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Filmspotting Message Boards => No Movie Talk Allowed => Television & Sports => Topic started by: Alan Smithee on December 15, 2014, 08:59:24 PM

Title: Black Mirror
Post by: Alan Smithee on December 15, 2014, 08:59:24 PM
Did anybody check this out on Netflix, there really great.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on January 08, 2015, 02:03:05 PM

Hated In The Nation
Fifteen Million Merits
San Junipero
White Christmas
Shut Up And Dance
Be Right Back
The Entire History Of You
Playtest
Nosedive
The National Anthem
Men Against Fire
White Bear
The Waldo Moment
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on January 10, 2015, 01:05:14 AM
The National Anthem
I liked the premise, though I correctly predicted this one right down to the post-credits reveal. The part I had the most trouble believing was the reason and intensity of the shift in public opinion. I was expecting a more serious show, and while this is treated seriously, the core idea has a satirical looniness. The recent events around The Interview came to mind while watching.

Fifteen Million Merits
This one started slow and unsure, but I loved the way they realized the world. Right now there are apps that give credits if you watch their ads. How long till it's reversed where you lose credits by skipping them? I initially thought the story peaked at the audition, which repurposes something I've noticed about modern female celebrities into much more blunt language. If you want to be famous, you have to become sexual victims. His being forced to watch her ad I took to be the final twist, but it finds new footing. The score and editing become truly excellent at this point. I'm disappointed in his moment at the end. The writing's not strong enough to make what happens believable. However, this is an hour like no other on television.

The Entire History Of You
I've noticed there are two types of fans, those who prefer the way technology is incorporated into the story and those who prefer watching how that technology impacts people's lives. I am of the first group, but for fans of the second, these next two stories are for you. You can debate if the tech just brings out bad qualities that were already there, but I think it certainly enables people's natural ability to be secretive or paranoid.

Be Right Back
I wish this one were shorter. It's a nice little story, but a bit too on the nose, combining parts of Her and About Time without tapping into the magic of either film. We only get the surface plotting here. All the stuff with Hayley Atwell by herself doing things isn't deepening the emotional content.

White Bear
What a dramatic gear shift. This is like a segment from the VHS series, with overt references to The Signal, The Purge and You're Next. In other words, a white knuckle horror film that's right in my wheelhouse. So I probably will like this more than others. It's messy, but thrilling until... Well, let's just say it's not as messy and not the simple-minded commentary on our need to record everything on our smart phones that I thought it was. The turn raised some new questions, but this is the boldest, brashest story in the pack and the one I'll re-watch first. My favorite post-credits epilogue.

The Waldo Moment
Ugh. I heard this was the bad one and boy is it. The biggest problem is that Waldo isn't a fraction as funny as the laughing audience makes him out to be. This undermines everything else. How much more interesting would it be if Steven Colbert were to actually run for office? That's kind of what this is going for, with a cartoon avatar. It just doesn't work.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: saltine on January 29, 2015, 02:57:10 AM
Ultimately, I was underwhelmed.  I would not wait in eager anticipation for more of these episodes.  Some nice casting and acting but the overall look was television-y and the plots were dull, for the most part.  My favor would be The Entire History of You, but mainly for Toby Kebbell.  Can't get enough of him.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oneaprilday on January 29, 2015, 04:09:41 PM
My favor would be The Entire History of You, but mainly for Toby Kebbell.  Can't get enough of him.
He was really good in The Escape Artist (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2649522/combined), streaming on Amazon.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on January 29, 2015, 11:54:42 PM
Fifteen Million Merits
Be Right Back
The Entire History Of You
The National Anthem
White Bear
The Waldo Moment


Take this list, reverse the colors of all the episodes from Be Right Back to The Waldo Moment, and you've got my ranking.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 21, 2016, 11:43:54 PM
It's back and it's at the top of my Must Watch list. I don't even want to waste time writing about each one because I'm deep into the binge. (Currently between eps.) Why I'm posting is I was looking for a consensus of what were the best and worst of the new season and it seems there isn't one, though everyone I've skimmed is calling the show amazing.

According to USA Today:
6. 'Shut Up and Dance'
5. 'Men Against Fire'
4. 'Playtest'
3. 'Nosedive'
2. 'Hated in the Nation'
1. 'San Junipero'

According to The Independent:
6. 'Men Against Fire'
5. 'San Junipero'
4. 'Playtest'
3. 'Hated in the Nation'
2. 'Nosedive'
1.  'Shut Up and Dance'

According to Variety:
6. Hated in the Nation
5. Shut Up and Dance
4. Nosedive
3. San Junipero
2. Playtest
1. Men Against Fire


Anyway... back into the show!
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 22, 2016, 01:25:19 AM
I've watched 3 episodes tonight. Will let them stew in my mind before I give opinions.

