Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Kaluuya’

TV Review: Black Mirror Season 1

Posted: November 10, 2017 in Drama, TV
Tags: ,

black mirror

Episode 1:  The National Anthem

British Prime Minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) is faced with the kidnapping of Princess Susannah, (Lydia Wilson) the video cannot be traced, neither can the man or group responsible for the kidnapping.  The kidnapper has an audacious demand?  Does the Prime Minister comply?

The kidnapper’s demand seems like a joke, so it’s hard to take the premise seriously, so right away this episode gets off on the wrong foot, and it never regains its footing.  Doesn’t the royal family have the guards at Buckingham Palace?  What were they doing, sleeping?  This episode does say something about the British, it tells anyone who watches it how much the British love the Royal Family.  It also makes some trite, overbaked comments about the power of “social media” that no one needs to hear again. The ending was almost an afterthought, so this episode doesn’t rate very highly with me.  Not a good way to start a Twilight Zone type series.

Episode 2: 15 Million Merits

Bing (Daniel Kaluuya) lives in a society where everyone has to pedal an exercycle to power the electrical needs of society at large.  Every time Bing peddles, he earns credits, called merits, which he can use to buy things, like tchotchkes for his avatar, or pornographic videos.  The big prize is a ticket to Hot Shot, a talent show, broadcast nationwide.  That ticket costs a cool 15 million merits.  One day, while in the bathroom he hears a girl named Abi (Jessica Brown Findlay) singing a song.  Bing thinks Abi has a beautiful voice, and buys her a ticket to Hot Shots.

What happens to Abi at Hot Shots?  How does Bing react?

Bicycles and reality show television.  The future is bleak indeed.  I’m the first to slam show like American Idol, it has pretty much decimated rock music, but once again this show takes the things that annoy people about today’s culture, endless talents shows, avatars, and anonymous rating pf people, and makes it extreme, to the point that nothing rings true, and the situation becomes an absurdist one.  The romance between Bing and Abi seems rushed and insincere.  Daniel Kaluuya, who was great in Get Out, seems uninteresting and uninterested in this role.  Kaluuya is great in Get Out, not so much here.

Episode 3:  The Entire History of You

Liam (Toby Kebbell) lives in a society where all memories can be recalled through a microchip implanted near the ear.  Liam flies in to join a party thrown by his wife Fi. (Jodie Whittaker)  Fi is paying particular attention to an ex-flame named Jonas, (Tom Cullen) and it bothers Liam, so he asks her how long she was involved with him, and she says that it was only a week.  But Liam persists and finds out that they were involved for more than 6 months.

Incensed, he goes to see Jonas and asks him to erase all his memories of Fi, or he will remove Jonas’ microchip forcefully.  Faced with the threat of physical harm, Jonas complies.  Then Liam confronts Fi about the paternity of their son.  How does Fi respond?  What is the truth?

This is probably the best of the three episodes in season one, because it deals with a real issue in a futuristic context.  The issue of infidelity has been a problem, and will be a problem in the future.  But would people really want to prove infidelity by digging into your spouse’s memories?  That’s the more interesting question.  The story is one sided, however, because the viewer never sees Liam’s past relationships, so there is a bit of a double standard there.  Also the story reminds me a bit of Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. In that movie Jim Carrey wanted to forget a bad relationship, in this episode, Toby Kebbell wants to use memories to find the truth about his marriage.  The story drags a bit, but good acting from Kebbell and Cullen keep things interesting.

Overall, season one was not very good, the storylines were weak, the first story was especially difficult to take seriously.  The second was equally hard to believe, for different reasons.  Both stories tried to talk about the evils of social networking, to little avail.  Only the third episode resonates, because it deals with  a serious issue that any married couple fears.

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get out

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is a black man dating a well-to-do white woman, Rose Armitage. (Allison Williams) This fact alone in post-Obama America shouldn’t be troublesome, but Chris is going to meet Rose’s parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) a neurisurgeon and Missy (Catherine Keener) a psychologist  for the first time, so naturally, they are both a bit nervous about meeting her parents.  On their way to her parents’ house in the country a policeman pulls the two over, heightening the tension, but he lets them with a warning, thanks to Rose.  Chris meets Dean and Missy, the act somewhat oddly. Chris thinks they may be overcompensating for being “Obama liberals” but he undoubtedly gets a strange vibe from Rose’s brother, Jeremy, (Caleb Landry Jones) who  is always talking about Mixed Martial Arts, and Chris needing to bulk up. Chris also gets an uneasy feeling about the black people hired to help around the Armitage household.  But maybe living in the country has made them more laid back than the people he’s used to meeting. After talking to Chris on the phone, his friend Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howry) has a vastly different take on the situation.  His advice to Chris:  Get Out!

Get Out is not a horror movie per se, it’s more a psychological thriller.  Get Out is a thought-provoking movie that plays with the viewers’ minds.  Do Rose’s parents resent Chris for dating their daughter, despite their liberal leanings?  Does Chris feel guilty for dating outside his race?  Chris is also dealing with some baggage of his own that the viewer finds out about during the movie, and Rose has a secret that is also revealed.  Things are revealed gradually like pieces to a big puzzle, but when the puzzle comes together, it is a treat.  I could tell you what movies Get Out reminds me of, but that would give too much away.  It’s not easy to combine elements of suspense with social commentary and comedy, but Get Out does it all, pretty flawlessly.  If you haven’t seen this movie, you should see it.

The acting is great.  Daniel Kaluuya plays a normal guy in increasingly abnormal situations.  If this was a comedy, he would be the straight man. He notices some things that are off-putting, but he doesn’t really think anything is wrong, he’s still got a great girlfriend, if nothing else so he stays in the house.  Allison Williams plays his loving sometimes protective girlfriend, She will protect him during his stay if things get weird, won’t she?  Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are superb as typical upper class parents, the kind of parents any kid would be lucky to have, or would you?  The comedy relief is refreshingly provided by Lil Rel Howry, let’s just say he is the canary in the coal mine, and he is hilarious.

The direction by Jordan Peele, who also produced and wrote the film is pretty standard horror movie visual direction, closeups on the protagonist’s face, close-ups on the back of his head, while he is  walking down the stairs.  The protagonist is sometimes shot in the foreground, while unexplained things go on in the background.  It all sets a mood, which is not so much scary as it is creepy.  The pacing is excellent, it doesn’t get bogged down on any one point, and he gets excellent performances from a talented cast.  I just wish this movie had come out before Keanu, which was about as funny as a migraine.  This movie displays Jordan Peele’s true range of talents.

Get Out.  Outstanding.