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Unnerving USS Callister

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Finally Black Mirror is back and perhaps in the same chaotic way you feel after watching an episode – my thoughts are going to be sporadic and non linear below. I was well and truly ready for my disturbing dose. Eager with anticipation, I wondered just how far down the technological rabbit hole will we go this time? Well, it seems rather than going down a rabbit hole we were out in space hurtling towards an all consuming black hole.

Revenge of the socially awkward nerd indeed!

When I was at university studying film, we often discussed that some horror films walk that fine line of being scary then falling into the cheesy and laughable zone. Once it crossed into a B grade kitsch movie it lost your engagement and the purpose of what a horror film is meant to do. USS Canister definitely had elements that were blended with that uneasy heightened humour but the horror was still very real.

On completion my brain jumped to thinking about this – what will become of mental health services and treatment in the future when you are dealing with the likes of Robert Daly? How many undiagnosed secret personality disorders will be floating around in cyberspace world. If your behaviour isn’t being exhibited in the real world is it even justifiable to condemn someone for online behaviours?  It immediately made me think of the brilliant play ,The Nether, that questions this very idea.

Perhaps the highlight for me was the brilliant Jimmi Simpson. You all know by now I love the characters that he plays. I was having some kind of withdrawal, I admit,  from Westworld so this was a nice appetiser to get me through. Playing Walton we see a two dimensional asshole in the real world in the role of CEO, but a submissive man with layered emotions and a black sense of humour on the spaceship. My favourite bit is his constant shot drinking and referring to drinking poison – because they can with their non existent livers. I think it is safe to say we all might be nicer to our work colleagues just incase on the monthly fridge  they decide to pilfer your leftovers  because you didn’t fill the printer back up with paper.

As is always the case, each episode has so many socially relevant topics we could deep dive into and get very academically focused over them (but my dads of critically theory are over) however, I found the aspect of fandom or worship taken to the extreme in this episode. Imagine the threat this would pose to the generally well protected celebrities of the world or our government leaders. A true and dangerously intimate invasion of privacy.

This is the future people – if we can come up with it in a writing room it is only a matter of time before this is real.

 

 

 

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Splendid San Junipero

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Black Mirror Spoilers

Ever wake up and think you want to escape to somewhere like you know, San Junipero?! Yes…that’s the first thought I had upon waking today.

Thanks to the latest season of Black Mirror, I can’t stop daydreaming into that landscape and world that is the party town and endless dance floor of San Junipero.

I realise that on one level that may sound particularly morbid inferring  the obvious but truly I just want a large dose of escapism for a while where I can drink diet coke in glass bottles (the only and best way to drink it) dance around to nostalgic  80s tunes, play by the ocean and have a whirlwind, passionate romance.

It really resonated with me. Isn’t that what good TV is? When it stays with you, has meaning, taps into a memory and lingers so that you visit that pocket of the show. I must have watched the ending credits 20 times. I tear up every time I watch it and question the notions of happiness and contentment, love and the technology that disturbingly caters for it at the tucker institute.

Maybe I am beyond disillusioned, maybe I am a hopeless romantic or just hopeful… maybe the theme of love really being all that matters was touching some vulnerable spots in me. Well it worked!

Aside from the killer soundtrack and the visuals being so heavily drenched in all things 80s, the writing is great – leaving gaps and keeping dialogue vague to to let the story unfold. I loved this – allowing the audience focus more on what matters – their relationship. It also seemed a refreshing episode suggesting that not all technological endeavours in the future are negative or to be feared. I also think  this episode could be used for a pro euthanasia argument  – allowing people to make decisions and  be empowered , whilst using the metaphor of going to a better place like San Junipero – it could be replaced with any other version of their “ happy place” .

I have read and heard a lot of speculation about Kelly and Yorkie and whether or not they drive off into the sunset and get their perfect ending – I suppose it doesn’t matter. Whatever loop they are in within their consciousness has them together with a complete sense of joy rapture and togetherness.

The song choice couldn’t be better for the closing credit sequence. “ Do you know what that’s worth”  – the value of life, death, choices and chasing the desire to be happy with the time we have.

If anything, Heaven indeed is a place on earth and it is located in big corporate server room at TCKR systems !

 

 

 

 

It’s “Easy” to watch…

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After a disastrous date day with myself (yes, that’s a thing….someone has to do it so it may as well be me) where I tried to watch a movie but had a couple commentating the entire way through, I decided to swing into the supermarket get some emotional eating/drinking supplies, head home and see what delights were on Netflix – people and noise free.

“Easy” appeared first in my recommended for you list. I also received an email from Netflix earlier that week so thought I would give it a whirl. 7 episodes later, chip crumbs all over me and running dangerously low on diet coke, it would appear that it held my interest. I only have one left to go….

Let me tell you quickly why I enjoyed it so much. I am pretty fussy. I work in TV, I watch an AWFUL lot of it, I try to write about it and play around with scripts so I suppose I am as much of a critic as anyone can be these days. Joe Swanberg is not unknown to me he is an indie genius … he has an extensive list of work to his name ( not familiar with ALL) – but I have seen his more recent works like “Drinking Buddies” and loved the episode he did of “Love”.

The show is about the interactions and various relationship dynamics in Chicago. Each episode is different, with no obvious  or  consistent continuity and I really like it.  Bite size commentary, interesting insighst and a look into the dynamic and ever changing world of people and how they relate to each other. I found it fascinating  – at least from a psychologically point of view. It’s relevant and realistic in terms of the dialogue and behaviours – you will easily be able to identify people like that in your group or wider circles.  Writing in such a seamless/effortless manner is no easy task – but this show captures this and has executed it successfully.

