SPOILER ALERT! This is an episode where you can’t dive too deep without giving away spoilers so if you haven’t seen it, you should join the rest of the web surfing public and not read this blog.
OK, now that the people who have seen it or don’t care about spoilers are present, let’s discuss.
The first half of this episode seems like a simple friendship story. Two young women, Yorky and Kelly, meet in a seaside tourist town, San Junipero, in the 1980s. Their friendship grows into love, i.e. the romantic variety but sours as Kelly avoids commitment.
SPOILER – by the second half, we realize San Junipero is a simulation. Everyone is either dead or dying in real life. The dying get a free, limited trial to see if an afterlife in the sim is what they want, while the dead have already signed on.
Ultimately, the love story becomes a will they or won’t they as they meet again and again during their free trials. They want to and yet their are issues in their real lives that hold them back.
The main takeaways. It would be great if some kind of simulation like this would be invented. Though as we see, it doesn’t take away from all of life’s problems, but it could give us that piece of mind we need to know that life doesn’t end at death and all our learning, struggling, working, growing…all that experience isn’t lost when we go.
Perhaps the most realistic thought is to enjoy youth while you have it and try your best to extend it. Eat your veggies. Exercise. Stay off the bad food and alcohol and cigarettes because when the body goes, it goes. The contrast between the real life oldsters and their simulated young bodies is something else, and it truly is sad what time does to the human body.
The good news? If you don’t dwell on all the complications, this episode has a rare happy ending for Black Mirror.
The bad news? If you’re like me, this episode will make you feel super old. I was a boy in the 1980s, a teenager in the 1990s, and a young adult in the 2000s and apparently, each time period are now considered as nostalgic places for the elderly and dying to visit in simulated space.
Spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen it, look away. It’s ok, I have a total of 3.5 readers so I can lose up to 2.5 and still have a full reader. It’s just hard to talk about this episode without delving into spoilers.
Death has become a hashtag. Whenever the Internet folk post a name along with the hashtag #deathto they are voting for that person to be killed under mysterious circumstances, with the name that receives the most votes becoming the victim of the day.
Two days and two victims – a journalist who wrote a scathing, unkind op ed about a handicapped rights’ advocate and a rapper who mocked a young fan’s tribute dance to him, dashing the kid’s dreams on live television.
Detective Karin Parke (of Boardwalk Empire fame) has seen it all and is breaking in her young partner, Blue Coulson (Faye Marsay). Along the way, they team up with British government agent Shaun Li (Benedict Wong of Doctor Strange fame.)
At first, the episode is a slow burn and feels a bit like an episode of Law and Order set in England. As we learn the killer’s method, it picks up the pace.
Spoiler – robot bees! Yes, it’s the future and robot bees have replaced the usual kind, apparently due to a lack of hot and steamy bee on bee intercourse. An entire company has emerged to produce robot bees, setting them to work on the UK’s pollination needs, each robo-bee buzzing from one flower to the next, deliver the special yellow dust along the way.
SIDENOTE: Listen people. We need to save the bees to save the plants and save the world. If you know any bees, please encourage them to engage in a lot of indiscriminate bee on bee fornication to prevent a nightmare world where robo-bees take over.
Like Alfred Hitchcock’s birds, Black Mirror’s robot bees take on a life of their own, buzzing and stalking the prey programmed into their little bee minds by the killer. Many harrowing scenes of people narrowly escaping bee attacks ensue.
Overall, the robo bee concept is interesting and sadly, may be needed one day if all these male bees can’t build up their confidence and start hitting on all these lady bees. Wait, there’s just one Queen Bee right? All the male bees go to work and then return to the hive to service the Queen Bee’s needs? Yikes.
Also, it’s a meditation on when Internet anger goes too far. People are stupid. They do dumb things. They say dumb things. Much of this stupidity went unnoticed back in the day but now that the Internet preserves everything, people often engage in a social media pile on, spewing all kinds of vitriol toward someone who they believe has crossed a line. Sadly, this leaves no room for a person to apologize and seek redemption.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, mostly because of the bees. I do remember enjoying Boardwalk Empire back in the day and thought it was cool to see Nucky’s GF in the present day.