Shut Up and Dance is directed by James Watkins. Watkins also directed Eden Lake. If you've seen Eden Lake, the tone of the final few minutes will be familiar to you.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Junior on October 22, 2016, 01:39:45 AM
Oh, I'm excited to get there. I watched the first one, directed by Joe Wright. Loved the look of it, didn't love the pacing. Seemed like it could have been given a little more juice somewhere. Really liked the bit in the truck, even if it was exposition: the character. Bryce Dallas Howard does her thing pretty well, especially in that climax. Liked but didn't love this one.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 22, 2016, 01:45:27 AM
Well, at least we agree so far. The pacing has been my biggest problem with all three. The first 30 minutes of each of them could've been cut in half to get to where the stories are ultimately headed. The standout aspect of Joe Wright's episode is the pastel art direction.

Episode 2 stars a standout from the cast of Everybody Wants Some!! Didn't realize he's Kurt Russell's son, though it's obvious now.

Wish I didn't have to sleep.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 22, 2016, 01:33:04 PM
Wish I didn't have to sleep.

Pretty much summarizes my whole life.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 22, 2016, 11:48:32 PM
Would love to get some SPOILER talk going at some point.

Nosedive
Clever spin on internet habit of Rating, but I'm glad this was done with a light tone because it doesn't hold up if taken seriously at all. (The script is by Rashida Jones and Michael Schur.) Loved the pastel Art Direction, but it took too long to get going and was surprisingly long at the climactic scene, (a scene I thought we'd be spared.)

Playtest
A lot of this hinges on Wyatt Russell and his performance becomes increasingly irritating as he loses control of the situation, with a constant repetition of dialogue. This one aims to be more overtly a Horror episode, but there's a shallowness to the concept (acknowledged by Russell) that gives it less of a horrific impact than some later episodes. However, the character hates spiders and I hate spiders, so there's a moment where... yipes!

Shut Up and Dance
I see why this appears on the top and bottom of other ranked lists. It's ultimately a very mean episode. I'm talking Lars Von Trier levels of hatred for the characters. You can punch an audience in the gut without sickening them. That said, I prefer this approach to a pulled punch. In many ways, it's this Season's version of 'White Bear'.

San Junipero
Un-surprisingly, this emotion-filled, character rich episode is from the director of 'Be Right Back'. For a while, you might not recognize it as fitting the series at all. It takes place in the 80s, is free of modern technology and has a lot of hope. By the end it's very much a fitting part of the series, though it still is largely upbeat. A great example of the wide range of stories Black Mirror is capable of telling.

Men Against Fire
The dud. Easy to predict, overly literal interpretation of America's current political climate. By the end, I wished I had skipped this one. The best thing in it was a lead part by Sarah Snook (Predestination.)

Hated in the Nation
Feature-length, and a good summation of what makes Black Mirror so interesting. Mixing a sharp critique of social media with a police investigation and some of the most intense and scariest scenes of the series. I would say if you're on the fence about watching the show, this episode will make up your mind.



Complete Ranking of All Episodes
White Bear
San Junipero
Hated in the Nation
Fifteen Million Merits
Shut Up and Dance
White Christmas
The Entire History of You
Be Right Back
Nosedive
The National Anthem
Playtest
Men Against Fire
The Waldo Moment
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Junior on October 23, 2016, 12:18:06 AM
This is all very exciting. I'm off to watch another one now, but I'm wondering if you could help me out a bit. I am hoping to teach one of these new episodes in a unit about obscenity and censorship. I did The National Anthem last time around and while it worked OK I was hoping a newer one could work even better. I'm gonna watch all of them, but are there any that you think might fall under that category that I should prioritize? I could make a case for Nosedive based on the idea of community censorship (which gets stronger in the second half, obviously), but that's a bit of a stretch I think.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 23, 2016, 12:19:27 AM
Oh, I'm excited to get there. I watched the first one, directed by Joe Wright. Loved the look of it, didn't love the pacing. Seemed like it could have been given a little more juice somewhere. Really liked the bit in the truck, even if it was exposition: the character. Bryce Dallas Howard does her thing pretty well, especially in that climax. Liked but didn't love this one.

I'm in the same boat, like the idea of the episode but something in the delivery was just a bit off.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 23, 2016, 01:02:43 AM
Junior, none of the episodes deal directly with obscenity and censorship, but - I'm going to be as vague as I can here - Hated in the Nation does get into people's freedom to say horrible things about hated public figures in an interesting way, and there's a discussion about the possibility of a country shutting down its own internet in the interest of national security.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Junior on October 23, 2016, 02:07:12 AM
Cool, I'll check it out next, thanks!

Watched Playtest. Again liked but didn't love. There are two great Shocktober moments in the middle that easily make the overreacting and yelling worth it. Dan Trachtenberg's direction gives the locations some fun Kubrickian vibes and his the scares well, both expected following 10 Cloverfield Lane. What he doesn't nail this time around is the emotional impact. I'm not sure if that's in the writing or the performance or Trachtenberg not hitting the tone quite right.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 23, 2016, 04:45:25 AM
I think the problem with Playtest, aside from it being too shouty, is that it gets overly expository. It tells us too assertively what it is about. Still, I think it is better than Nosedive. More directly and emotionally felt rather than just being intellectually curious. Though I think it didn't know when to end.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 23, 2016, 10:37:58 AM
One of the most interesting aspects of the series is that it will often go on long past where you think the story is over. I first noticed it with your favorite, Fifteen Million Merits. It hits that Twilight Zone twist stopping point and then delivers a new angle that in the end I'm glad they included. San Junipero, Hated in the Nation and White Bear are also examples. What separates Playtest is that I'm not sure the extra material adds anything, just like I'm certain the story didn't need to take so long getting to the game.

