LOS ANGELES OF THE LATE 1930’S IS BRILLIANTLY CHRONICLED IN SHOWTIME’S TEN EPISODE SERIES “PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS”

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LOS ANGELES OF THE LATE 1930’S IS BRILLIANTLY CHRONICLED IN SHOWTIME’S TEN EPISODE SERIES “PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS”

By Jack Lyon's theater and film critic. Member of the American Theater Critics Association

Los Angeles California is now a sprawling, iconic American city that defies categorization because it is constantly reinventing itself. It is better known worldwide for its history in the Hollywood film industry and its "dream factories" that made the stuff that these dreams have been made of for over 100 years. Hollywood films came in celluloid gift boxes to alleviate the pain of the Great Depression with millions of unemployed, and soup kitchens were a common sight.

Broadway may have its Great White Way, a four-block street or so, lined with live theater venues in the middle of New York City, but Hollywood has the magic of the camera with the intimacy of close-up and its freedom to move around and its ability to Reach out to a global audience and capture their thoughts and ideas, if not forever, then at least for a few hours. And all for the price of around 10 cents per ticket when I was growing up. This combination turned out to be too seductive and too profitable to be missed in the film's salad days for the early Hollywood pioneer moguls and their studio managers.

However, this newly discovered power and sophistication that was “film” was associated with great responsibility. Yes, we already informed, influenced and advertised the product in the late 1920s and early 30s without any legal intervention. Eventually, however, films began to press the envelope too hard and too quickly to make films more relevant to what was going on in society.

He was told to clean up his portrayals of life, language, and sex in his films or face government supervision – which the studios were doing – until the 1960s sexual revolution occurred. Both Hollywood and world cinema producers quickly returned to the social customs and acceptance of the "swinging" 1960s and beyond. When the 21st century arrived, the Hollywood producers took off their family-oriented film gloves and opted for high-octane action films and adult-themed films to push the envelope again. As new emerging streaming platforms became popular over the Internet, the producers quickly adapted the slang to the street language, which is now used in many films as a dialogue between the characters. However, the global Coronavirus-19 pandemic in 2020 may have changed everything related to the entertainment industry forever.

This brings us to the Showtime presentation that is currently being shown across different streaming platforms across the country. "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels" is a tight, well-made television series with ten episodes, each containing a gripping and fascinating storyline and loaded with excellent performances by a talented cast that fester a long forgotten story about racial relationships in LA in the “LaLa-Land” for decades.

Tensions between the Chicano community in LA and the corrupt white power structure within the city government 80 years ago focus on the more militant factions of young Mexican Americans known as “pachucos”. They sought to confront the white power structures through provocation, intimidation and confrontation. Simply put, the Spanish-speaking population has become a citizen / victim in their own city by those tasked with governing and protecting them. The white privilege had effectively controlled and put them under pressure for years in ghetto-like neighborhoods in eastern LA. Corrupt and greedy politicians were cleverly supported by a brutal and bigoted LA Police Department. The elements of fear of other cultures, as well as the loss of power and governance through the privilege of whites, made Los Angeles a white-hot melting pot of racial relations in the late 1930s, just waiting to boil over.

"City of Angels", the Showtime TV film series, is an extremely relevant TV series and a vivid reminder not only of why the painful American Civil War of 1861 was fought, but of the new Jim Crow laws that followed later Introduce south. These laws were the forerunners of the 2019/2020 social movements such as “Black Lives Matter”, along with the changing attitudes of many southern states when it comes to the problematic legacy of the four-year confederation (1861-1865) and its implications for today's modern America after the conflict ended 155 years ago. Time is now on the side to clean up the injustice of the past, not only for African Americans, but also for Mexicans, Asian Americans and Indians.

"City of Angels" as a whole is a dark, gritty, raw, fantasy TV drama series created by the writer / director John Logan and set in Los Angeles in 1938. It is a time of racial tensions between the Mexicans. American Community and LA City Government and Police.

The characters are due to the conflict between the Mexican folklore deities of Santa Muerta (Lorenza Izzo), the administrator of the dead and leader of the great afterlife, and of Magda, her malicious provocative sister of chaos, who believes humanity is inherently evil and strive for it, connected prove their point of view.

