STYLISH “RATCHED” OOZES WITH MENACE; CABLE PREVIEW – PART 3
A Film Review by Tim Riley
“RATCHED” ON NETFLIX Television show creator, producer and writer Ryan Murphy seems to have a penchant for sex, violence and the macabre, if one were to judge his work by the series “American Horror Story.” That particular FX series might as well have included a whole new season of “Ratched,” now streaming on Netflix, a series based on the character in the Ken Kesey novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the movie of the same title. The setting of “Ratched” is 1947 and Sarah Paulson’s Nurse Ratched may be intended to be an origin story for the character that Louise Fletcher delivered so brilliantly in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in a cold and heartless manner.
Fans of Ryan Murphy’s work may care little about any comparisons to the 1975 movie. In “Ratched,” there’s no Jack Nicholson’s R.P. McMurphy to rally scared patients in a mental institution to rebel against Fletcher’s oppressive Nurse Ratched.The eight-episode series may be bingeworthy to anyone curious enough to learn how Nurse Ratched evolves from a conflicted character who shows signs of being alternately empathetic to calculating to downright malicious.
The series opens with a disturbingly gruesome slaying of four Catholic priests in their parsonage by Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock), who is then committed to Lucia State Hospital to determine whether he is sane enough to stand trial.Six months later, Nurse Ratched arrives at the asylum located in a gorgeous coastal California area that looks close to Big Sur. She brashly talks her way into an interview with hospital director Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones). After scheming her way into a nurse position, Ratched discovers head nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis) suspicious of her intentions and not thrilled to have her joining the staff, leading to obvious tension between the two.
Ratched takes a keen interest in Tolleson, who has become a political pawn for blustery Governor Wilburn (Vincent D’Onofrio) during his re-election campaign that possibly hinges on the death penalty for the killer. Meanwhile, the Governor’s aide Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon) forms a pressing attention to Nurse Ratched. Then there’s Sharon Stone’s eccentric wealthy matron with a visceral hatred of Dr. Hanover, such that she plots against him. Whether the characters are intriguing or not, “Ratched” has plenty of beautiful Art Deco style and gorgeous scenery, which does not alleviate the menace oozing with every torturous therapy of the inmates.
CABLE FALL PREVIEW – PART 3
As far the biannual television press tours were concerned, subscription cable giant HBO always operated independently even though it is part of WarnerMedia Entertainment. The WarnerMedia umbrella includes TNT, TBS, and TruTV, but HBO remains the big elephant under the tent, and so it commands the most attention even though TNT’s “The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” also earned a spot on this summer’s virtual press tour.Paul Rudnick’s comic satire “Coastal Elites” on HBO features Bette Midler, Issa Rae, Sarah Paulson, Kaitlyn Dever and Dan Levy as characters from New York to Los Angeles coping with politics and the pandemic.
“Coastal Elites” is produced entirely under quarantine guidelines, presenting contemporary stories of breaking down and breaking through that are intended to be funny, searing, and poignant, as far as we are told. HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” got an early jump on the fall season when it was released last month. This ten-episode series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he journeys with his childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) across 1950s Jim Crow America. Joining these two is Atticus’ Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on the road trip from Chicago in search of Atticus’ missing father Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams).Their search-and-rescue turns into a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of segregated America and monstrous creatures that could be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback.The six-part limited series “The Undoing” arrives on HBO in late October,
starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as Grace and Jonathan Fraser, who are living the only lives they ever wanted for themselves.Overnight, a chasm opens their lives: a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another. No specific premiere date on HBO Max has been set for the comedic thriller “The Flight Attendant,” but we know that Kelly Cuoco in the starring role finds her entire life can change in one night.
As the titular character, Cuoco wakes up in the wrong hotel hungover from the night before, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened. The miniseries is based on the novel of the same name by best-selling author Chris Bohjalian. Ridley Scott’s “Raised by Wolves” on HBO Max centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. With more humans on the planet, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.