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Thread: Black Mirror

  1. #26
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    I thought this one was far too on point, but not quite lazy. Because I don't think Brooker took an easy swipe at "social media." I think he was criticizing stuff like this, which caused a stir in tech circles back in the say ("You can get points for brushing your teeth"). Or this. There are people running around in the world, right now, working tech and saying things like "Your bank balance is your high score" and saying them seriously.

    He's concerned with the eventual gamification of nearly everything, but especially human interactions. This makes the episode not so simple, and deeper than it appears, because I'm not sure people realize how badly Facebook, Twitter, et al are intentionally designed to manipulate them. Or how easy it is. I'm not sure they know how services like Task Rabbit and Uber work, where your continued employment is based on a user score.

    The ending should resonate with a anyone who's ever worked a retail job-- people with prestige and power present workaday slobs with a choice that's not really a choice, in a society that has narrowed choice to nothing (ie the complete collapse of a middle class).
    I didn't find any of this as revelatory as you did, because my memory of the episode (I watched it maybe 3 years ago at this point) is that it uses the gamification aspect as world-building currency, but doesn't actually comment on it much, because it shifts gears to be about breads-and-circuses as its central satire and the guy's character arc. I'm not even sure it was self-aware about the fact that the guy treated the girl as another purchase, since it seems to position that relationship as an example of a "real" human interaction breaking through the system.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  2. #27
    Super Moderator dreamdead's Avatar
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    Guys, guys.

    This is glossing the fact that, as Irish states, the third episode is just killer. And the fourth episode is equally good. Still processing thoughts on it, but I don't think it's misanthropic as a series. Rather, it's deeply committed to exploring how much we prioritize, both healthily and bitterly, sex in our daily lives. All four of the first episodes grapple with the fundamental act of sex as a core human behavior, and in turn study how we respond to those we love, or believe we love, when they move beyond "normal" sexual relations.

    The third episode is what I always wanted Bigelow's Strange Days to be. While I quite like that film, this episode captures all of the vital aspects that Cameron and Bigelow develop even as it grounds the themes in personal drama rather than film noir. This episode is just absolutely phenomenal.

    The fourth episode moves outside the cynical nature of its climax, struggling to reinvigorate AI and the artificial intelligence body, when it's last two minutes grant technology the humanity that the show is elsewhere conveying.
    Ant-Man and the Wasp - 5
    Hereditary - 7
    Won't You Be My Neighbor? - 7.5
    The Tale - 8

  3. #28
    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    How is it 2015 and I can't legally watch the Black Mirror Christmas special?
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  4. #29
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting EyesWideOpen (view post)
    How is it 2015 and I can't legally watch the Black Mirror Christmas special?
    You can. They put it up on YouTube.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  5. #30
    Ain't that just the way EyesWideOpen's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting number8 (view post)
    You can. They put it up on YouTube.
    Just watched it. Episode was fantastic but the quality was lacking. Besides the small little box that Black Mirror puts their youtube videos up in it was fine for the first half or so but then the sound cut out 3 or 4 times for 30 seconds or so each and then the sound got out of sync for the last half which was annoying.
    TV Recently Finished:
    Catastrophe: Season 1 (2015) A
    Rectify: Season 3 (2015) A-
    Bojack Horseman: Season 2 (2015) A
    True Detective: Season 2 (2015) A-
    Wayward Pines: Season 1 (2015) B

    Currently Playing: Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (replay) (XB1) / Contradiction (PC)
    Recently Finished: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (PS4) A+ / Life is Strange: Ep 4 (PS4) A / Bastion (replay) (PS4) B+

  6. #31
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Wow, the Christmas episode is excellent.

  7. #32
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    I recently marathoned all the episodes again because my roommate hadn't seen it, and I told her that she should start with "The Entire History of You" instead of the first two episodes, and that got her hooked to see the rest. I think that was a good decision. I still think it's unfortunate that the show's first two episodes are what I consider its two worst. Well, maybe tied with the Waldo one.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  8. #33
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    Come to think of it, I like the show best when its critique on society serves more as a backdrop to a personal story, like in "Entire History of You," "Be Right Back," and the Christmas episode. Less so the other way around, which is what the other episodes did.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  9. #34
    Director Spun Lepton's Avatar
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    So, you're saying the first episode is not a good gauge for the rest of the series? Because I watched it and I was wholly unimpressed.