I’m not sure why I wasn’t impressed with this, other than because I did Netflix’s Interactive Kimmy Schmidt episode long before trying this one. Had I tried this first I might have been impressed with the overall ambition of this project. This is Netflix’s first “choose your own adventure style” film after all.
The year is 1984 and young computer programmer Stefan has snagged his dream gig, developing a video game based on the novel “Bandersnatch” by an author who went insane and murdered his wife. OK, so the developing the video game is the good part of that gig and the other part, obviously not so much.
With your controller in hand, you guide Stefan through a series of choices, ultimately sending him down a rabbit hole of conspiracy fact and fiction, questioning whether concepts like time and reality even exist as the young lad gets driven further and further into madness.
The story relies on some meta snark in that like a choose your own adventure novel, one where you can just flip back to the beginning if you screw up, it too can flip you back, sometimes to the last choice, sometimes to the start and the underlying answer as to how Stefan can wake up and get a do over is that time is not as real a concept as we think it is.
If you’re looking for overall answers to the plot’s questions, you’ll be disappointed, unless you want to do it all over and over again and maybe there’s a good ending. I never found one. I know Black Mirror is dark so an unhappy ending is to be expected but I thought I’d get an ending that at least tries to explain how all this nonsense is possible. You get various answers at various times and none seem to jive with each other.
So…it’s ok. Maybe something to do when you aren’t busy and if it went over my head, then so be it. I came, I saw, I tried and I felt it was a lot of build up that just doesn’t go anywhere no matter how hard you try unless there’s a special combo of moves I missed.
SIDENOTE: The option where you can choose to explain to Stefan that you are a person from the future controlling his moves through Netflix is funny, particularly when you choose the option to try to explain to a 1980’s person what Netflix is.
BQB here with another review of this creepy tech anthology series.
Black Museum contains three vignettes, each warning of the dangers of futuristic medical technology. IMO, each one could have been a stand alone episode but I can see why they boxed them together.
Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge) was once a cutting edge (perhaps too cutting) inventor of medical technology. Forced out of the biz for going too far, he now owns a roadside “Black Museum” which features artifacts used in all sorts of high profile crimes. Fans of the episode will note Easter eggs i.e. items used by baddies in previous Black Mirror episodes.
Ironically, some of Rolo’s inventions are now on display, for his tech has been declared illegal, though he was able to skirt any liability in the nick of time.
Nish (Letitia Wright of Black Panther fame) stops to charge her car after a long drive one day, only to visit the museum as a distraction.
Rolo, having not seen a customer in some time, is happy to give her the grand tour and share his stories, which include a) an implant that a doctor used to feel the pain of his patients. At first, he becomes adept at diagnosing and curing his charges but over time, he develops a crazed addiction to pain (he feels it but does not suffer the physical effects) that can’t be satiated.
Story B is about a couple who live a happy life until the wife is struck by a car and left in a coma. Rolo offers up another invention, this one allowing wife’s brain to be downloaded into husband’s brain. At first, when husband is able to communicate with wife again, the reunion brings great joy. However, over time, the wife inside husband’s head becomes an unrelenting backseat driver, nag nag nagging all the time.
Story C is about a death row inmate who signed a deal with Rolo for his digital persona to be brought to life in his museum as a hologram, giving tourists the “joy” of flipping a switch that zaps said convict over and over again.
Is there any correlation to these stories? You have to watch to find out. Without giving too much away, I will say story B does have a bit of a biting commentary about how we tend to throw away loved ones once they get too be too much work.
Memories, like the corners of my mind…is that how the song goes? Paging Streisand.
BQB here with yet another Black Mirror review.
Many years ago, Mia’s then boyfriend Rob did a horrible thing. Rather than go to the police, she assisted him in covering it up, making her an accomplice.
The years pass and Mia marries another man, has a child, a nice house and a great career, having managed to push the memories of that dark day to the corners of her mind. Alas, it all comes back when a guilt ridden Rob shows up at her door, telling Mia he won’t be able to live with himself unless he pens an anonymous confession.
And so, the vicious cycle of cover ups upon cover ups ensues as Mia does something terrible to cover up the cover up. As she is doing so, she witnesses a self-driving pizza truck hit a pedestrian (SIDENOTE: self driving pizza trucks sound like a good idea but only if a) they can be made to not hit people and b) if we can find alternate employment routes for the pizza delivery man and woman lobby)
Insurance investigator Shazia thinks the victim (he lives) of the pizza truck’s case is pretty cut and dry, but goes about her investigation with the assistance of a device that can record memories. She interviews various witnesses, recording the images they have in their minds of the accident, eventually realizing that Mia, according to witness recollection, had the best view of the incident.
