Movie houses, including Waterville’s Railroad Square Theatre and Flagship Cinemas, are dark.

But the business of making movies, and the electricity of creation never stops. The writers and actors are still out there somewhere, putting together great entertainment for you.

No popcorn, but help is at hand.

My weekly film review column is starting a new adventure this week by taking you to that big box in your living room.

We begin with “The Plot Against America,” an HBO six-part mini-series that began this week with such a powerful episode, that for one hour at least, will mercifully drag you away from that dreadful invisible thing out there in the dark that is dominating our lives.

“Plot Against America,” created and written for HBO by David Simon, who created “The Wire” and “Treme,” the mini-series set in New Orleans, is based on the novel by Philip Roth that came out in 2004.

In “Plot,” Roth concocts a frighting alternative history that imagines Franklin D. Roosevelt losing the 1940 presidential election to America’s biggest hero, aviator Charles Lindbergh, who flew across the Atlantic and into the hearts and minds of millions everywhere.

Roth’s novel is actually based on the true headlines of that moment in American history. It is in no way a History Channel documentary, but a dark and riveting alternative drama of how America, seduced by Lindbergh’s charm and fearless audacity, surrendered to, and embraced Hitler and Nazi Germany. Think “Man In The Dark Tower” with a more realistic view and better writing.

It shows Charles Lindbergh, (Ben Cole, “Manifest”) as the real anti-semite and fascist dupe that he was, being persuaded to run against Roosevelt and becoming the 32nd president of America.

In Roth’s novel and Simon’s vivid and terrifying replaying, Lindbergh, caught up in the tsunami of adoration, accepted. And won.

Lindbergh is the shining rock in the middle of these swirling rapids, but he actually plays the smallest part.

The focus is on the Jewish American Levin family, a fictionalized version of Roth’s family who lived in the Weequahic section of Newark, New Jersey, which includes Weequahic High School from which Roth graduated.

It’s 1940, the Nazis are storming through Europe, and America isn’t ready for war. The Jews of America aren’t yet aware of the holocaust. Most of America isn’t paying attention at all to war news, and those who do, don’t want anything to do with it.

We meet the Levin family, with parents Herman (Morgan Spector “Homeland”), and Bess (Zoe Kazan “Big Sick”) and sons Sandy (Caleb Malis) and Philip (Azhy Robertson “Marriage Story”) and cousin Alvin (Anthony Boyle “Ordeal by Innocence.”)

Herman is about to be promoted in his insurance company, and looking for a new home away from the apartment in the Jewish neighborhood he grew up in, where the families all pour out onto the stoops and sidewalks on hot summer nights.

The talk of Lindbergh against Roosevelt is scoffed at. “He’d never stand a chance against Roosevelt,” they say. “Roosevelt will mop the floor with him.”

When the Levins drive to see the new neighborhood, they find it to be heavily German American, with beer gardens where men sing patriotic German songs from the old days, and taunt the Jewish strangers driving by.

“There’s a lot of hatred out there,” one of Herman’s relatives tells him. Yes, there is, and it runs all through this movie like a virus.

Herman has a friend who runs a movie theatre, featuring footage from Germany with scenes of the frightening news of the great nation of France suddenly surrendering to Hitler after only a week or two.

Bess’s sister Evelyn (Winona Ryder “Little Women”) is having an affair with a gentile salesman who won’t marry her because she’s a Jew. That will end when Evelyn meets and develops a relationship with the charismatic Southern political firebrand Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Tuturro “The Great Lebowski”) who is rising in Lindbergh’s upcoming “cabinet.”

Turtutto’s character is one of the hot coals that ignites the fire in the last moments of the show’s first hour, fueled by the kindling ready to burst into flames within the Levin family, the city of Newark and all of America.

The parallels with 2020 America are sprinkled throughout this hour like pieces of broken glass on the streets of Jersey’s beaches. The previews of the next five hours shiver with beatings, shootings and bodies of Jews in New Jersey’s streets. Family loyalty is shredded, resulting in the dissolution of the Jewish traditions in the Levin family.

The shared heartbreak between fictional sisters Ryder and Kazan is so beautifully written, one pure hearted, the other disillusioned, is so real it hurts to watch. Both actors are superb.

Cinematographer Martin Ahlgren’s (“House of Cards”) work is reminiscent of the work of the late great Gordon Willis who shot Francis Coppola’s “Godfather,” with its amber-shaded afternoons and deep-threatening night shadows.

With this first hour pointing the way, the next five hours of “Plot Against America” will clutter the shelves of all involved with Emmys.

“The Plot Against America” started on HBO (Monday, March 16) and will be airing weekly on HBO for five more Mondays.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

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