Wednesday 30 September 2020

Streaming on Netflix- David Hare admires Ryan Murphy's new series RATCHED (USA, 2020)

Sarah Paulson, Ratched

Where Ryan Murphy’s  Hollywood  drove me to despair with what felt like constant misappropriations and sub-standard campery in the way it referenced his “Old Hollywood”, his new series Ratched, co-written with Evan Romansky from Ken Kesey's novel, is an emblem of total fusion of style with content.

Ep 1 sweeps along with a dazzling mise-en-scene and superlative performances from basically everyone with costumes and art direction to die for. Watching this in Dolby Vision 4K with sound to match is almost like Hitchcock in Technicolor resurrected into a world of high end camp- luxe. Although it goes much wider with its meta-cinematic quotes. Just as another Bernard Hermann score grab (from Marnie here) swells up on the soundtrack, Murphy pulls the camera into a steadicam long take down one of the many Kubrickian corridors with a Shining quote that merges into a Vertigo quote as Murphy swings the lighting and color filter from green to yellow to ice cold as Mildred departs the scene of her seduction into suicide of one of the madhouse’s most unhappy clients.
For the first time Murphy’s sense of humor works for me, I suspect because he flawlessly honors and paces his references, while fully evoking the originals by embellishing them with the most glamorous colour and design I think I have seen in a TV series, at least since Todd Haynes’ Mildred Pierce rebirthing. 

I am looking forward to seeing how he manages the lobotomy sequence in tonight’s ep. His opening master sequence of the mass killing of the house full of priests had me laughing aloud, even while I was wondering how far he could go. Then he went there. Every last drop of loathing for a childhood of sufffering at the hands of these wretched, meddling clerics was emptied onto the screen with gallons of stage blood and the first of so many Bernard Hermann quotes, now from Psycho of course.

Editor's Note: The hot link on HOLLYWOOD in the first para takes you to a post by John Baxter about the series.

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