  10. #35
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    I dunno about representation, I just think that with anthology shows, there's no harm in seeing the best received episodes first to see if the show at its best can hook you. I certainly never tried watching Twilight Zone or Tales From the Crypt in order.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  11. #36
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    But... the first episode is the one with the pig, right? Who in the world is not inmediately hooked by that?

  12. #37
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    It's dumb.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  13. #38
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    How so?

  14. #39
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    It's a satire on the media's relationship with social media conformity centered on pig fucking. And [
    ]. It just... Everything about it reeks of low-hanging fruits. Like I said, I don't find the show all that compelling when it overreaches to make a statement on our relationship with technology on a societal level.

    I can see why they started with that, though. A head of state being forced to fuck a pig is probably a more headline grabbing pilot than broken dreams and relationships.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  15. #40
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Hm. Okay. What would be an example of "high hanging" fruit, then?

    Ps: I think it's more than "a satire on the media's relationship with social media conformity." And the final reveal has to happen in order for the larger story to resonate.

  16. #41
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Just watched the first episode. Some real tension and dread. I didn't buy some of the more minor touches, like the idea that people would watch 60 minutes of a man fucking a pig, even a PM. The ticking clock element was pretty effective given that it seemed a foregone conclusion that the guy was gonna fuck the pig. The tech stuff was more useful as a means of raising the stakes than as meaningful commentary on our relationship with gadgets. The more interesting idea, that a fundamentally useless relic of old government captures the public fascination more than a bureaucratic but truly powerful prime minister, is more subdued but a little more fresh of a subject. Fine acting from the lead. Looks like it was shot by David Fincher's first assistant director.

    Fascinating moment by moment but a little vaporous as an experience. Irony being that I'll remember mostly as that one where a guy fucked a pig, when it seemed judgmental of our interest in shocking images. Hypocrisy or provocation? Who knows. I'm gonna mix me a White Russian and watch the next one.

    Criminal that the tag at the end wasn't the PM and the pig smoking cigarettes in bed.
    Last edited by Dead & Messed Up; 03-16-2015 at 07:06 AM.

  17. #42
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    "15 Million Merits" is about as good as the first episode, which is to say... pretty good. The best element by far is the production design, which reminds me of the elegance of Gattaca in keeping sci-fi advancements simple and clean - worlds seemingly devised by Apple. Number8 points out quite rightly that the episode lurches into a strangely obvious Network reprise, and that dampens the effect (although Bing's Shard as a collectible Mii item is admittedly a great touch). The central performance is pretty grand, even with that eye-rollingly obvious speech at the end (to say nothing of the inevitable response). Again, I'm finding myself enjoying the little details more. My favorite bit is how something like the twitchy vending machine is first a mundane detail, then a means of two characters interacting, and then a way for the hero to save points by grabbing stuck apples. That's some sharp storytelling economy. I also liked how the Miis and graphics on-screen were simple to the point of almost being retro.

    I get the Twilight Zone comparison given that this is a fantasy anthology show delivering social commentary, but I gotta go with my original take (and the take of Davis) that the attitude of the show couldn't be further from Serling's enduring humanism. This often seems snide and self-righteous.

  18. #43
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Third episode with the eye recordings. Uh, good? I was surprised they took such a potent premise and made it about a couple descending into distrust and acrimony. And very surprised that the hints about false memories weren't followed up on. Instead, it's mostly a series of lies emotionally beaten out of the wife. The parallels to records like text and online messaging give it a feel of plausibility, and, again the lack of exposition regarding the main device makes for engaging watching. But my interest peaked in the first half and slowly diminished.

    I also wonder if part of the problem is that things never felt all that tragic because the husband adjusted so quickly into a drunken, violent boor, while the wife doesn't exhibit guilt so much as shame of being caught. To wit, they shed their sympathetic veneers with reasonable speed (you quickly realize every admission by the wife is just another lie). I don't know that any drama would've been lost by making the husband more pained and less aggressive - that scene with him interrogating the maid was tedious, boilerplate business. One level above a Lifetime movie.

