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Netflix’s Ratched is Wretched

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On its face, it’s not a bad idea. Take one of cinema’s greatest villains—Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched, head nurse at an Oregon psychiatric hospital in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—and unpack her backstory. How did this killjoy functionary end up at the facility, with her mild-mannered tones and chilling glares? Why isn’t this conventionally pretty woman in her 1940s hairdo raising kids and tending to a husband in the early years of the ’60s? How is it that maintaining order is all that animates her, when the suffering of her patients is plainly obvious? What might drive such a passive-aggressive, purportedly caring character?

Ratched, from creators Ryan Murphy and Evan Romansky, attempts to answer that question. The reveal, without spoiling too much, involves repressed lesbianism, an abusive upbringing, and a brother with a tendency towards violent revenge. Murphy, who’s Netflix’s marquee showrunner, has combined nostalgic cultural touchstones with exploitative violence and queer horror to great effect in the past. A televisual bludgeoning of taboo tropes is kind of his hallmark.

But what’s striking about Ratched is just how scattershot and incoherent its characterization is, both as a backstory for Nurse Mildred Ratched—played by Murphy’s muse Sarah Paulson—and as a narrative. At the beginning, Paulson’s Ratched has a more murderously cruel streak than we ever saw in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; over time, bizarrely, the series softens her, humanizing the nurse into a character with some dimension. Neither persona seems remotely related to the original Nurse Ratched; Paulson’s various Ratcheds do not even seem related to each other. Ratched turns Ratched into whatever it feels like it wants in that moment: a long-suffering sister, a vengeful caregiver, a repressed lesbian, an enthusiastic lesbian, a master manipulator, and even a caring nurse.

Paulson does her very best to connect the dots, but her Herculean effort to hold the narrative together with her bare hands cannot mask how little the writers seem to have considered Ratched as a character beyond a uniform and a haircut. Paulson makes quite an impression, especially in a scene in which she delivers an ice-pick lobotomy to the camera, and we’re looking up at her uncompromising face before being permanently addled with a metal skewer. But a collection of impressions do not magically turn into a character arc. Over the eight-episode first season, the show flails from set piece to set piece, investing as much as it can into production details to cover just how little inspiration is in the plot. Alarmingly, the show has been greenlit for 10 more episodes, according to Deadline.

Most of the action takes place in a small Northern California town, where Ratched rapidly insinuates herself into the state psychiatric hospital headed by narcissistic fabulist Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones) and head nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis). Ratched has no trouble making herself indispensable, partly because the hospital is under scrutiny by the state’s governor (Vincent D’Onofrio), until he and his assistant Gwendolyn (Cynthia Nixon) realize they can turn the institution into a political asset. Dr. Hanover needs their approval, because he is eager to unleash new and exciting therapies onto his patients: lobotomies, hydrotherapy, LSD dosing, and more.

The abuse of the mentally ill is an awful footnote of human history—one that Ratched mines for multiple gory scenes. (It’s an arena that Murphy’s American Horror Story: Asylum also covered in 2012 and 2013.) One patient diagnosed with “lesbianism” is sentenced to a lobotomy before being shunted off to a terrible hydrotherapy treatment, in which she is submerged in too-hot water for half an hour and then dunked into an ice bath. Ratched is at times put off by these methods, and at times inclined toward their vicious ends. The reason she has come to this small town is to seek out her brother Edmund (Finn Wittrock), a murderer sent to the hospital for evaluation. She won’t allow Edmund to be subjected to the same treatment as other patients—but she will use some of these methods to exact revenge.

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The Haves and Have Nots Recap: Is It Hot in Here… or Is It Just This Episode?

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Warning: The following contains spoilers for Tuesday’s The Haves and the Have Nots. If you’d rather watch first, read later, make like Candace around a good decision and run the other way!

Love, lust and whatever comes in between was in the air in Tuesday’s randypants episode of The Haves and the Have Nots. Not only did Candace cop to her true feelings for Charles, a Machiavellian matchmaker seemed determined to re-set them up. Plus, Jeffrey came thisclose to having company in the shower — and it wasn’t Madison! — a pretty face caught Benny’s eye, and Veronica made her intentions toward Samuel clear. Well, clearer; subtle, she ain’t! Read on, and we’ll go over all the twists of plot in “Counting the Costs.”

‘DO I LOOK LIKE A THERAPIST? DON’T CRY’ | As the hour began, we learned that — dang it! — Vinny hadn’t shot Wyatt. And he was none too pleased with Sandy for being too big a wimp to pull the trigger. “What kinda Malone can’t kill someone?” he asked. Somehow, despite all the talk about rubbing out Wyatt, he lived to irritate us another day, owing to Mama Rose’s desire to charge Katheryn $1M for his return. After sending Sandy upstairs, Vinny, as one will, chitchatted with his hostage and learned that Wyatt — obviously having missed his mother’s wailing over his suicide attempt — didn’t believe the ransom would be paid. Gee, replied Vinny, and “I thought my family was bad.” At the ritzy Chase Regency, Candace begged off going with Benny to meet realtor Rianna, who he thought “sounds so hot,” to have Mitch over for company. “Not like that,” she clarified when he arrived. Turned out, she was still in love with Charles. (Well, duh.) But the president-elect had made his choice, and it hadn’t been her. It would never be her, she assumed. She’d done too many bad things in her life to ever outrun her past. On the plus side, she could now buy millions of dollars’ worth of track shoes.