Thus opens the proverbial can of worms for Mia. If she declines Shazia’s request to search her memories of the accident, the police will get involved. But if she helps, will she be able to bury her memories of evil doing and so that the machine will pick up only the memories of the pizza truck accident?
Overall, an interesting meditation on the power of memory, what we remember and what we forget and how there can be power in forgetting. When it comes to memory, can we ever be sure they are real?
The plot of this seems like it should belong to a wacky, raunchy comedy but its played as a serious drama.
Princess Susannah, a much beloved member of the royal family, has been kidnapped. The kidnapper has but a single demand – that at 4 pm, the UK Prime Minister get on live television and have sex with…a pig.
Yeah, I know. At this point, you might think the entire writing staff should be fired but maybe not when you realize the whole episode is a commentary about a) the population’s inability to ignore trainwreck-esque spectacles and b) the control that social media has over political decision making.
At first, the UK is united in thinking that the PM should absolutely not do this. It would be too demeaning to himself, the office, the nation and if he does it, terrorists will be kidnapping prominent people every day just to make outrageous demands. Though Princess Susannah’s death would be terrible, it would be worse to cave in to this outrageous demand.
But as the day wears on and the government’s multiple attempts to rescue the princess are botched, the kidnapper retaliates by mailing the press the princess’ finger. Public emotions are stirred and they believe the government is now at fault for the princess’ predicament and as such, the PM should rescue her…by having intimate knowledge of that pig.
And so, the PM must make a decision.
Ultimately, this episode is so ridiculous and yet you can’t look away, wondering what the PM will finally do. It is all very absurd and hard to believe that the leader of any nation would actually consider whether or not to do this. It’s also hard to believe that the people of any nation would actually demand that their leader do this and yet…check out social media sometime and see the weird kinds of mental gymnastics people play when they want to take a position that is wrong or support a politician who has done something wrong or what have you.
In short, I can’t one hundred percent say that if this scenario played out in real life, there wouldn’t be dum dums on social media demanding that the prime minister follow through. Even worse, there would be government officials who actually listen to the dum dums.
So, after many years, I finally hopped down the rabbit hole of Black Mirror this week. I always wanted to but never got around to it. What with Covid making new movie releases a thing of the past, I’ve been starved for new content so I gave this a go and am glad I did.
If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s a modern day Twilight Zone but with a focus on the ills of technology. Each episode focuses on a piece of tech that was meant to improve life only to ruin it in new and crazy ways.
In this post, I’m reviewing the most recent episode, Striking Vipers. Anthony Mackie and Yahya Abdul-Madeen II play a couple old college roommates Danny and Karl who in their young glory days, used to stay up all night chasing babes, only to head back to their crib and play the “Street Fighter-esque” video game Striking Vipers until the wee hours of the morning.
Flash forward to middle age and Danny and Karl are reaping the rewards of life’s struggles, as well as the punishments. Both are financially successful and have nice homes, secure in their jobs, no longer worried about climbing the ladder and no longer worrying about making rent.
Danny is married and has a son while Karl is recently divorced. Danny openly states he’s happy to be off the market rather than going through the rat race of the dating scene, constantly trying to impress women who would reject him over the slightest detail.
Meanwhile, Karl is recently divorced and hopes his new found single status, combined with the financial success he lacked in youth, will allow him to chase a plethora of younger hotties.
Everything changes when the dudes reconnect thanks to the latest VR version of Striking Vipers. The bros begin hanging out online late at night, enjoying their bouts of virtual fisticuffs…that is until they realize that it is possible for them to make their characters hump and they actually feel the humping.
Suddenly, their worlds are turned upside down. Yes, there are benefits to middle age that come with putting in the years but that time puts a beating on the body and the soul. These dudes are still men. In their hearts, they still want to go out to the club and pick up new booty, but Danny loves his wife too much and wouldn’t dare wreck his idyllic suburban life…even though the sex is ho hum.
