Black Mirror

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thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

Re: Black Mirror

#26 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:29 pm

I thought White Christmas was really good as well. I think I agree with colin that the first episode was the comparatively weaker episode and I did have an inkling of sorts of the direction the seduction would go in. What I liked most was how it tied in with the very final scene where
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John Hamm is still punished for the crime of presumably not reporting a murder/destroying evidence by not being blocked by society like Rafe Spall was, but earmarked as someone on the sex offender's register to everyone, basically making him an easy target. I'm glad you don't see what's coming next but as the bloke picks up the snow globe, it's easy to imagine


Jonathan S
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Re: Black Mirror

#28 Post by Jonathan S » Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:22 pm

In view of a recent news story, I wouldn't be surprised if the first episode is soon repeated!


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domino harvey
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Re: Black Mirror

#30 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:15 am

One of the new episodes of the series has an amazing creative team: Written by Rashida Jones and Mike Schur, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, and directed by Joe Wright

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colinr0380
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Re: Black Mirror

#31 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:14 am

That episode (at least according to imdb) is also going to co-star Alice Eve, who I remember making quite an impression in the Neil LaBute film Some Velvet Morning.

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The Narrator Returns
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Re: Black Mirror

#32 Post by The Narrator Returns » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:49 pm

I've only watched "San Junipero" from the new season, but I thought it was absolutely terrific and moving, plus a great showcase for Mackenzie Davis and especially Gugu Mbatha-Raw. And the music is great too, including a score by Clint Mansell (whose involvement I only learned about from the end credits) and
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not one, but two 80s songs which completely spell out the ending twists while the episode is still playing things cryptic.

ianungstad
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Re: Black Mirror

#33 Post by ianungstad » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:54 pm

domino harvey wrote:One of the new episodes of the series has an amazing creative team: Written by Rashida Jones and Mike Schur, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, and directed by Joe Wright
The Joe Wright episode is just ok. Community did a very similar episode a few years ago that was better executed and had half the running time. (MeowMeowBeenz)

All the new episodes are above average to great with the exception of Men Against Fire which was a letdown.

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barryconvex
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Re: Black Mirror

#34 Post by barryconvex » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:04 pm

ianungstad wrote:
domino harvey wrote:One of the new episodes of the series has an amazing creative team: Written by Rashida Jones and Mike Schur, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, and directed by Joe Wright
The Joe Wright episode is just ok. Community did a very similar episode a few years ago that was better executed and had half the running time. (MeowMeowBeenz)

All the new episodes are above average to great with the exception of Men Against Fire which was a letdown.
I actually really liked the Nosedive episode mostly because Howard carried it on her back and willed it into being better than it probably should've been. It has some predictable moments but the ending more than made up for it. I'm unfamiliar with the Community episode in question but i can see how this could be played as comedy as some of these characters could've been inspired by the Loony Tunes short From Hare to Heir. That's the one when Yosemite Sam as an Arthurian prince inherits a fortune and then loses a chunk of it every time he loses his temper.

The other episodes are all mostly positive with the season finale Hated In The Nation (you've come a long way GG!!) being the best and Shut Up and Dance with it's unearned pessimism and cheap moral superiority easily the worst of the six.

phantomforce
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Re: Black Mirror

#35 Post by phantomforce » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:12 pm

Ive always thought of Bryce Howard as a second rate Jessica Chastain, but Nosedive was one of the strongest performances i've seen on netflix and I think might have even topped anything Chastain has done. She really went all out and I'm sure Rashida Jones (as the writer) coordinated with her to dial in on the character.

San Junipero though was unreal, and I think will be an eventual Emmy winning episode. There were some rough patches in showing the time jumps but I think given the budget (and Charlie Booker has been interviewed as saying that the music licensing on that episode alone was almost half the budget of the entire series) it is one of the most memorable and game changing moments in tv history. A beautiful episode and a bookmark for a new genre I believe - (The Discovery 2017 will be similarly based on the concept of love and romance knowing that an after life exists, Directed by Malcolm McDowell's son).