"Trachtenberg not hitting the tone quite right." That's it.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 23, 2016, 08:55:54 PM
If anything held back the effectiveness of Shut Up And Dance for me, it is my below average sense of personal shame. But these characters aren't as prepared to defend the merits of their seemingly sympathetic, if flawed by common reckoning, behavior. Don't love the performance of the teen, otherwise I think it plays out very well.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 23, 2016, 09:28:41 PM
This is where the Spoilers come in handy.

The adult has the proper response of being a weasel who will do anything to not get caught rather than own up to what he did. Meanwhile, the kid continually downplays his crime, and I didn't suspect it might be something worse than he was saying because a video like that going public at his age seems like reason enough to join in this blackmail. Once we're told what he really did, perhaps you can wonder in hindsight why he didn't have more personal shame about his crime, and you could say the show was underplaying his actions to not give away the twist. Still, I give the episode a lot of appreciation for making it a double whammy at the end.


BTW, I'm going to watch Hated in the Nation again this month, with Mrs. 1SO. It may grow to be my favorite episode of the series, but there are a couple of moments where characters make illogical choices.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 24, 2016, 03:16:06 AM
Nosedive
A not-too-clever approach to social control by ranking.  Using internet rankings for other social factors we do use, such as wealth, popularity, job or number of posts on the FS forum, it makes a good point while keeping the tone light.  We are given the sermon that what people think of us isn't all that important, but I wonder that two people screaming F- YOU at the top of their lungs is really such an improvement.  We have left Britain and are now completely in American territory.  F- society, f- politeness, let's let our real opinions out.  Ummmm...

3.5/5
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 24, 2016, 10:12:05 AM
San Junipero

Kind of wish this had stuck with the courage of its convictions and been LESS optimistic. Still, I guess it's good to occasionally be told technology might be savior, not just a harbinger of downfall, and this is one of the more truly inspired efforts.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 24, 2016, 10:24:08 AM
This is the first time Black Mirror's supposition of possible technology seems like a benefit to humanity, though I wouldn't be surprised if they made a Return to San Junipero that showed the possible abuse of such an idea.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 24, 2016, 11:17:28 AM
Well, Quagmire was the abuse.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 25, 2016, 08:32:30 AM
Men Against Fire

There is probably something to be had in this "They Live" inspired take on othering/dehumanization in the name of war. But this just isn't very artfully crafted.

I did appreciate the call back to Fifteen Million Merits.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 26, 2016, 09:30:45 AM
Hated In The Nation

So we're nominating this for a filmspot, right? A crafty melding of concepts, from Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed to bee colony collapse to drones to NSA spying (well, the Brit version). It would be easy to have this come off as unfocused and overstuffed, but the intersectionality of all the concerns is so effective it never feels distracted. As much as I love Fifteen Million Merits, this is definitely the more polished work.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 26, 2016, 09:48:24 AM
YES!

Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 26, 2016, 01:24:43 PM
Playtime

Appropriate for Shocktober, I got scared at the spider a couple times.  But the lead was so irritating I wanted to keep shutting it off.  I don't know if there was a single moment I felt he was a real person.  And the final twist wasn't so twisty, which wouldn't matter if there was any serious drama here. 

Shut Up and Dance
It felt pointless, but it's a good moral tale: don't give in to blackmailers.  They don't care if you hang.   Kenny was played well, I really felt his fear, and when him and Hector are together, they had a great connection that people would have when they are put in a horrible spot together.  I really want to know how Kenny was able to win that fight.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 28, 2016, 12:38:28 PM
White Bear

As the place of greatest disagreement with 1SO in the series rankings, I decided to rewatch this one. I still very much don't like it.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 28, 2016, 12:52:10 PM
If I remember, our disagreement is a fundamental opinion about what the story is saying, which is not something likely to change. Still, I appreciate the attempt considering our rankings are very similar except for this one.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 28, 2016, 02:33:43 PM
I feel like it has a flaw in the lead performance akin to Playtest.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 29, 2016, 01:57:38 PM
San Junipero

I love the way this episode develops.  It's a pretty common Black Mirror trope to begin with the known and build to the unknown, to begin with a small change in technology and then see how that develops.  Although this episode begins with the known, a club in the 80s, the revelation of the unknown was masterfully done, keeping me on my toes.  And then it relates it back to the revelation of the simply human.  If there was any "bad" side to SJ, it's the way technology masks who we really are, forcing us to unmask the "lie" we have presented, which is hard on all parties involved.  Still, this is a remarkably human episode of the series.  4/5

Men Against Fire
Thematically, this is my favorite of the season.  Although it places itself from a soldier's viewpoint, this is the reality we all deal with.  We mask our hatred with an overlay of monstrosity, whether we are talking about Muslims, Tsusi, the homeless or whichever group we apply our racism, classism, or whichever other -ism to.  We not only have to have the core belief that these people are bad, but we need a story about them to make them truly horrifying, a reason to treat them inhumanely.  Soldiers are the most obvious target for this kind of propaganda, and when they discover the truth then they can easily see the government that lied to them as the enemy.  But this happens at the most basic level. 