‘NOBODY IS HAPPY WITH THEIR LIFE’ | Speaking of Charles, when Landon arrived at his place, Conley was there enjoying the free booze. (Senator Westlake, Landon called him, though he’s always “Conley” in the credits. Curious. Is Conley his first name?) Whether because he was already tipsy or just because he has no interest whatsoever in reading any room, he ignored Landon’s discomfort to question him about Candace and repeatedly suggest reaching out to her on Charles’ behalf. Or, ya know, don’t do that, Landon replied. Good meeting! At Veronica’s, the villainess took advantage of Laura’s absence to call Samuel into the house to, ahem, reach a cake plate for her. “Are you happily married?” she asked, then scoffed at his response. “I always laugh when men say [yes] because I know they’re lying.” She also didn’t believe that he’d never cheated. “You are man enough to go around,” she said. When he declined to “take a load off” — her words — she enjoyed the show as he went back to work on the longest pool-cleaning in history. “I will have you drinking, cheating, cussing and in my bed in no time,” she vowed.

‘AM I TURNING YOU ON?’ | At Madison’s a buff fella named Colby let himself in, stripped down and almost joined Jeffrey in the shower before realizing that it wasn’t Madison in there. Turned out, Colby was the nurse’s ex, but they still got together now and then for, um, showers. Once the guys kinda understood where they stood, Colby propositioned Jeffrey. Upon being rejected, Colby settled for the two of them going together to meet Madison for lunch and, you know, surprise him. At the hospital, David gave Jim Hanna’s password — “Thank you, Jesus” — so that he could track Wyatt’s car… which he learned almost immediately was at the Iron Bone. “Wyatt would not be that stupid,” he declared as if he’d never met his son. Since David apparently never has anywhere to be or any hobbies at all, he ran to the bar to look for Wyatt… and was quickly escorted out by Sandy’s henchmen. Maybe that’s Sandy’s calling? Middle management?

‘I DON’T KNOW HOW I GOT LIKE THIS’ | At Justin’s, even though the cop looked like he could tear Tanner in two, he let his brother smack him repeatedly. He also let Tanner make his being gay all about him since, “when Dad died, I was the man of the house.” Tanner thought that he’d “fixed” Justin when he’d had a 15-year-old girl rape him when he was just 6. (OMFG.) But it would be OK, Tanner said. He could think of another way to de-gay him now. Sheesh. Poor Justin (words I never thought I’d type!). At the jailhouse, Kendrick — who you never want to deliver information ever, let me just say! — told Katheryn that Wyatt was fine, he was at the hospital. Except that he’d escaped. Oh, and her house had been robbed. Way to bury the lead, dude! After bribing Kendrick to make a call for her, the rich bitch was visited by Chief Shepherd, who said that sure, he’d look into making her more comfortable behind bars… “as soon as you look into that million dollars” you owe Mama Rose. That’s one check, Katheryn insisted, that wasn’t ever going to clear — information that the corrupt cop immediately passed on to the retired queenpin.

the-haves-and-have-nots-recap-season-7-episode-16-madison-cheating-on-jeffrey‘I’M VERONICA, DARLING; I KNOW THESE THINGS’ | At the Iron Bone, Vinny, apparently having tired of listening to Wyatt’s life story, nagged Sandy about starting a family asap. I’m on it, the junior thug insisted. With whom? Vinny asked — the girl who had an abortion? That’d go well. Off that conversation, restraining order be damned, Sandy phoned Rianna, so she was good and teary-eyed when Benny arrived for their meeting. When she left him to look at pictures of houses, he got a call from Veronica, who told him the exact opposite of what Mitch had — Derrick, she purred, was the man who’d raped Hanna. What’s his address, Benny wanted to know. Click. Oh, Veronica giveth, Veronica taketh away! So, what did you think of “Counting the Costs”? How long until Veronica gets Samuel in bed? Are Charles and Candace endgame… or Mitch and Candace? And are Madison, Jeffrey and Colby headed for a threesome?

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The real reason Supergirl is ending

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Supergirl‘s unexpected cancellation will be a particularly sad occasion for Benoist. The series proved a legitimate breakout for the young star after a few years of playing second fiddle as Marley Rose on Glee.The rising star certainly made the most of her leap into the spotlight, crafting a fully-formed character out of Kara comprised of equal parts tragically flawed humanity and Kryptonian ego. 

Along the way, she’s raised her profile in Hollywood considerably, going on to claim roles in indie gems like Band of Robbers (2016) and blockbusters like Patriot’s Day (2016), while also delivering memorable performances in small-screen ventures like Homeland, and the critically adored mini-series Waco. Benoist has also appeared as Kara Danvers in every single “Arrowverse” series to date. While there’s little question Benoist will continue her ascension to stardom, she’s certainly going to miss portraying the iconic DC hero, admitting as much via a heartfelt Instagram post once the cancellation was made official. 