I blasted through the series yesterday and am eager to give it another run through.

ianungstad
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Re: Black Mirror

#36 Post by ianungstad » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:58 pm

re: Nosedive. I thought it was good. It just reminded me that I've already seen a lot of these ideas explored in other satirical sendups of the rise of social media. Given the talent involved, I was expecting something a little more bold. It was certainly above average but it just didn't have the resonance of San Junipero and some of the others. I'm not really a fan of Bryce Dallas Howard but I agree that this is probably her best performance to date.

I feel quite conflicted about Shut Up and Dance. I don't think it's the worst episode...in fact much of it was pretty good. Your spot on about the "cheap moral superiority" but the revelations about the porn video and the troll emoji "twist" come at the very end. It's an ending that almost ruins the episode. I think if you cut out that last bit; you have a decent blackmail storyline. What I did like is that this could happen today, no dystopian scifi tech needed. (and probably has) I would only rank it slightly ahead of Men Against Fire, which is my personal choice for the worst of the season.

Speaking of which. The plot twist is so obvious that the episode loses any real suspense. Augmented realtiy has already been overdone in Black Mirror and there's not even that many episodes out there! Augmented reality and it's military applications has been a plot point in tons of low rent scifi films in recent years and this just felt like the tv version of a B movie. I also hate all these first-person shooter video games and most of the episode was filmed in that style which just annoyed me.

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Sloper
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Re: Black Mirror

#37 Post by Sloper » Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:29 am

Agreed on San Junipero – easily the best episode of this season, and it ranks alongside the best of Black Mirror (for me, that’s Be Right Back, White Bear and 15 Million Merits). Like other episodes, it leaves you with such a complex mess of thoughts and emotions. Is it uplifting or horrifying, or a bit of both? It had the same director as Be Right Back, and the same level of emotional and psychological maturity.

I liked most of the other episodes too, although they all had their problems – often, as many reviewers have pointed out, when it comes to the endings. Men Against Fire would have been about twice as good if they had just cut out all that clunky exposition in the last few minutes.
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For instance, Catarina could have been unable to speak a word of English, then the other soldier just comes in and shoots her and the kid; and then in the cell, Arquette could have just walked in and played the video, then offered Stripe the ultimatum. It’s a shame that Brooker forgot the ‘show don’t tell’ principle here, and didn’t just let the audience figure out the backstory for themselves.
Nosedive, despite some good moments, really didn’t work for me at all. I agree that the MeowMeowBeenz episode of Community did this exact idea with far more wit and bite, and, strange to say, more convincingly as well.

Interesting comments on Shut Up and Dance. It left me feeling quite sick and depressed for a while after I finished it, which I've come to expect from this series. I think I know what people mean by ‘unearned moral superiority’, but correct me if what I’m about to say gets the wrong end of stick. Have you seen the earlier episodes? I’m talking specifically about (even naming them in this context constitutes a major spoiler):
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White Bear and White Christmas. I'm venturing nervously into controversial territory now, but here goes...

One of Charlie Brooker’s major interests is how we as a culture treat people who have done something wrong, and especially how quick we are to write people off as undeserving of empathy – as Colin put it on the previous page, how we pigeon-hole someone into a single category, and fix them in that state forever. In the UK, the prime objects of such demonisation are of course paedophiles.

Brooker was one of the writers on the ‘Paedogeddon’ episode of Brass Eye, which targeted the media’s confused and conflicted attitude to these issues. Its most insightful point was that the tabloids’ campaign of fury against paedophiles is not motivated by genuine moral indignation, or by a genuine concern to see that justice is done, or by a real understanding of the damaging impact sexual abuse has on children, but by its own and its readers’ un-addressed sexual hang-ups.