Just a few days ago, a park ranger took a police officer to one of the homeless camps I serve.  He told the officer to sweep the camp, and the officer refused.  "We can't do that this time of year," the officer replied.  The park ranger said, "Look how dangerous this camp is!"  The officer queried, "Dangerous? How?"  "There are needles all over the place!"  So the officer and park ranger investigated the whole camp, looking for needles because there was a witness that declared that syringes were all over the ground of the camp.  In looking all over the camp, the pair didn't find a single one, either in the camp or in the surrounding area.  The park ranger left in a huff, knowing he was right, but unable to prove it.  As far as he was concerned, the homeless are monsters.  He just couldn't prove it.

I agree with Bondo that the episode wasn't very well done.  It was adequate, but had no real excellence.  But the idea of the mask we place on others so that they might be punished is a significant idea that deserves to be declared.
4/5

Hated in the Nation
An excellent mystery with a technological twist. Another example of how hacking can make a good story premise.

Now I'm going off track and getting personal.  This episode was good, the writing was excellent, but I wouldn't consider this great.  Not worthy of a Filmspot.  Because although the writing was well done, the visual presentation is simple, even starkly bare.  The actors were top notch, especially Kelly MacDonald, who knows perfectly how to play doubtful, fearful, and pretending to be sad (when will she get her own lead for a series?  Wouldn't it be great to see this episode become a pilot for it's own series?).  But is it really much more than an well-done procedural? 

I realize that 1SO's critiques of film, especially our well-loved animated films, is usually in the area of scriptwriting.  That the story should have tied this up, this is a inconsistency, this action doesn't make any sense.  I'm willing to overlook this if the filmmaking distracts me.  A good magic trick distracts away from problems in the film, and the best magic tricks aren't the ones that make sense, but where the text and the visual keeps you focused on the magic.  Sure you know it's not real magic, but it is the presentation of the illusion that is important.

1SO and I see different things in the magic trick of film.  A well-written script with good actors is enough to distract from a plot that isn't more than a well done Law and Order.  But I need more to distract me.  For a film to be great, it must have eye-widening visuals, or at least a set that stuns me.  1SO must have a tied script and the greatest of visuals won't distract him from it. 

Is this how it seems to you, 1SO?

Anyway, I'll give this episode a 4/5 because it's well done, but I don't really consider going anywhere new or particularly interesting.  It's just a pleasure to see these actors be excellent.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 29, 2016, 02:11:49 PM
San Junipero we agree completely. "remarkably human episode" indeed.

I like the theme of Men Against Fire, but I've never seen the show be this on the nose about its message. I agree with everything you say, but the complete lack of punch had me feeling like the ep was a waste of time, even though the message is one of the most important to our current climate.

I'm not in a defensive mood, so I don't want to counter your argument with a list of great visuals from Hated in the Nation, times when story was cinematically conveyed. It does seem that way to me and part of what hooked me was starting with a Detective story then transforming into horror before finally becoming something else entirely, something beyond the scope of where most movies would go let alone a TV show. The visuals are unique, but not stunning even when compared to other episodes of Black Mirror.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Junior on October 29, 2016, 02:21:45 PM
I'm with 1SO (as usual). There are a bunch of shots in Hated in the Nation that convey both a sense of isolation as well as an invisible menace that might occupy the rest of the frame. Characters are often very small and not in the center of the frame which leaves a lot of space for our imaginations to fill. I thought of Ida, actually, though it's not quite the same technique. Ida's open spaces on the top half of the frame leave room for God to show up (though he never does) where HitN's open spaces convey a sense of pressure from society. Or, at least that's how I saw it.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 29, 2016, 02:27:24 PM
Sorry, 1SO, not trying to make you defensive.  Just trying to understand.  The trigger for this thought was a criticism you make of the introduction of Dawn of the Dead, where the girl popped up where she shouldn't, and I was so pleased by the visuals and time jumps of that scene, that I didn't notice anything was wrong.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 29, 2016, 02:35:39 PM
Hmm. I should have said something more like 'mounting a defense' than 'feeling defensive.' I wasn't taking it personal, I just think that Hated is using a visual strategy, just one not as stylish as Dawn of the Dead. The girl popping up just looks silly, which takes me out of the experience, but there are a number of images in Snyder's Dawn which I think look silly.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 29, 2016, 02:38:25 PM
I'll have to look at it again and see the kind of strategy that Junior was talking about.  It just didn't stand out to me.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 29, 2016, 02:43:03 PM
I know everyone and their mom has made this comparison, but boy does this show remind me of The Twilight Zone. Accidentally started with series 3, but I'm guessing watching order doesn't matter for this series.