  19. #44
    Super Moderator dreamdead's Avatar
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    The show does dabble pretty extensively in tropes of masculinity and manhood, so the husband being aggressive was something that I took for granted. On some level a lot of this show comes out of an assessment of the everyman not as virtuous but as perpetually wounded, perpetually wanting to strike out and assert his (as the show's more typically focused around a male protagonist) virility.

    There are ways in which I do agree with those who believe that "The Entire History of You" is the show's best episode. While the husband doubles down on craziness pretty quickly, so much of that episode is about hyper-competitiveness and self-assessment that the masculinity angle is just one more approach. The whole business with the maid is where the show's treatment of class is, admittedly, more cartoonish.

    Sarah's teaching "White Bear" from season 2 in her sci fi class, so I'm interested to see what that one gains, or loses, when one knows the twist ahead of time.
    Ant-Man and the Wasp - 5
    Hereditary - 7
    Won't You Be My Neighbor? - 7.5
    The Tale - 8

  20. #45
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    Kind of confusing news.

    If I'm understanding it right, Channel 4 has commissioned a 3rd series, but Brooker is also writing original American-set episodes for Netflix.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  21. #46
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  22. #47
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    Funny how many come in here after two episodes of the first season, and I just did the same. I am not overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the two, just whelmed. Gorgeously crafted with many on-point details and good performances, but feel like they are conceived as thesis statements first then get worked backwards into a story, but not quite fully there yet. The second episode, especially, makes the characters feel such pawns to the plot and world-buildings instead of fully realized characters (I know the situations mean the people in this story are subservient, but it would be nice to have them extend beyond their archetype details so the horror of this story hits home more), so that I wasn't quite the whole way emotionally engaged, although the world disturbs me in a good way. In this regard I like the first episode more; having it be a present world means also more time with the characters so they just feel more like real people, I guess.

    I am not turned off and gonna watch every episode, although I have heard so much about "White Bear" being brutal and/or highly disturbing that I am bracing myself a bit for that episode.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  23. #48
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Peng (view post)
    I am not overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the two, just whelmed.

  24. #49
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    "The Entire History of You" In some ways, this might be the best episode of the first season, and the most convincing expression so far of the show's thesis in how technology can amplify our worst impulses as a human being, or at least make us arrive at the inevitable faster. The tech is believable and only just slightly exaggerated from the present to give chills, the integration into everyday life is seamless, and the way it is used to advance a familiarly grueling story like distrust and paranoia in a relationship is just great. But again, one stumbling block, and the clearest example of why people often compare this show unfavorably to The Twilight Zone: the humans in that relationship. I feel the disturbing horror and discomfort of their disintegration, but never the keen sense of loss. I don't know whether it's the nuance in writing or the performances (but highly suspecting the former), but the way the couple is presented, I never get a handle of them as complex people, which is crucial for a story like this. The husband especially just becomes this raging, jealous, overbearing asshole from the get-go; I don't expect characters to be sympathetic, but some empathy beyond what the situations are doing to them would be nice. A twinge of sadness I feel in the last scene comes from the stark contrast in what the technology allows him to see what used to be, but not necessarily for him. So, still prefer "The National Anthem" most out of the first season.

    Ranking for now:
    1. "The National Anthem" B+
    2. "The Entire History of You" B+
    3. "15 Million Merits" B

    And next episode features Haley Atwell! Gets briefly excited before wondering what fresh hell will await her character.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  25. #50
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    I've been watching these in the last week too, some fully for the first time, others because it's been so long since I have seen them that I wanted to revisit them before starting with the Netflix ones. And.. as much as I get the issues some of you had with them (but never actually read until now), I kinda love them all to varying degrees.