This was hilariously reinforced by the tabloids themselves during the inevitable furore after the episode was broadcast: the Sun ran a piece condemning the show, while just a few inches to the left, on the facing page, you could see a delightful article about how Charlotte Church had just turned 15 (they even had some sort of creepy ‘countdown’ going, I think) and was starting to develop breasts. Elsewhere in the same issue they had photos of ‘bikini princesses’ Eugenie and Beatrice, who were about 11 and 13 at the time.

The media is quite happy to sexualise and exploit underage girls, and to invade their privacy, in order to sate their audience’s presumed (and actual) desire to see such things. Not to mention all the ways in which they exploit women ‘of age’, perpetuating misogynist stereotypes, rape culture, blaming and victimising the victims they are allegedly standing up for when they go on the offensive; not to mention their vilification of the poor, support of homophobia, racism, war, etc., etc.... When they vilify ‘vile, monstrous’ paedophiles, that’s part of the same thing, and it caters to similar tendencies in the audience: our presumed desire to fuck and/or kill our fellow human beings, and to be told that we don’t have to feel guilty for doing so (because the rest of the mob is doing it too).

A few years ago, a columnist called Jan Moir wrote a hateful, homophobic article, and Brooker himself joined in the backlash against it. He said that afterwards he felt as though he had joined a lynch mob. (Obviously, this is a central issue in Hated in the Nation as well.) I think it’s one of the most important issues he deals with: the way we treat ‘the worst’ amongst us, and what that says about who we are, collectively and individually.

What these Black Mirror episodes do so brilliantly is to give us sympathetic characters, and then slot them into those widely vilified roles, confronting us with the really difficult question, how do we feel about these people now? I know someone – not a bad person at all, but he does read and largely agree with the Daily Mail – who cheered at the end of White Bear, and thought it was ‘a great idea’. He might feel the same way about the punishments meted out at the end of White Christmas as well. I’ve seen online reviews of Shut Up and Dance which say that we’re supposed to abandon any sympathy for Kenny at the end. I read one comment saying something like ‘When I found out what he’d done, I was screaming at the TV hoping he would get what he deserved’. Like the earlier episodes, it’s designed so that you can react to it like that if you want to, which for me is what makes it so disturbing.

Here’s how I see it, though. Kenny is built up as an extremely sympathetic character. He’s obviously troubled and shy, his father is mysteriously absent, his mother seems nice but kind of distant and oblivious, he lives in a poor area, he has a shitty job, and his colleagues bully him. He’s also nice to children, although of course this takes on an extra layer of meaning in the wake of the final revelations. For most of the episode, we assume that the blackmailers are just malevolent bastards who get a kick out of seeing people suffer. At the end, we find out that all the targets are ‘deserving’ of punishment to some extent: a racist politician, a man cheating on his wife with a prostitute, a peeping tom. And Kenny is singled out for the worst punishment – he will now be tried for looking at child porn, robbing a bank, and killing a man – because he is the worst offender.

So these blackmailers are actually moral vigilantes, an extension of stuff like WikiLeaks, Anonymous, and especially ‘The Impact Team’ who hacked the notorious Ashley Madison website, exposing thousands of philandering bastards in the process. When I heard about that story, I couldn’t help thinking that some of the users involved, however small a proportion, must have been sad lonely people trapped in loveless marriages, who had finally found some straw of happiness to cling to – for all that I participated in the schadenfreude this story was greeted with, I also felt conflicted about it.

At the end of this episode, I still felt sorry for Kenny. Looking at child porn is terrible, because it helps to support and perpetuate the sexual abuse of children, and Kenny is morally culpable for looking at those photos. He shouldn’t be able to get away with it, and some kind of punishment is appropriate. But he’s still the confused, tormented kid we’ve come to know in the course of the episode, even if that one crucial piece of information was withheld from us. This isn’t one of those lame twisty thrillers where the hero turns out to be the bad guy, and puts on an evil face and evil voice at the end. It’s important that, when we sort of find out what Kenny has done, we also see that he would rather kill himself than kill another human being; he doesn’t just pull the gun out and cold-bloodedly try to shoot his opponent. That tells us that he isn’t simply an evil, conscience-less person; on the contrary, he obviously feels genuine guilt and self-loathing for what he has done.