I was reading a review about it  and was also just told by someone today that it was a “mumblecore” genre…and that the Dupalss Bros (who I ADORE) are in this category – sometimes it baffles me how much I DON’T know. That term is defined as such:

mumblecoreˈ     mʌmb(ə)lkɔː/

noun

  1. a style of low-budget film typically characterized by the use of non-professional actors and naturalistic or improvised performances.

“an actor/filmmaker known for his cinematic experimentations with mumblecore”

I suppose that is accurate – ish. The natural flow of this series is fascinating. It may challenge some people who are used to a particular formula and set up of a TV show – just go with the flow is my advice on this one.

I have found myself pondering relationships around me and wondering what on earth it is like out there these days – all triggered from the show. Perhaps the reason why I thoroughly love this so much is that it is, at its core, very real. There are so many layers, stories, people, places, events and interactions that go on in our daily lives and no one has any idea about those complexities or intricacies. I like that this show provides a potential (even if fictional) insight into what else is going on out there outside of your head and social circle. Such a vastness of experiences!

There is something very exciting and unrefined (not in a bad way) about his style and the way he writes and creates. An exceptional talent and one I hope to draw on it for my future dabbling.

Finally, the best thing about “Easy” is that it is easy to watch!

Check the trailer out….

Oh yeah, it also has a killer cast ….and yes, they are all awesome in their roles… Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Jake Johnson, Marc Maron, Dave Franco, Hannibal Buress, Emily Ratajkowski, Michael Chernus, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Aya Cash, Jane Adams, Elizabeth Reaser, Evan Jonigkeit.

oh and episode 6 – MY OH MY.

 

Laboured Love

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Hooray it was pouring rain on Sunday which was the ideal environment for Netflix, diet coke and binge watching the original series, LOVE.  I watch so much TV and work in TV – the reason why I get attached to certain shows is that I seem to be drawn more and more to shows that make me laugh but also allow me to examine and question some of the bigger topics in life in a non confrontational way. For this reason, I am loving watching LOVE.

( It would be remiss of me to not mention at this point the  wonderful acting by Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs and the superb minds who created the show, Judd Apatow, Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin . Needless to say Paul Rust is sensational and he could bump Thomas Middleditch/Richard Hendricks from Silicon Valley as my number 1 onscreen nerd crush…)

I gave it a good, solid attempt and have a few eps left to go but still wanted to chatter about one or two points. Yes, LOVE is a somewhat huge, all encompassing title for a show. For me, I am enjoying how it explores the heightened states of anxiety surrounding hook up/meeting people culture. It delves into the emotional make up of the characters which is intriguing for me as it takes a more psychological approach which I was not expecting. It’s like a backlash to all those Hollywood romance genres and notions we hold.

The main characters, Gus and Mickey, are not overly appealing however they are real. If we were going to stereotype or categorise them then perhaps we could say that Gus is a nerdy, intellectual good guy and Mickey is a sassy but wounded soul, carrying addiction issues.

Anyway you can watch it and draw your own conclusions but I wanted to focus on this state we get into after we meet someone – and it terrifies me. I think the show has brilliantly captured this dance we do  when we meet someone. From over analysing texts, to obsessively stalking on social media  – the show really examines our behaviours (mostly unhealthy) when we meet someone new. I liked the scene where Gus is texting Mickey and deletes several messages – rather than being himself and writing a small thesis (something I can identify with) he has several attempts at being succinct and what he assumes will be of the “ playing it cool” tone. As highlighted by Gus’s colleague, ‘nothing dries up a girls vagina more than a paragraph of text.’ So many assumptions! I always liked the expression that like attracts like. Personally, intellectual stimulation floats my boat so I welcome a mini thesis on text . How else can you capture your audience and who knows how long you will maintain their interest for?! I found this whole episode a great commentary on why we censor ourselves more and more. It seems social media has created certain rules within rules and it’s hard to just let yourself be. I think some deeper ideas behind that episode pose the question –  Does that constant censoring/adapting/modifying of yourself effect who you end up with and how does that unfold in your relationship? No one can keep that behavioural pattern up?! It’s effort all the time. There is so much dialogue around social media, hook up culture and its impact on your relationship out there now that it really is its own character within shows.

A particularly dark and interesting scene was where Mickey is feeling rejected/abandoned and is obsessively looking at Gus’s facebook post. We can so easily lose ourselves and feel a true connection via nothing but images. We assume we know a person from these mediums.

Perhaps at its core of the show,  is this concept: when you meet a potential partner are they being themselves or is there so much set up and false pretense that the relationship breakdown is inevitable – no one can keep up appearances that well before the cracks of their past relationships, behavioural patterns and bad habits leak out or erupt. Can people truly just be and accept each other for light and dark ? This concept really challenges me – there’s so much vulnerability involved these days. The pressure of having to look good and being completely judged and swiped on any social media is enough to do your heads in.  It’s pretty rare to connect genuinely these days from the get go. Sometimes the simplicity of the Austen novels is beyond appealing. Dropping expectations of ourselves and others seem key to successful relationships be it romantic or otherwise and I found myself thinking deeply on these topics after episodes 7 and 8. Authenticity is a question this show is asking its viewers. Are we authentic to ourselves  and others or are we drowning in perceived reality and projected highlights of social media?

A few more episodes to go and we will see how it unfolds. Can they stay grounded and rooted, be themselves and be in a relationship or is compromise just too hard these days?! One thing that seems a constant these days is that love actually seems more like this …

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and less like this…

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