    "The National Anthem" is particularly different episode in a post-Brexit world where David Cameron has now had vengeful allegations leading to an actual scandal about fucking a pig, and Kate Middleton (the closest proxy to Princess Susannah here) has become even more of a public deity. But beyond its marquee shock pitch, I thought the most interesting aspect of it was its way of imagining the media's morality and actions in keeping with what they think they had the responsibility to divulge and the integrity not to, all while agreeing to the PM's office terms to an extent and falling behind while it's already wildly spun out through YouTube and social media. Also focusing on how the public's sympathies easily shift simply based on the information they have about when and why they were given other previous information regarding things, and how that influences the powers that be and the media to act as a result, is maybe a tad over-exaggerated here, but it's an avenue of ideas so few other modern things tackle, so its over-the-top nature just drives at it faster. Writing this in the final days of the circus that has been this American election, especially compared to the other episodes in this show, this barely feels like a world other than our own now.

    I think "Fifteen Million Merits" is the one that understandably works really well for you or totally doesn't, but honestly, for me, it's great in all its antiseptic, gaudy, insular, grim ways. Growing up in a generation that's felt a lot of the struggles of simply buying time and devices in your life and work to achieve the "freedom" of time glued to a screen, and seeing even younger generations of people in my life revolve their time more and more around gaming and fed entertainment without ever having been removed from those habits to see it as either good or bad, but simply a weird necessity. Sure, the episode is simplistic, narrow satire, but it's not like it's coming from an incorrect fear. To me, a lot of my favourite sci-fi just simply takes a look at a current moment and says "What if we just did what we're doing now forever" and throws it directly into its most interesting extreme of a future, and to me, this episode's world is as much a time capsule of 2011 fears as it is a warning to the augmented reality, everything-is-documented/snapped "or what is it for??" world we're still pushing new levels of. My only nitpick of it is that Bing's big performance does feel a bit more along the lines of rehearsed-slam-poetry (whether that's intentional or just what Kaluuya's otherwise very good performance unconsciously brings to it) than a genuine, revolutionary, unpolished outcry. But it gets the job done emotionally and thematically, even when the expected judges' response flips things in an even more gutting way with its falsely uplifting veneer. The happy ending he gets is not having to live a life of looking at a screen, but being a part of the machine that pumps his heroic musings to others for their own corporate profit instead. In broad strokes, the forever-fame-obsessed / constant social media approval aspects of our society have the choice of Bing's natural views, but still consider being a part of our own broadcasted machines for all to see as an ultimate privilege of sorts.

    "The Entire History Of You" is probably the most confident and intelligent in its approach to premise and tonal execution, but it elicited the least powerful response in . I think the first half is significantly more effective than the second, but I do think beginning with the overanalysis of his interview at the law firm was a good way to show how didactic and crazy with minutiae of feelings with people he didn't even care for getting the approval of (categorizing them as terrible people even if he did get it) opened the door pretty perfectly for why he'd care so much about a potential fork in the road with his own wife. I think as easy (even cheap) as him getting very drunk might be to have accelerated the heightening of the emotions towards it all (as it is only 50 mins long), Kebbell's performance largely helps navigate that in a smart, engrossingly messy enough way away from feel like it only stems from a crazed bender. Your sympathies largely leave his situation the further he goes -- and you want him to unravel it to its full extent for the episode take its ideas to the furthest extent rather than actually want to experience any of it with the characters -- but the sci-fi tilt of its world does make you wonder exactly what extremes and habits you'd take on yourself. What you'd store, delete, and replay for yourself to better your day. I actually really look forward to the film version that Robert Downey Jr got the rights of this for, because as long as it keeps its core edge, it's a great storytelling to explore further.

    Quote Quoting Peng (view post)
    And next episode features Haley Atwell! Gets briefly excited before wondering what fresh hell will await her character.
    Just watched this one last night. She's pretty tremendous in it and the episode might be my favourite so far.
    Cold War (Pawlikowski, 2018) - **** / 9.3
    Minding the Gap (Liu, 2018) - **** / 9.0
    Green Book (Farrelly, 2018) - **½ / 5.8
    Mandy (Cosmatos, 2018) - **** / 8.9
    The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (Mitchell, 2019) - *** / 7.7
    Alita: Battle Angel (Rodriguez, 2019) - **½ / 5.9
    Bohemian Rhapsody ("Singer", 2018) - ** / 4.1
    Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Persichetti/Ramsey/Rothman, 2018) - **** / 9.2
    Vice (McKay, 2018) - **½ / 5.6
    The Favourite (Lanthimos, 2018) - **** / 9.3

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