Nosedive

Social media taken to the point where every interaction is built around getting a rating. I like this idea because it gets to our unhealthy obsession with our presence on social media. How many likes, favorites, retweets and comments we get. And it creates this horrific artificiality where everyone projects this view of life being amazing and everything being pristine when so much of it isn't.

There have been tons of articles in the past few years talking about Facebook dysphoria and depression and I think that's a real thing. In such a controlled environment, you only see the best of people. It's all a fabrication and you create this false idea of what other people's lives are like which makes you dissatisfied with your own because you'll never be as fit, or as good a parent, or as good a photographer as one of your friends. But you don't see any of the shit. None of the screwups, none of the nights that end in tears, none of the fights, none of the hardships.

Putting Bryce Dallas Howard's character through this hellscape of horrible events envisions a world in which people are valued by the merits of the lie thy project, the social media presence, not the actual person. When she ends up getting rated down into oblivion and picked up by a gruff trucker, it's this rare moment of true humanity that bursts through all the bullshit.

Therefore, it's a shame that the final act is cringe-educing. You can see it coming from a mile away, but it's a hard watch. Here's a character so delusional that she'll so clearly pine for this dream moment that quickly falls apart. It's not necessarily bad, but it's a tough watch and I wonder if they couldn't have made it feel so on the nose at the end.

Playtest

Is it weird that this episode feels a lot more straightforward when it deals with virtual reality? I think for me it works better here because the high concept is a bit more easy to grasp. A roving traveler low on money opts into the next big VR experience with a horror game that adapts to your own worst fears.

It reminded me a bit of eXistenZ in how it's these layers of reality that slowly peel back until things just get downright CINECAST!ed up. It hits some good horror beats, and has a handful of solid twists along the way. The high-concept doesn't provide as much social commentary, but it's still a chilling, entertaining story to watch unfold.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on October 29, 2016, 03:01:38 PM
But you don't see any of the shit. None of the screwups, none of the nights that end in tears, none of the fights, none of the hardships.

Apparently I've been doing social media wrong. I put my failings and hardships front and center.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 29, 2016, 03:06:10 PM
I do that sometimes. Mostly when it's amusing.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: oldkid on October 29, 2016, 03:10:54 PM
I will mention my failures briefly, without detail.  Sometimes so vaguely that people think I'm talking about someone else.  But I don't want strangers to feel pity for me, to think I am seeking their support in any way.

Different people use social media differently.  And because of the algorithms, we see social media as acting differently.  I see it as a base of local social activism, but I know that most people don't experience that.  Many people describe it as a place to see people's dinners or small talk, and I never see that.  I occasionally see people's rants or whines or cries for help.  That's just a part of my social media experience, but I bet others don't see that.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: sdb_1970 on October 29, 2016, 03:48:15 PM
I'm two installments in (always behind in terms of cultural literacy) ... And I'm looking forward to consuming it slowly (especially with the attempted Filmspot noms)
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on October 29, 2016, 05:46:26 PM
Therefore, it's a shame that the final act is cringe-educing. You can see it coming from a mile away, but it's a hard watch. Here's a character so delusional that she'll so clearly pine for this dream moment that quickly falls apart. It's not necessarily bad, but it's a tough watch and I wonder if they couldn't have made it feel so on the nose at the end.
Perfectly described. There's a lot about the episode I like, and it comes up a lot as the best of the new series, but I'm not anxious to watch the episode again because I don't want to sit through that ending, which I don't even think is the best possible direction to go in.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 18, 2016, 12:10:43 PM
Shut Up and Dance

After two stellar episodes, this one feels so pedantic. An anonymous source begins blackmailing people into doing odd jobs. Each person has a reason to want to keep their dirty secrets hidden, even to the point of death. And the episode waits until the final act until it shows its hand, which there's no reason it couldn't have given that up at the beginning of the episode.

The most damning thing is that it lacks the interesting social critique of the previous episodes. They flung us into the near future and looked at the dark underbelly of our relationship with technology, this story lacks that. This could have taken place today and it never feels connected to society at large.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 18, 2016, 07:23:55 PM
San Junipero

This episode could shave about 10-15 minutes easily. There's too much focus on a love story that really doesn't have time to develop properly in an hour and it's not really the point of the episode. This show works best when the characters are vessels, much like The Twilight Zone. Here, the episode takes way too long to get to the high concept, but boy is it worth the wait.

I wrote this terrible script one time about people all living in a virtual reality and this episode captured a bit of the spirit I think I wanted but couldn't covey. VR is on the cusp of becoming creepily representative of reality. I consider myself tech savvy, but VR scares the heck out of me. What happens when we can just live in the machine?

