“Under the Sky Banner” flies high, while “Shining Girls” doesn’t fly high 2022-04-28 07:55:29

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Playing like a cross between “True Detective” and “Big Love,” “Under the Banner of Heaven” begins with the gruesome murders of a woman (Daisy Edgar Jones) and her child, revealing the kind of dark secrets that small communities that have risen to a state of true crime seem to contain.
Adapted from Jon Krakauer’s book by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), stars the seven-episode series. Andrew Garfield – Exiting “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and an Oscar nod for “Tick, Tick…Boom!” – as Jeb Pyre, the detective who seized the case, which leaves widowed husband Allen Lafferty (Billy Howle) as the prime suspect. But the investigation found more sinister roots pointing to a larger conspiracy, involving the sprawling Lafferty family’s embrace of fundamentalist principles and the sordid practices associated with them.

Meanwhile, Pyre is a family man and church member, whose faith is tested by the grim nature of the crime and the defensive response from local officials. Balanced by his grizzly partner (Jill Birmingham), he’s an outsider who’s more than willing to play the bad cop if that’s what’s required.

The frame was a bit flabby, as flashbacks slowly obscured how an outspoken woman could become a target for murder. Nor does it help to get the narration back into a story Church founder Joseph Smith And those origins—an element of the book, as presented in this fashion, somewhat distract from the more recent plot, as if the story had taken a sudden turn in the history channel of the documentary drama.

However, the central puzzle provides a strong hook, and the material is levitated by an extraordinarily good staff, with Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell and Rory Culkin as Allen’s older brothers, with Allen saying adorably, “I couldn’t hear the Holy Spirit in the same way that Allen had My brothers do it” after they told Bear, “You may not be as good of a Mormon as you think.”

Not only is “Under the Banner of Heaven” a great show, but it’s a very good one, which is more than can be said for “Shining Girls,” which mostly squanders a cast under the titles of Elisabeth Moss, who also serves as producer. .

Elisabeth Moss and Wagner Mora in Shining Girls, '  Premiere on Apple TV +.
Based on Lauren Beukes’ novel, the project features Moss as Kirby, a newspaper archival employee who survives a brutal attack but finds her reality is constantly changing, as if the playing field is being reset. Her search for answers led her to collaborate with a reporter (“Narcos” star Wagner Mouraunemployed), somehow seeks to connect a chain of victims spread across decades.

Jimmy Bell co-stars as a mysterious time traveler, while Philippa Sue (“Hamilton”) is another potential victim. However, the interpretation of this sci-fi-style spin on a serial killer story is left somewhat murky despite the obligatory flashbacks – it’s not clear what the rules are – and not that these details make much of a difference as the project begins putting the thriller down a stretch.

Moss is clearly a draw, but she can only do so much with a thin, confusing material. While “Shining Girls” may seem intriguing at first glance, by the time one has watched its disappointing eight episodes come to an end, its light has begun to flicker, and for viewers it will be too late to hit the reset button.

“Under the Banner of Heaven” premieres April 28 on Hulu.

“Shining Girls” premieres April 29th on Apple TV+. (Disclosure: My wife works for an Apple division.)

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