the series -well, of course – with many of our central tin men as crooked as a bent steel pipe. Former “90210” star Gabrielle Cateris surprises, giving an extremely solid turn, as the lead of the BPD’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

While it doesn’t grab and command the way “The Wire” did week after week, this similar-themed series from David Simon is nonetheless well-worth bookmarking. [CC]


Billy the Kid

Streaming. New Epix/Stan series “Billy the Kid” is the oranges to “Young Guns”’ apples.  A modern origin-story of the 19th century bushranger, the Michael Hurst-crafted series paints a more truthful and detailed portrait of the legendary felon’s (played here by Tom Blyth) history – but is it as entertaining as its predecessors?

Beginning with his years as orphaned boy Henry McCarty, his father’s suicide, and the bond he has with his mother, the first episode fixes largely on how tough it was for an Irishman to replant in America. Struggling, ‘Billy’ takes for New Mexico and falls in with the outlaw Jesse Evans and his gang. It’s during that time that he travels down the road he cannot return, killing a man in self-defence. It’s then that the series follows the storyline of the original “Young Guns” (1988), without the rock soundtrack and magazine-ready ensemble, with Billy getting caught up in the Lincoln County War – facing off against the corrupt scoundrel, John Tunstall.

Largely exploring the reasons why Billy became known as a hero, “Billy the Kid” is an engrossing watch. The series barely scratches the surface of his life, so no doubt plans are afoot for a follow-up season or two. [CC]


A Taste of Hunger

On Demand. A truly unique offering from Danish film director Christoffer Boe, the divine-looking “A Taste of Hunger” explores a couple’s pursuit of the biggest medal in the cooking industry – the Michelin star.

“A Taste of Hunger” is as much about the restaurant world as “Spanglish” and “The Sopranos” were though. While it definitely uses food, and the art of which it’s prepared, as a vital character, the Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Charlie Gustafsson-starring family drama is largely concerned with the home lives of our culinary duo.

Coster-Waldau as powerful, extremely intense, as Carsten, a cook who seemingly puts her work before his home life – and his family look to be sacrificed as a result. Not afraid to punish his children for accidents in the kitchen or fire employees for simple mistakes, cooking is brain surgery as far as he’s concerned. As a result of his time around the stove, the relationship to his devoted wife Maggie Katrine Greis-Rosenthal) also starts to take a hit.

While it’s a little thinly written in areas, giving us nothing but brief insights into the characters backstories, and the cliches seep out from here and there, there’s still an enjoyable film to nibble on here. [CC]


Children of Sin

On Demand. “Flowers in the Attic” meets “This Boy’s Life” , if you will, the new independent release “Children of Sin” tells the familiar tale of a couple of kids being sent away to a terrifying religious retreat, Abraham House, and their pursuit to break out so they can rescue their momma from the scoundrel stepfather who forced them into the scary seminary.

One that’ll likely divide audiences, not because of the genre but because of the strong themes the ambitious horror offering brings up (Christians will likely be up in arms about some of the goings on here), Christopher Moore’s “Children of Sin” is nonetheless a remarkable effort for a relatively new director.  This guy has something to say in his movies, and that’s going to get him far. [ML]

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