The episode also conjures up ideas of heaven, the afterlife, time and mortality. And the end of the episode feels surprisingly optimistic given the dark ending of the other episodes but I feel like Charlie Brooker jabs at this world as kinda disturbing, especially the moment with the machine plugging in the "souls" of the inhabitants. And I feel like playing "Heaven is a Place on Earth" is ironic, not celebratory.

It's a shame the episode takes so long to get to that interesting idea. I would much rather have two thirds of the episode devoted to these ideas instead of spending a good chunk of the episode caught up in a romance that isn't what makes the episode thought-provoking and compelling.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 21, 2016, 07:21:56 PM
Man Against Fire

My favorite episode so far. For once, the extended runtime feels earned. There's the setup of the characters and world and then things turn sideways and the episode takes the time to delve into the blowout. I was invested in the character and the idea is fascinating. As we get closer and close to this kind of thing becoming a reality, we have to question how warfare is going to simultaneously evolve and devolve.

Malachi Kirby sells this episode. He pulls off the right amount of confused, tormented and convicted to make every emotional beat work. I saw the twist coming early on, but he sells the emotional weight of it perfectly. In the hands of a lesser actor, this episode would fall apart.

That's one area where I think Black Mirror has a bit of a leg up on The Twilight Zone. The production and performances are top notch where The Twilight Zone often drifted into camp. Where I think Black Mirror is lacking is in spreading itself too thin and the occasional writing fluke. This episode alleviates all of that and I hope going forward that this remains the case.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: slowpogo on November 22, 2016, 10:11:52 PM
San Junipero
This episode could shave about 10-15 minutes easily. There's too much focus on a love story that really doesn't have time to develop properly in an hour and it's not really the point of the episode. This show works best when the characters are vessels, much like The Twilight Zone. Here, the episode takes way too long to get to the high concept, but boy is it worth the wait.

It's a shame the episode takes so long to get to that interesting idea. I would much rather have two thirds of the episode devoted to these ideas instead of spending a good chunk of the episode caught up in a romance that isn't what makes the episode thought-provoking and compelling.

Maybe I misunderstand, but I feel like the technological ideas in Black Mirror are a means to explore human connections, whereas you seem to feel the opposite(?). From my perspective the romance is everything in an episode like this. Another example is the earlier episode The Entire History of You -- the technology is cool but the really interesting/disturbing part is the implications it has for human relationships.

I like that San Junipero took time to unfold the high concept, sprinkling clues along the way like the line "I hope your pain slider is set to zero." I think it could have actually used a few more minutes to flesh out Kelly's decision to stay in San Junipero when her body dies. That still worked but felt a little rushed. I guess I think if any episode merited a 90-minute run time it would be this one, way more than the last episode, which had its moments but was probably the weakest of season 3. I think San Junipero is probably my favorite of season 3...it felt very Ray Bradbury-ish and I thought the ending was more uplifting than negative.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 29, 2016, 10:06:18 AM
Hated in the Nation

BEEES!

(http://i.imgur.com/DqXazUs.gif)

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!

(http://i.imgur.com/thnaL29.gif)

Oh man, could I not take this episode seriously. And it's so dry and serious for such a goofy concept. This needed the tone of Playtest to pull it off, a good dose of camp to make this concept work. What we have here is almost The Happening levels of bad. It wants to be serious and menacing, but I just kept laughing at how dumb it was.

It also didn't help that I found Kelly Macdonald's performance unconvincing. Even Bryce Dallas Howard sold that awkward climatic scene in her episode. And I generally like Kelly Macdonald, so I'm sad she doesn't work here. I want to blame the tone or the writing, but I think a lot of it is a lackluster performance.


I think it's telling that the more serious this season tries to be, the less it tends works for me. Man Against Fire pulls it off, but the show's a lot more fun when you get stuff like Playtest and Nosedive that come across as a bit goofy and wry. Part of it might be that near-future setting that makes the fantastical element sometimes a bit too much to take. That's where The Twilight Zone works so much better as it often takes a leap away from reality into a fantastical realm. Black Mirror might be more culturally relevant, but the quality of this season is sourly lacking. Still, the show is interesting enough that I'm going to double back and watch the previous two seasons.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on November 29, 2016, 10:19:14 AM
For a brief moment it seemed Sam's taste had finally started to match up with my own. With Fantastic Beasts and now this, we've never been further apart.

Not even Kelly Macdonald. Wow!
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 29, 2016, 10:26:41 AM
I'm sure we'll find common ground again soon. Gonna try to watch the previous two seasons soon.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: StarCarly on November 29, 2016, 10:28:22 AM
I found this series right around Halloween and spent a couple days watching almost nothing else. Quickly became one of my favorite series.

Be Right Back
White Christmas
San Junipero
The Entire History of You
The National Anthem
Shut Up and Dance
Fifteen Million Merits
Nosedive
Playtest
The Waldo Moment
Men Against Fire
White Bear


I need to try to finish Hated in the Nation again, I was so bored!
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on November 29, 2016, 10:34:55 AM
I was looking for a consensus of what were the best and worst of the new season and it seems there isn't one, though everyone I've skimmed is calling the show amazing.

