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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Homecoming’ makes for an intriguing binge-watch


Funny all the stuff you can find to do during a self-isolating quarantine. And what you can discover while doing it.

Example: I was sorting out the cupboards yesterday and found cans of stuff dated 2012. Seems I need to keep better tabs on our pantry items.

But then that might cut into the time I spend watching movies and other streaming material. One of our latest binge-watches: the Amazon Prime limited series "Homecoming," which premiered in the fall of 2018.

Starring Julia Roberts (who did double duty as one of the executive producers), Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James and Shea Whigham, the 10-part limited series uses a blend of soft sci-fi and hard mystery to explore a range of contemporary issues. Those issues range from how we treat veterans to the ways those in power can badger their underlings — especially when those in power are men and the underlings are women.

Roberts plays Heidi Bergman, a managing counselor at Homecoming, a privately contracted company that is providing help to veterans having trouble readjusting to civilian life. Cannavale is Colin Belfast, Heidi's boss, while James is Walter Cruz, Heidi's client. And Whigham is Thomas Carrasco, a low-level Department of Defense functionary who is investigating a complaint leveled against Homecoming.

Told in short bursts — each episode, directed by Sam Esmail,  is barely longer than a half hour — "Homecoming" ends up being a fairly simple storyline (which I won't give away), marked by a fairly open ending (a second season is in the works), good acting and impressive production values.

The acting is particularly good, from Roberts, whose character gradually recovers a suppressed memory about her actions at Homecoming, to Cannavale, an actor with a likable quality who explores his dark side here. James, so good in the 2018 film "If Beale Street Could Talk," is refreshing as Heidi's chief client. And Whigham, who played a violent thug in the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," is effective as a bumbling but doggedly conscientious investigator.

And the production values, from a framing conceit involving past and present storylines, to the use of music — some of which seems almost (but not quite) to work against the seriousness of what's occurring onscreen — are uniquely well done.

Word is that Julia Roberts won't be returning for Season Two but that James will. And that Janelle Monáe and Chris Cooper will be joining in. I'll surely be joining in, too.

But for now, I'm just glad I watched Season One. And that it kept me from checking out the rest of my pantry.

Who knows what I might find next? Judge Crater?

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