But to reiterate, in our culture today, if someone has done something wrong, and especially if they’re found to have paedophilic desires, they are instantly and automatically an inherently bad person, undeserving of empathy, deserving of the most extreme punishment – and it’s clear that Kenny, if he doesn’t manage to kill himself, now faces a lifelong Hell-on-Earth – and whatever else you thought you knew about them needs to be dismissed and forgotten. I’m actually quite nervous about even writing this post, because I’m afraid that someone might respond by saying, ‘How can you sympathise with a paedophile? Are you a paedo yourself or something?’ I wish I lived in a society that was able to see these issues in a balanced, measured, responsible way, and that could see Kenny the way I see him: as someone who has committed a crime and should be brought to justice, but who is also a human being in need of care and sympathy.

Having looked at this issue from the angle of the media (in White Bear, which is basically a Daily Mail comments page come to life) and in terms of state-run torture and punishment (in White Christmas), Shut Up and Dance considers the role that vigilante hackers might play in a society as de-humanising as ours. As Brooker said in one of his yearly review shows, ‘We’re getting better at dismissing people’. For all that this was a flawed episode – I wish they’d been able to get the same director as for White Bear, as then it might have had better pacing and momentum – I love that this show is courageous enough to suggest that there is a serious problem with a culture that defines its morality in terms of how much it can hate and punish ‘bad people’. It isn’t one-sided, and to some extent it’s undoubtedly a good thing that such acts are now easier to expose, harder to get away with. But the spirit in which they are exposed and punished matters a great deal, and it’s horrifying that we might be in danger of losing sight of that fact.
Last edited by Sloper on Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Black Mirror

#38 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Seen the first three of the new series. Not a great fan of Nosedive, the moral lessons of which seemed a bit obvious and trite. I was initially concerned that the bigger budgets and bigger stars would mean Black Mirror might lose something of the original series, but Playtest showed that it's still rooted in near-future Britain. Of the three, it's Shut Up and Dance which scared the crap out of me. This was an episode where I didn't have to suspend disbelief at all. Who knows where a careless click when you're trying to keep your laptop secure will end up? It had that White Bear thing of pulling the rug from under you about the main character you've spent an hour caring about, hoping he'd get out of his misfortune. The fight to the death was just unpleasant but you can see this kind of thing happening
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- in the UK we have vigilantes trying to entrap child molesters online and then acting as judge, jury and executioner
. Of course there was no real motivation for the trolling but then when is there?

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pzadvance
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Re: Black Mirror

#39 Post by pzadvance » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:57 am

Really enjoying this new season so far. Just finished Shut Up and Dance, liked it a lot, but am wondering
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how the blackmailers had any info about what KIND of images Kenny was looking at given that their video was shot from his computer's webcam? By definition that video could not possibly show the content of his computer screen, it would only show him, ah... reacting to it. Maybe I'm missing something but this struck me as an odd oversight given how crucially that info ends up playing into the episode.

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Sloper
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Re: Black Mirror

#40 Post by Sloper » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:01 am

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I think the Shrive programme Kenny downloads keeps track of what he's looking at, as well as filming him. They couldn't spell this out at the start of the episode without revealing the twist, of course, but we can assume that at the end the hackers release the video and the pictures at the same time - maybe with a split-screen effect!