According to USA Today:
6. 'Shut Up and Dance'
5. 'Men Against Fire'
4. 'Playtest'
3. 'Nosedive'
2. 'Hated in the Nation'
1. 'San Junipero'

According to The Independent:
6. 'Men Against Fire'
5. 'San Junipero'
4. 'Playtest'
3. 'Hated in the Nation'
2. 'Nosedive'
1.  'Shut Up and Dance'

According to Variety:
6. Hated in the Nation
5. Shut Up and Dance
4. Nosedive
3. San Junipero
2. Playtest
1. Men Against Fire

That difference is reflected by our group too.

I think the next 6 episodes premiere in Jan. 2017.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: StarCarly on November 29, 2016, 10:37:31 AM


That difference is reflected by our group too.

I think the next 6 episodes premiere in Jan. 2017.

I was just noticing that too, no consensus whatsoever. Cool!
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on January 03, 2017, 01:02:50 PM
Three episodes in to the new season. I didn't like Nosedive all that much, but Playtest and Shut Up and Dance, the two episodes Brooker actually wrote, have been great.

EDIT: Playtest was good, not great.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on December 30, 2017, 11:05:57 PM
Season 4

USS Callister
What a way to start. This is the series at its best, attacking hostile nerd culture entitlement this time with the series typical cutting humor and clever storytelling. A great cast, featuring a fearsome no B.S. performance by Cristin Milioti, Jesse Plemons ability to transform into the type of person the story needs him to be at any moment and Jimmi Simpson, who is always a delight. One of the best endings for a Black Mirror ep, which is saying a lot.

Arkangel
The final moments and closing credits song made me think this was going for something else. The relationship between mother and daughter doesn't connect because the script spends more time interacting with the technology and not enough dealing with the human consequences. This was the first in a sad trend this season, being able to easily guess where and how the tech is going to go wrong.

Crocodile
If you didn't like the darkness of last season's "Shut Up and Dance", you might want to skip this one. At least Dance packed a punch with its final scenes. This one, I kept waiting for a surprise and instead I was unsurprised when a sociopathic solution presented itself and it went there. This could've really used a twist.

Hang the DJ
I don't want to say too much on this one because its those final minutes that really put it over the top while a good deal of the middle I thought was setting up something darker. If you liked San Junipero, this is another look at the danger of turning over our dating instincts to new technology.

Metalhead
I'm not sure what the point of this was. I mean, I get the point of the final scene, but the rest of the episode is a low tech version of The Terminator. The shortest episode, but so lacking in content it felt the longest.

Black Museum
Curious structure. A crime museum where the owner tells stories of tech gone wrong. The first two-thirds could stand as their own episodes if the show ever went to 30 minutes. Only in the final tale does it lead somewhere, but again as soon as that one began and I know exactly how it was going to end.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Bondo on January 01, 2018, 03:22:52 AM
USS Callister: My new favorite episode. It is just so precisely written, wasting nary a moment. Perhaps lets the CEO off too easy as a sympathetic figure given his pretty overt sexual harassment in the real world. But as a dismantling of a certain nice guy nerd whose undercurrent of rage and impotent frustration leads to violent fantasy that is battled within that realm to prevent it from exploding into the real world as often it does. Though the way they draw up the game versions makes the stakes seem completely and totally real. It is the overwhelming theme this season...the morality duties to digital sentients.

Hang The DJ: My fear in watching this dating system at work is I'd be the one for whom it just never assigns matches. I do like the twist. Ultimately this succeeds on the chemistry of the characters but also in ways it adapts real dating concerns into the nature of this system. We do probably think too much about how long a given relationship is going to last and set arbitrary goals, either short or long, rather than just letting it unfold to the proper length and no further.

Black Museum: This is a peculiar beast and in some ways feels like the final episode we'll get as it retroactively creates a shell for the entire series. But that is only half of the episode. The other half is a pair of sub-stories that, while tying into the broad theme of transferred or digital consciousness, also have distinct transgender implications. In one a device allows a doctor to feel the physical sensations of his patients for diagnosis, and those romantic sensations of his wife. This is basically a perfect piece of tech for my peculiar orientation. The second episode transfers a comatose wife's consciousness inside her husband's head. Admittedly it takes it in a more domestic tension direction, but having this female voice in his head could easily have been taken in a more gender study direction. It is a messy episode but intrigued me.

Arkangel: Capable exploration of parental supervision in a tech landscape. But nothing really stands out stylistically, and it pretty much goes the places you expect.

Crocodile: If Arkangel was predictable in how it implemented its tech, Crocodile seems a little confused and just makes for a muddy presentation of the concept.

Metalhead: I needed more worldbuilding to set up the context we find the characters in. I don't know what they are fighting for which lessens the stakes and makes it feel like an exercise in brutality. This season truly was the best of times and the worst of time.