“To say it has been an honor portraying this iconic character would be a massive understatement. Seeing the incredible impact the show has had on young girls around the world has always left me humbled and speechless. She’s had that impact on me, too. She’s taught me strength I didn’t know I had, to find hope in the darkest of places, and that we are stronger when we’re united. What she stands for pushes all of us to be better. She has changed my life for the better, and I’m forever grateful. I’m so excited that we get to plan our conclusion to this amazing journey, and I cannot wait for you to see what we have in store. I promise we’re going to make it one helluva final season.”

Here’s hoping Supergirl creatives deliver a final season for the ages.

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Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Make a Dynamic Comic Duo

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In her new film “On the Rocks” — premiering at the New York Film Festival on its way to AppleTV+ in October — writer-director Sofia Coppola may well have crafted the quintessential Bill Murray role. But this is a father-daughter story, and the daughter is no less important; it helps, obviously, that both Coppola and Jones know a thing or two about larger-than-life dads, but it also matters that Jones is enough of a skilled actor and comic that she more than holds her own opposite the equally larger-than-life Murray.

Murray’s Felix is an old-school charmer, a deadpan wit, and a bon vivant, but he’s also an adoring father and grandfather, and he’s capable of accessing and acknowledging regret and loss. It would be a banquet for any actor, but the character has been so crafted for this particular performer that one suspects we will think of Murray’s work here alongside the likes of Bette Davis in “All About Eve.” It’s the kind of turn that encapsulates what an actor does best, dovetailed with audiences’ perceptions of what that actor is really like.

But “On the Rocks” is not Felix’s story: It’s about his daughter Laura (Jones), whose once-passionate marriage to Dean (Marlon Wayans) has become a day-to-day grind of raising two young daughters, scheduling vacations and ballet classes, and a walloping case of writer’s block as Laura attempts to start a new book. When Dean starts spending more time at the office and traveling for work, and clues that indicate infidelity start popping up — he’s got a gorgeous assistant named Fiona (Jessica Henwick, “Iron Fist”), whose toiletry case winds up in Dean’s suitcase — Laura grows suspicious.


Watch Video: Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Play Father and Daughter in Sofia Coppola’s ‘On the Rocks’ Trailer


When she airs those suspicions to Felix, of course, he goes into red alert. Having cheated on Laura’s mother (and being the kind of serial flirt who has a charming opening line for seemingly every woman he encounters) Felix immediately assumes the worst. To be fair, Felix’s charm extends to men as well; the way he talks two New York policemen into forgiving him for a moving violation and then giving his car a push is one for the ages.

Felix begins making inquiries about Dean’s comings and goings and even recruits Laura to join him on stakeouts. (He’s the kind of guy who brings caviar as a snack while spying.) But as Laura contemplates whether or not her husband is unfaithful, she also has to examine her own life, her priorities, and her relationship with her father.


Also Read: Sofia Coppola to Adapt Edith Wharton’s ‘Custom of the Country’ for Apple


Laura lives in the upscale Manhattan we know from Woody Allen and Whit Stillman movies; Coppola keeps the literary references to a minimum, but Felix’s career as an art dealer allows for some Cy Twombly and David Hockney name-drops. Even if this is a somewhat familiar brand of lifestyle porn, it’s not one we usually get to see populated by people of color; in the same way that HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” puts Black characters front-and-center in familiar horror and adventure tropes, this is the movie version of New York City (rendered with a glorious sheen by cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd, Coppola’s “The Beguiled”) with a cast of faces that more honestly reflects the real city — with the understanding, of course, that representation is not the same as revolution.

“On the Rocks” displays Coppola’s gift for light comedy, and not just because of Murray; Jones’s sense of timing is precise and often devastating, and Jenny Slate pops in periodically as a fellow school mom in a perpetual monologue about her love life. And it’s a film that finds perfect little moments between the sparkling dialogue, whether it’s Laura obsessively tidying her writing desk as a way to procrastinate or a slo-mo shot of a single tear falling into a martini as Chet Baker laments “I Get Along Without You Very Well.”


Also Read: Anne Hathaway, Bill Murray to Star in Aaron Schneider’s ‘Bum’s Rush’


In the grander scheme of Coppola’s career, this qualifies as another tale of attractive rich people and their problems, but it’s admittedly exciting to see her make a film about a wife and mother who leaves her apartment. After a filmography so frequently focused on the lives of cloistered women — as far back as “Life Without Zoe” and as recently as “The Beguiled” — the auteur having Rashida Jones move freely about the city feels like a paradigm shift.

Jones and Murray (who previously teamed on Coppola’s “A Very Murray Christmas” special) achieve the kind of effortless rapport that spawns “I want them to go solve mysteries” memes, and the key ingredient of that chemistry is that Jones never allows Murray to steal the show.



27 Celebrity Wines Ranked Worst to Best: Drew Barrymore’s Pinot to Fergie’s Syrah (Photos)

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