Ryan Murphy has another new ‘product’ on Netflix, in a year when he’s already given us “The Politician” Season 2 & “Hollywood.” It’s the much-anticipated “Ratched,” and there are also two ‘little’ films worth talking about.
“Ratched” : Coming from the producer who gave us “American Horror Story” and “Nip/Tuck,” there was a lot of excitement when this origin story of Nurse Ratched of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was announced.
The trailer, featuring Ryan Murphy‘s muse, Sarah Paulson, also held much promise, with lurid, stylized 1950’s cinematography, and guest turns from the likes of Sharon Stone, Aussie veteran actress Judy Davis, and Filipino stage actor Jon Jon Briones.
Plus we’re talking about the iconic Nurse Ratched, a role that earned Louise Fletcher a triple home run with the Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe Best Actress in 1975.
But I will say here that this is the Ryan Murphy who has often relied on stylized split screens, rambling multi-strand narratives, and is known for his impressionable “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
In the final analysis, I’d call “Ratched” eminently watchable, but also a watchable mess.
For a psychological drama, it doesn’t provide much psychological insight into the Ratched character.
Sarah Paulson rises above the material, and there are enjoyable turns by Sharon Stone with pet monkey, and there’s Jon Jon Briones hamming it up as Dr. Hanover. But there doesn’t seem to be much thought put into the storyline, with repetition of themes and motives happening much too often – it feels often like they’re stretching or padding the narrative.
And when what should be the central plot of “Ratched’s” personality development has run out of steam, we’re thrust into side bars that goes for far too long a time. It’s entertaining enough, but doesn’t quite match up to the expectations we’ve harvested.
“21 Bridges” : When this film was released in cinemas in 2019; the best thing it had going for it was that it was produced by the Russo Brothers who were behind “Avengers: Endgame,” and it had them reuniting with Chadwick Boseman, who was then riding on the fame of his Black Panther portrayal. With the untimely recent demise of Boseman, there’s an interest in this film that far supersedes the reception it failed to enjoy as a theatrical release. Set in Manhattan over the hours from midnight to dawn, it’s a police procedural that mixes in a ‘good cop vs bad cops‘ scenario.
To his credit, Boseman plays the role straight up, as a second generation New York cop, who’s big on principles, duty, and honor.
Sienna Miller and JK Simmons provide able support, although Simmons is reprising a role he’s played in too many film outings.
The plot has enough twists and turns, and while a tad predictable; you have to give credit where it’s due, and allow that the fast pacing and gritty night-time shooting does deliver the goods.
You just wish that if this is one of Boseman’s last film outings, he was asked to do more than look intense and thoughtful. His is a sorry loss, so watching this is still a salute to an actor we’ll certainly miss.
“Budapest”: Here’s a French production that comes into play in the Netflix rotation, because there’s always room for crazy true-to-life misadventures, and depicting business start-up’s that have no reason for surviving, and yet do. It’s all about an events company borne out of the frustration two middle-level French white-collar workers experienced when the bachelor’s party they planned for a friend at a hip Paris club saw them being refused entry at the door. They end up in a seedy strip club where one of the East European hires shows the group photos of the wild night life in Budapest, where the women outnumber the men.
The Eureka moment has one thinking of scouting Budapest, and setting up a business where the ones participating in a bachelor party are flown to this city, and a truly debauched weekend is all planned out. Biting off more than they can chew, the expedition is an outright disaster – but the kind of fun disaster that will make your Buda party one of a kind. Think of “Bachelor Party” mixed with “The Hangover,” and throw in even stupider scenarios then one could imagine in their wildest dreams – and you’ll have an idea of what this Big-Boys-Up-To-No-Good film provides.