Updated ranking:

USS Callister
Hated In The Nation
Fifteen Million Merits
San Junipero
Hang the DJ
White Christmas
Shut Up And Dance
Be Right Back
The Entire History Of You
Black Museum
Playtest
Arkangel
Nosedive
The National Anthem
Men Against Fire
Crocodile
White Bear
The Waldo Moment
Metalhead
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on January 01, 2018, 09:10:22 AM
Black Museum:
It is a messy episode but intrigued me.
Well said. I have to watch White Christmas again because in my mind the stories go down the same path, which I have to think is deliberate given the titles of the episodes.


This season truly was the best of times and the worst of time.
Also true. The bad episodes haven't put me off on the series because the good episodes are so great.

I mentioned with Season 3 how everyone has radically different lists of best and worst Black Mirror episodes, but this Season there seems to be agreement on the two great ones and three not good ones with Black Museum in between.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: sdb_1970 on January 02, 2018, 08:56:07 AM
I mentioned with Season 3 how everyone has radically different lists of best and worst Black Mirror episodes, but this Season there seems to be agreement on the two great ones and three not good ones with Black Museum in between.

As was the case with TZ, the touchier, feelier episodes generally donít do it for me.  Also, Season 4 was a bit of a disappointment.

Fifteen Million Merits
USS Callister
The Entire History of You
Be Right Back
White Bear
Shut Up and Dance
Nosedive
The National Anthem
White Christmas
Black Museum
Playtest
Metalhead
The Waldo Moment
Arkangel
Crocodile
Hated in the Nation
Men Against Fire
Hang the DJ
San Junipero
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Solid Blake on January 03, 2018, 02:00:51 PM
Of course John Hillcoat would direct the most depressing episode of the most depressing series Iíve ever seen. I feel... I donít think.. yep.. I canít feel anything anymore.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Junior on January 03, 2018, 10:59:30 PM
Of course John Hillcoat would direct the most depressing episode of the most depressing series Iíve ever seen. I feel... I donít think.. yep.. I canít feel anything anymore.

Yeah, the credit at the end was both surprising and not at all shocking.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: jswysin on January 04, 2018, 01:32:27 PM
Fifteen Million Merits
USS Callister
The Entire History of You

Monkey loves you!

Hang the DJ
San Junipero


Monkey needs a hug!


Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: sdb_1970 on January 04, 2018, 09:09:53 PM
Fifteen Million Merits
USS Callister
The Entire History of You

Monkey loves you!

Hang the DJ
San Junipero


😬

Monkey needs a hug!
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 05, 2018, 12:44:22 PM
Is there a consensus about Season 4? Everyone I know has been disappointed so far. I am only two eps in and they were meh.

Of course John Hillcoat would direct the most depressing episode of the most depressing series Iíve ever seen. I feel... I donít think.. yep.. I canít feel anything anymore.

Yeah, the credit at the end was both surprising and not at all shocking.

I don't know who the guy is, but I didn't find the episode all that depressing, just unremarkable.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: 1SO on January 05, 2018, 01:16:07 PM
Is there a consensus about Season 4? Everyone I know has been disappointed so far. I am only two eps in and they were meh.

...this Season there seems to be agreement on the two great ones and three not good ones with Black Museum in between.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on January 10, 2018, 07:37:26 PM
I did watch USS Calister, which was pretty good. Reminds me that I never went back and watch the first two seasons of Black Mirror. Will 2018 be the year I finally watch all of Black Mirror? (Spoilers: Probably not.)
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Alan Smithee on January 10, 2018, 08:49:07 PM
I did watch USS Calister, which was pretty good. Reminds me that I never went back and watch the first two seasons of Black Mirror. Will 2018 be the year I finally watch all of Black Mirror? (Spoilers: Probably not.)

Lol, you started out with the worst season.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 12, 2018, 03:04:21 AM
Season 4 so far:

Hang the DJ
USS Callister
Metalhead
Crocodile


With all the negative comments about this season I wonder if I should bother with the last two at all.

Also, some questions about the episodes:

Can someone explain the title Crocodile to me?
How can the app in DJ simulate personality so well?
There are like four episodes of BM that I have now seen that use the same little button to connect one's brain to some software. Is that a deliberate choice on their part?
USS Callister is fine, but memory from DNA, just, ugh...
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: goodguy on January 12, 2018, 01:52:24 PM
Can someone explain the title Crocodile to me?
... Tears?

Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Solid Blake on January 12, 2018, 02:06:39 PM
USS Callister
Hang the DJ
Crocodile
Black Museum
Metalhead
Arkangel


Some good highs, not so many lows this season. Solid, but nothing extraordinary.
Title: Re: Black Mirror
Post by: Solid Blake on January 25, 2018, 07:56:21 PM
Finally caught up on older episodes that I havenít gotten around to. Hereís my list of all the episodes from Great to Not-So-Great (I donít consider any episode to be particularly bad).

San Junipero
The Entire History of You
USS Callister
Playtest
Be Right Back
White Christmas
Hang The DJ
Hated in the Nation
White Bear
The National Anthem
Black Museum
Crocodile
Metalhead
Shut Up And Dance
Nosedive
Fifteen Million Merits
The Waldo Moment
Arkangel
Men Against Fire