Magda is sensationally portrayed by Natalie Dormer in a Tour de Force performance with four different characters: Magda / Rio / Elsa / Alex in all ten episodes. "City of Angels" is a classic story between good and evil, told in the midst of a passionate love story between Detective Vega (Daniel Zavatto) and sister Molly Finnister (Kerry Bische), a presenter of a mega radio church in downtown Los Angeles . Her chemistry on the screen is palpable and her performances at the moment are convincing and moving. Ms. Bishe is also an actor who loves the camera. Young, beautiful and talented, she delivers a series of haunting moments in all her scenes; especially the one with Mr. Zavatto.

Detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) LA's handsome and dedicated first Mexican-American policeman and his partner veteran Lewis Michner (a great Emmy-worthy accomplishment by Nathan Lane) are charged with a gruesome murder case and soon involved in Los Angeles. The history and current local white verses of Mexican-American racial tensions and the looming threat of World War II, including the Nazi conspiracies that threaten to derail the investigation at every turn. are present. There are a lot of severe meat and potato problems on the plates of all characters that everyone can enjoy, which everyone does with enthusiasm in all ten episodes.

First-class nuanced appearances also come from Adriana Barraza as Maria Vega, as a widowed matriarch of the Vega family, played by Ms. Barraza (who is also a worthy candidate for an Emmy nomination), Josefina Vega, the young vulnerable daughter of Maria, is going to be beautiful played by Jessica Garza; The LA City Council, Charlton Townsend (Michael Gladis), chews the backdrop as a bullying, locked-up, gay man, whose goal is to become the Mayor of Los Angeles and take revenge on all who have humiliated him in the past.

Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear) is a successful German-American pediatrician and head of the German-American Confederation, who is in the Elst of Elsa (Natalie Dormer), a German refugee who poops Peter from his wife (Piper Perabo). And a strong accomplishment comes from Johnathan Nieves as the conflict-ridden young Mateo Vega, who connects with the "Pachuco" community to rebel against the establishment and his mother's wishes, both of which pay a high price for their decisions.

Young people are passionate and need to have a say in the changing world they live in. However, your passion can sometimes get out of control, leading to violence, murder and chaos for both sides. But in “City of Angels” the beat continues with many echoes of well-known films and sights such as “West Side Story” and the unrest between the Jets and Sharks gangs that keep the NYPD busy. The famous Four Square Pentecostal Mega Church in LA, founded in 1927 by Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, plays an important role, as do other locations and events in this quasi-historical / fictional TV drama series.

The Lincoln Center Theater in New York City and the Metropolitan Opera House complex are the result of a Fiat by the New York City government that has replaced the Puerto Rican population in this area by a significant domain. The Mexican-American population suffered a similar fate in Los Angeles when the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team at that time moved to Chavez Ravine in LA in 1956 to wait for the completion of their new home stadium, the Dodger Stadium. Deal from the Walter O & # 39; Malley family and the City Fathers of Los Angeles. Progress always produces winners and losers. And not everyone is happy with the results.

If all of this intricate Byzantine plot that cuts back and forth sounds more like a soap opera about steroids, it's because it is, but with one difference. It's a quality production written by John Logan, his team of writers and directors, and top-class creative technical artists who devote the smallest details to creating this nifty TV series. With the Coronavirus 19 pandemic still in charge and people staying at home for the summer, chances are very good to watch episodes of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. Make sure you see it.

Another reason to watch this $ 99 million TV series production is because 80 percent of the cast and crew are Spanish. It seems that true and refreshing stories about diversity for people who look like themselves have finally arrived in Southern California. Thank you so much!

After all, however, I am a little disappointed with the final, which, for obvious reasons, cannot be discussed so as not to spoil the series for those who will hopefully tune in later. The last episode felt that the creators said it was time to end the show. I can only say more than that, it is a series that you should definitely watch. Check your local TV listings for date, time and channel.

Remember that a great nation deserves great art. Support all the arts.

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