Tuesday, April 20, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 7
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
BINGEABLE: BARRY
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
BOSS LEVEL
GODZILLA VS. KONG
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I CARE A LOT
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
IRRESISTIBLE
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
LYING AND STEALING
NOBODY
NOMADLAND
PALMER
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
SOUL
SUPERINTELLIGENCE
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE SUNLIT NIGHT
THE WHITE TIGER
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EVIL
TV REVIEW: FIREFLY LANE
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: ONE MISSISSIPPI
TV REVIEW: PAINTING WITH JOHN (2021)
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SERVANT
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE LADY AND THE DALE (2021)
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL
TV REVIEW: THE NEW YORK TIMES PRESENTS FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS (EPISODE 6) (2021)
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: THE THIRD DAY
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: TREADSTONE (2019)
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WANDAVISION
TV REVIEW: WARRIOR
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014)
WEWORK: OR THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF A $47 BILLION UNICORN (2021)

'Bates Motel' offers a compelling origin story for 'Psycho'

TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL TELEVISION

TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL


Where is it playing?: Netflix

What's it rated?: TV-MA

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

This contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror classic, Psycho—which was based on Robert Bloch’s 1959 horror novel about isolated motel caretaker Norman Bates and his domineering mother—is set in modern day Oregon and stars Freddie Highmore as Norman; Vera Farmiga as Norman’s mother, Norma Louise Bates; Max Thieriot as Norman’s older brother, Dylan; and Kenny Johnson as Norma’s estranged brother, Caleb. The origin story sets up Norman’s growing psychopathy as well as Norma’s overprotectiveness and her own twisted, dysfunctional upbringing. It’s set amid the backdrop of White Pine Bay, a town with secrets and a history of violence connected to the cannabis trade, centering on Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and “legal” drug kingpin Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm), as well as a host of other quirky characters. (50 45-min. episodes)

Glen: Prior to the pandemic, I probably wouldn’t have gotten sucked into this long-running A&E series, which ended in 2017 but is now available in its entirety on Netflix. Discovering it is a silver lining to the lockdown. I really became engrossed in the story and the acting challenges for Farmiga and Highmore, who both have to play two characters. Highmore plays Norman, but he also plays Norman taken over by his Norma personality; Farmiga plays Norma, but also Norman’s version of her. His mother’s alter ego was created to protect him—she’s the strong one who can come out and kill as needed. The series is juiced up by a lot of interesting subplots, such as Norman’s first sexual encounter with Bradley (Nicola Peltz, a beautiful classmate with a problematic home life), and Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke), who is first attracted to Norman and later, after she comes to work at the motel, Norman’s brother, Dylan. The best part of the series is the sharp character work. The acting is terrific! If you’re a fan of Hitchcock’s film, you’ll find plenty of familiar elements to enjoy as Norman drifts into madness.

Anna: This wasn’t on my radar while it was airing new episodes on A&E, but I’m glad I watched it in a binge because boy-oh-boy did I stay engrossed! With 45-minute run times and five seasons’ worth of episodes, this series kept us entertained for a nice long stretch. Norma and Norman move to White Pine Bay six months after Norman’s father suffers a terrible accident at home and dies, leaving behind an insurance policy that allows Norma to purchase the defunct motel. It doesn’t take long to realize that Norman’s quiet nature actually covers up a monster, and that his puppy love for his mother is creepy at best, sinister at worst. No one, especially another man, will ever be good enough for the woman who raised him, a woman whom he still shares a bed with at 16 and obsesses over constantly. Soon the distraction of Bradley takes over, but in the end nothing can come between the two Bateses—even when wild child Dylan shows up and throws a wrench into their party of two. Of course the story has to take some big turns; how else do you stay on TV for five years? But as out there as it gets, the characters keep it all too real. We feel like a fly on the wall watching the craziest family drama unfold.

Glen: What’s amazing is the series gets better as it goes along, but it has the good sense to end at the right time. All too often, if a series is holding its audience, they’ll keep it going, milking the story like a tired cow, but here we see the end coming, and though I’d watch more episodes if there were any, the conclusion is truly satisfying. It’s also worth noting that instead of filming on the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood, where the original set of the 1960 film Psycho still exists, this series was filmed in British Columbia, where a replica of the creepy Queen Anne-style home and 1960s-era motel were painstakingly built. The house, perched on a hill looming over the motel, is a character unto itself. There are a lot of characters, subplots, twists, and turns, but at its heart, Bates Motel is the story of a mind unraveling, and it’s impossible to turn away.

Anna: It’s interesting coming into this series knowing the characters from the film and letting this unfold in its own right. Norman is increasingly unpredictable, and especially in the later seasons he’s straight-up unhinged. Dylan’s character is also really interesting. Abandoned and unliked by Norma, we soon learn that while Dylan has done nothing wrong, his origin story is deeply painful for Norma. He cares enough about his estranged younger brother to stick around though, and when he starts to realize that there’s something wrong with Norman, he doesn’t run for the hills—even when he is being shunned and pushed away in every way possible. Emma is another key character who evolves from Norman’s classmate into practically a member of the Bates family, left by her own mother at a young age, she looks to Norma as her confidante and caretaker. I’m glad they ended it when they did—though, like you, I totally would have kept watching. This series is worth watching again, even if you caught it on TV when it aired.

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










Weekly Poll
Do you agree with the Santa Maria City Council's decision to regulate mobile car wash operations?

Yes. There's a reason the city receives lots of complaints about them.
No. These are people's livelihoods on the line, during a pandemic no less.
I understand the need to regulate, but I still want access to quick and easy car washing!
Car washes are a waste of money; just do it yourself.

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