Here’s what I’m digging this month.

Ratched

In 1947, Mildred Ratched begins working as a nurse at a leading psychiatric hospital. But beneath her stylish exterior lurks a growing darkness.

I’ve been looking forward to Ryan Murphy‘s latest series ever since I heard about it, even though honestly, the idea of it is quite odd to me, I don’t know why. I mean, Ratched is a brilliant character from a classic movie, and building a whole world around her is genius, but I’d love to know the story behind how it came to fruition.

It could open up a world of potential for lesser known characters though. Wouldn’t it be interesting for instance, to get one about Psycho‘s Marion Crane? An iconic character with a hazy background. Anyway, I’ve read great reviews and one even suggested it’s going to be Sarah Paulson‘s career defining role. I’m not sure about that but at the time of typing this we’re three episodes in and I’m enjoying the ride.

It’s a sumptuous costume piece with a cracking cast which includes Cynthia Nixon and Sharon Stone – and, although it’s not an American Horror Story series, it does have some sublime body horror elements which aren’t for the faint-hearted. I’m really trying to savour each episode rather than devouring it in one go but that’s easier said than done. I’m a binger, baby.

Also, this is a good pre-Halloween amuse bouche and perfect for the nights as they draw in around us. I don’t want a second national lock-down but if I must, I’m doing it with great (but pulpy) TV.

Tenet

Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

I’d say *no spoilers* here but honestly, I couldn’t if I tried. Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet is the most convoluted film I’ve seen in years and I can’t even be sure I like it that much. I know I liked elements of it but a lot of it is lost in the complexity of the narrative and I don’t know if the payoff is worth the work put in.

However, the cast are fantastic, particularly Kenneth Branagh and John David Washington. Personally, I live for all of Himesh Patel‘s scenes and I thought Robert Pattinson‘s unfortunately named Neil was wonderful, reminiscent of Tom Hardy‘s Eames in Inception. Perhaps it’s just the English thing.

Anyway, I almost certainly need a second viewing but I wanted to include this as it’s the first film I saw in the cinema since lock-down was eased (and the only one, though there are two coming up in October that I will definitely be seeing).

Most of the people I know who’ve seen this have loved it and paid to see it more than once and I think if you’re a Nolan-purist, you’ll be very happy.

60 Days In, Season 2

“60 Days In” offers an unprecedented look at life behind bars at Indiana’s Clark County Jail as seven ordinary people volunteer for to live among its general population for 60 days without fellow inmates or staff knowing their secret.

I love this show and admittedly, probably for the wrong reasons. I tell myself I love it for the social experiment and the fact that the participants are affecting real change within the prison system but it’s all the drama, Mick. I just love it.

Although, the grassing up on inmates seems problematic to me from some angles. I mean, yes if it’s for the safety of the inmates but otherwise, I’m not sure. Obviously there are bigger fish to fry than a little bit of contraband coming in but you know what I’m saying.

Anyway, we’re only on Season 2 over here on UK Netflix – but I believe there have been six to date in the US. Maybe it will lose its novelty shortly but I thought the first one was brilliant and I loved seeing the arrogant quickly crumble under the scrutiny of real inmates. In this one there’s a little shit called Ryan who’s so far doing okay but thinks he’s better that everybody and I’m waiting for him slip up so I can cheer. Horrible, aren’t I?

One of the plants is a criminal justice student and it’s really interesting to hear him talk about the experience vs. everything he’s learnt in school, and just how different they are. There’s a lot of violence and drug use going on and inmates live in truly heinous conditions, which is so inhumane.

It does make you ponder what you might bring to the table if you were to participate in the program. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t last the night.

I recommend it if you have any interest in crime documentaries or anything to do with prison.

Psychoanalysis: A Horror Therapy Podcast

A synopsis, via Consequence of Sound:

Ever wonder why anxious people love horror movies? Curious about how having the daylights scared out of you can help you feel better? Hosts Jenn Adams, Lara Unnerstall, and therapist Mike Snoonian break it down (and back it up with academic research) on Psychoanalysis: A Horror Therapy Podcast.

Each month, we’ll take an in-depth look at a topic in the mental health field like anxiety, PTSD, and toxic relationships. For our bi-weekly episodes, we’ll pair topics with a horror film and analyze its plot and characters through the lens of mental health. We’ll also discuss our own mental health experiences and why we love horror.

There are many things that are important to me in this life but two of the most prolific are mental health and horror movies. In my mind they’ve always been intrinsically connected and as an anxious person – and an anxious teenager growing up not understanding that was what was going on – I’ve always leaned on the darkness for comfort. Now I understand myself and anxiety a whole lot better and it makes perfect sense that horror would be my jam.

When Matt recommended this, there was no doubt it would be right up my street – and one of the episodes closes in on toxic relationships and Midsommar, which is just perfect. Honestly, I’ve just started the Midsommar episode but I feel I need to gear myself up properly before I really dig in.

The intro episode was absolutely spot on though and hit my right in the feels. The hosts, Jenn, Mike and Lara are actually likeable (!) and keep the unnecessary preamble to a minimum. I can’t tell you how many podcasts I’ve started and then dropped because I can’t stand the unrelated chatter at the beginning of every episode. When James and I were doing All Out of Bubblegum we were 100% guilty of this so it’s not really a criticism, I get it – it’s just so off-putting.

Anyway, the introductory episode touches upon the concept of comfort food horror films and why those particular movies, and the horror genre in general helps some of us with our anxieties. I love it and I can’t wait to commit more time to the episodes.


So these are September picks.

What are you loving?