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Black Mirror

#41 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:58 pm

Sloper wrote:
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I think the Shrive programme Kenny downloads keeps track of what he's looking at, as well as filming him. They couldn't spell this out at the start of the episode without revealing the twist, of course, but we can assume that at the end the hackers release the video and the pictures at the same time - maybe with a split-screen effect!
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Yeah that's what I figured. Makes you wonder, would any of us be happy with our browsing history being shared? Even if you'd not done anything like as bad as these people - maybe you just listened to a Maroon 5 song on the sly! And given the hacking of the Fancy Bears of international athletes in the news, perhaps nothing is immune from cyber attack. The only thing to do is quit the Internet! Most chilling moment in this one was Kenny meeting the paedophile in the woods and having to fight to the death

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barryconvex
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Re: Black Mirror

#42 Post by barryconvex » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:28 pm

Ive always thought of Bryce Howard as a second rate Jessica Chastain, but Nosedive was one of the strongest performances i've seen on netflix and I think might have even topped anything Chastain has done. She really went all out and I'm sure Rashida Jones (as the writer) coordinated with her to dial in on the character.
phantomforce-I agree 100% with everything in the above paragraph.

Sloper-thank you for an excellent post and a new way of looking at the episode but i'm still not completely sold on it. Although in retrospect the Radiohead song that plays at the end seems to support your position and i can now see why it was chosen.

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Sloper
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Re: Black Mirror

#43 Post by Sloper » Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:37 am

Absolutely, it was a horribly appropriate song choice:
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'we hope that you choke...'
Mallory Ortberg wrote a brilliant piss-take of this show last year. Apparently the phrase 'what if phones, but too much' can briefly be seen on a computer screen in Hated in the Nation, and partly inspired the ending of Playtest.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Black Mirror

#44 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:28 am

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One of the best bits in Shut Up and Dance was the scene when the hotel manager's racism was leaked online - the website also featured gossip on Michael Callow (the PM in The National Anthem) divorcing and Victoria Skillane (from White Bear).

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Black Mirror

#45 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:59 am

Finished these now. San Junipero was great and the closing scene of
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Belinda Carlisle playing over the blinking lights of the huge server room
is probably the most emotionally satisfying thing Brooker has written. Men Against Fire seems to be one of the less liked episodes of the series and I suppose its twists can be telegraphed especially when
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Michael Kelly from House of Cards is a seemingly benign shrink
. Hated in the Nation will make you think twice about who you criticise from the anonymity of your laptop! A fairly up and down series overall but the highs were pretty high.

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Re: Black Mirror

#46 Post by djproject » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:28 am

Regarding "Shut Up and Dance"
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When I watched it with some friends from mine, they found it amusing that I was fixated with the use of Radiohead's "Exit Music (for a Film)" at the very end. While I can understand musically why it was chosen, I can't help but remember its original context and therefore I think the lyrics were not entirely appropriate for that particular denouement. If they wanted to go Radiohead, "You and Whose Army" or "I Might Be Wrong" or "We Suck Young Blood" could have worked better all-around. Just my two shillings =].

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Murdoch
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Re: Black Mirror

#47 Post by Murdoch » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:54 am

I decided to dive into this the last few days since nothing else caught my eye on the usual services and I'd heard many great accolades for this. When the show works, as with the Christmas Special and the National Anthem, it achieves a topical brilliance that does well to reflect public paranoia over social media and networking. But unfortunately I found the bulk of the show a humorless bore. Outside of the two episodes I mentioned, only a few others rise above their initial concepts, while fare like 15 Million Merits left me scratching my head over what justified the praise.
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The moment where the protagonist lies huddled in a ball, the images of his crush plastered across the walls as she's molested may be the lowest point of the series. It presents this over-the-top self-seriousness that borders on parody. As a friend of mine commented, "It's a bit much."
Unfortunately that humorlessness is a common trait of the series, leaving the absurdist National Anthem behind for finger wagging.

I did rather like the cap to the third season though, which skillfully weaves a procedural mystery with death threats as populism. But for each one of the hits there were two or three misses. I still anticipate season four since I think Black Mirror is capable of biting social critique and hope those moments aren't as few and far between as I've found them to be so far.

