Saturday, October 24, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 34
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
13TH (2020)
AVA
BINGABLE: ABANDONED (2016)
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: CASA DE LAS FLORES
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTARIES
BINGEABLE: OUTLANDER (2014-present)
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FISH TANK (2009)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOUSE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: OLDBOY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BLOW THE MAN DOWN
CLASS ACTION PARK
COASTAL ELITES
DA 5 BLOODS
FIRST COW
GREYHOUND
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
JUST MERCY
LYING AND STEALING
MESSAGE FROM THE KING
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
NATURETRACK FILM FESTIVAL
ONLY
PALM SPRINGS
PROJECT POWER
PURPLE MOUNTAINS
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (2011)
TENET
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND
THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD
THE OLD GUARD
THE VAST OF NIGHT
TREAD
TV REVIEW: BOSCH
TV REVIEW: CATCH-22
TV REVIEW: COBRA KAI
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: FEAR CITY
TV REVIEW: GENERATION KILL (2008)
TV REVIEW: HANNIBAL (2013-2015)
TV REVIEW: HELL ON WHEELS (2011-2016)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
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: LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM
TV REVIEW: LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: NORMAL PEOPLE
TV REVIEW: PANDEMIC: HOW TO PREVENT AN OUTBREAK (2020)
TV REVIEW: PERRY MASON
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SOCIAL DISTANCE
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MORNING SHOW
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE THIRD DAY
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
[UN]WELL

Perry Mason is a stylish origin story for the famed criminal defense attorney

TV REVIEW: PERRY MASON

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF HBO

TV REVIEW: PERRY MASON


Where is it playing?: HBO

What's it rated?: TV-MA

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

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

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald created this origin story about gritty LA private detective Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys). Set in late 1931 and ’32 during the Great Depression, the story takes place long before Mason becomes the defense attorney you know from the many novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, the popular TV series with Raymond Burr, and the made-for-TV movies. Mason’s struggling to keep afloat when he’s hired by attorney E.B. Jonathan (John Lithgow) to look into the kidnapping of a child, whose parents—Matthew (Nate Corddry) and Emily Dodson (Gayle Rankin)—have become the center of LAPD Detectives Holcomb (Eric Lange) and Ennis’ (Andrew Howard) investigation. (eight 60-min. episodes)

Glen: By the time you read this, a third episode of HBO’s eight-part miniseries will have been released, but so far we’ve only seen the first two, and they’re thoroughly engaging. This is a much more intimate look at Mason with a lot more backstory than even the novels provide. We discover Mason fought in The Great War but left the service with a dishonorable “blue ticket,” he struggles with his drinking, he’s estranged from his wife and 9-year-old boy, and it’s all he can do to hang on to his deceased parents’ ramshackle two-cow dairy farm. He is, however, an insightful and tenacious detective working in a corrupt city filled with unsavory Hollywood players, tycoons rich from an oil boom, a shady LAPD, and the impending 1932 summer Olympic Games on the horizon. The series’ whole vibe is reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir Chinatown, with Mason a stand-in for Jack Nicholson’s character Jake Gittes. As in Chinatown, big changes are afoot in LA, with money to be made. Part of the story also involves radio evangelist Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany), whose Radiant Assembly of God is capitalizing on Prohibition and the Women’s Suffrage movements. There are a lot of complicated machinations at work in the city, and maybe, just maybe, this child kidnapping is about more than a ransom payout. 

Anna: Mason is a tough nut to crack, and he also isn’t interested in leaving something be just because someone—or everyone—is telling him to. I will say that HBO should throw a content warning up before episode one: There’s a pretty gruesome depiction of a deceased child that’s rough to see. However, that kidnapping and murder setup is Mason’s next obsession. He knows better than to trust anyone or hold anyone beyond the veil of suspicion and because of that, he finds the lives surrounding this little lost child are not as innocent as they may first seem. Rhys is a great choice for the brooding detective, somewhat mysterious but really just tragically flawed, a man who can’t conquer the inner demons that haunt him. The noir nature of the series is moody and bleak, the glitz and glam have been rubbed off of Los Angeles, and the war and depression have taken their toll. The showmanship and glitter of Sister Alice’s performances hide the real inner workings of the church, and I can’t wait to see where the series takes that storyline. I’m hooked.

Glen: Rhys is perfect for the role. He’s got a hangdog everyman quality. His Mason is jaded, cynical, and world weary. He’s seen things he can’t un-see. It will also be interesting to learn more about his service. In the second episode—also gory, by the way, with lots of war injuries—we learn more about his “blue ticket” discharge, and it should be another interesting storyline to see play out. As this series was first being developed a few years ago, Robert Downey Jr. was slated to play Mason. That might have been interesting, but Rhys seems to own the role. The acting’s definitely solid throughout. In the novels, Mason’s love interest is Della Street (Juliet Rylance), and as of the second episode, no romance has developed. Another character is Mason’s righthand man, Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham), who in this series has a more cantankerous relationship with his sometimes boss. Something stinks in the City of Angels, and watching Mason ferret it out makes for a gripping series. Watch it!

Anna: I can’t say I’m too familiar with the novels or the 1957 series, just the general idea behind the character, and this rendition has me all in. I love a flawed character with some grit, and Perry Mason certainly fits that bill. The host of characters around him also have some deep flaws, or at the very least some shady business going on. There’s definitely something up with Sister Alice and her church, the murdered kid’s parents aren’t looking great either, and everyone seems to have secrets to hide. The introspection and Mason himself and the greater story of the case he’s trying to crack are all effective devices to keep the story rolling. After watching what he went through in the war, it’s no wonder Mason hides behind a tough exterior and a bottle of booze. I can’t wait for more episodes of this series! 

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









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