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Sloper
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Re: Black Mirror

#48 Post by Sloper » Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:44 pm

It's interesting that you see it as humourless - I guess I can understand that, and judging from other critiques I've read you're certainly not alone. The show is inspired by stuff like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I think it tries to imitate the tone of those series. So if you think of episodes like 'Time Enough at Last' or 'The Bellero Shield', they combine a sort of portentous, even apocalyptic self-seriousness with a wry awareness that these are essentially just glorified campfire stories. The scene you mention in 'Fifteen Million Merits', like that whole episode, seems to me to be very conscious that it is all 'a bit much', that this is not just an extremely painful nightmare scenario, but also a deliberately absurdist one. The ending of 'White Christmas' is another good example: it scared the hell out of me, and still haunts me two years later, but on one important level it's obviously a (very dark) joke. Charlie Brooker has said that, when developing each story, he tends to come up with scenarios that make him laugh (and that make his producer, Annabel Jones, cry), and those familiar with his comedy career (from TVGoHome onwards) will recognise his particular brand of humour in the Black Mirror stories. When my wife and I are watching the show, we tend to laugh even during the darkest episodes - even 'White Bear', for instance - and then feel kind of hollowed out afterwards. But humour is very subjective, and I can see that, if the humour in this show doesn't work for you, it must be a bit of a chore to sit through! If anything, I wish it would sometimes follow through on its more serious ideas. The ending of 'Playtest' was disappointingly flippant, after the genuinely moving, harrowing things that preceded it.

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Murdoch
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Re: Black Mirror

#49 Post by Murdoch » Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:29 pm

I do find certain humor in entries like National Anthem and White Bear, more so the former. Nosedive as well takes on the common arc of an ugly duckling story, infecting its world with a candy-colored aesthetic that quickly feels purposefully overbearing. The ending to San Junipero does a superb about-face that left me spinning, although what came before felt uneven despite how perfectly it captured the respective eras displayed.

But even White Bear rubbed me the wrong way, largely because I dislike the style of storytelling whereby the audience is dragged along in a senseless plot resolved by a sudden reveal. I got a kick out of Playtest's Kojima riff, but the episode as a whole fell into the trap of any plot wherein reality becomes an unknown - folding one possible state into another and ending itself by throwing its hands up in the air.

I appreciate the sense of irony pervading the series, but I feel like it peaked with its first episode. Which is not to say I found nothing worthwhile after it, but rather I found National Anthem the best bit of absurdist popular entertainment in decades, such that anything to come after would inevitably suffer by comparison. It's like a contemporary Bunuel film, playing its concept straight and letting the the audience decide whether to laugh or gag. That same sense of absurdity felt lacking afterward, and even when snippets of it shine through in White Bear or Shut Up and Dance, the surrounding material seems weaker.

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Re: Black Mirror

#50 Post by Harry Caul » Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:21 am

I liked every episode of Black Mirror - superb show.

San Junipero was unquestionably my favorite, and one of the most poignant episodes of any TV series I've ever seen. This was definitely relatable to me due to both the partial '80's setting (I'm an '80's kid & a huge fan of that era) & the
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nursing home aspect: I have had relatives in nursing homes (now passed), and understand how difficult an existence that is - i.e. being in such bad physical shape that you can't take care of yourself, etc. So, having technology available to you where you can "escape" that disheartening existence by going into a fantasy world where you're young & vibrant & where life is a never-ending party is extremely attractive.
The love story/relationship between the two main characters was quite touching; I'm not a huge fan of love stories in films/TV series, but this was very effectively done here.

Amazing '80's soundtrack as well, including INXS, Belinda C., Robert Palmer, OMD, etc.

One of my favorite scenes was when the young woman was trying to figure out what to wear to the club, and stood in front of the mirror trying on various outfits, while playing different '80's songs on her cassette deck; each specific song correlated to the outfit she was wearing - very nostalgic.

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