And though Karl thought he’d become a late in life ladies’ man, he finds that the younger women just want his money and don’t understand his jokes and/or pop cultural references. Even worse, he can’t keep up in the boudoir.
Ergo, a game that provides safe, wild and crazy red hot sex with the assistance of a trusted friend who will be cool and not demand any strings to be attached sounds like the solution to their problems.
Ah, but the questions about. Does this mean they are gay? One of the characters is a woman, but is the dude gay for being a woman in the game? Is the other dude gay for banging a woman played by a dude? Will this affect their relationships i.e. if they are constantly banging each other in the video game world, will they have any stamina left for their real life partners? And holy crap, what if this means they are in love? Like not best buddy dude bro love but romantic love? Is it possible to have a virtual friends with benefits situation without love attaching?
These are the bizarre questions that Black Mirror asks. Sometimes they are answered and sometimes not but I think overall, this episode does a good job of summarizing the joys and pitfalls that come with various stages of life. In youth, you are full of energy but low on knowledge and money. In middle age you are higher on money but and knowledge but lack the energy to do anything about it. An ironic nightmare, really.
This movie is that big piece of candy you reach for. You know you should be going for the meat and potatoes or better yet, a healthy tofu platter but damn it, it tastes good going down, even though you know it’s going to leave you with a tummy ache in a half hour, wondering why the hell you bothered with it in the first place.
BQB here with a review of a movie that’s found new life in the Netflix charts as of late, “Knock Knock.”
Going into this movie, you know it’s a horror film of sorts. It’s directed by Eli Roth, who has given us strange and bizarre horror films filled with exploitative sex and gore. The sex is here big time while the gore is not but Roth replaces the gore with weird mind games.
Keanu Reeves plays Evan, a middle aged family man who stays at home one fateful weekend while his beautiful wife and family go on a beach trip. All alone and swamped with work, Evan answers the door to find two scantily clad young women claiming to be lost in the rain. Would he mind letting them in to dry off and get their bearings and find out what to do?
Now here’s where I differ from most men put into this situation. As my 3.5 readers know, I am incredibly ugly and hideous, such that I make Gollum look like Matthew McConaughey by comparison. Thus, if a random hot, scantily clad woman comes on to me, I know fraudulence is afoot. There’s no possibly way she could be warm for my form because my form is blobular due to a life long crippling pizza addiction. Ergo, if a woman comes onto me, I know she’s trying to murder me or set me up for blackmail or going to rob me or what have you so in such a situation I would see through the ruse and slam the door in the faces of the women immediately.
Frankly, I’m so jaded that I’ll never trust a woman who doesn’t empty the contents of no less than three cans of mace into my face upon meeting me, but enough about me. Back to the review.
Keanu is handsome and his character is rich, so I guess I can see how he would figure these babes are legit into him. Even so, one might think he’d be intelligent enough to think that things that are too good to be true, i.e. two hotties showing up out of nowhere ready to party constitute a gift horse whose mouth should be thoroughly examined.
The first half of the film leaves us wondering what are these women going to do, because you know it is something. Are they going to murder him? Rob him? Blackmail him? Something else?
The second half of the film leaves us wondering why the women are doing what they are doing to Evan. Has he wronged them in some way that has yet to be revealed? Is he a horrible person who deserves it and there’s just some clue we have yet to see? What is the purpose of all this mayhem?
SPOILER ALERT: There’s a lot of build up for very little payoff. After Evan caves into temptation, the women (Lorenza Izzo as Genesis and Ana de Armas as Bel) put Keanu through a series of tortures, each creepier than the next. I hate to say it but some of them are even humorous, though I don’t think they were intended to be. There’s something about watching veteran actor Keanu buried up to his head in dirt while the women taunt him that makes me wonder if we weren’t better off in the Golden Age of Hollywood when 50 something actors would gracefully retire, only to maybe return once in awhile to play a kindly grandpa, whereas today dudes like Keanu rub some shoe polish in their hair so they can be chased around by psycho babes on camera well into their golden years. I don’t know. At any rate, Evan is subjected to all manner of punishments, though an explanation as to how or why these women decided to go around, offering their goodies to married men only to punish them if they partake is never fully explained.
Is there a moral to this story? Men are, by nature, animals, as are all creatures. In our cavemen days, men claimed any woman they wanted as long as they were strong enough to carry them back to the cave and I doubt that was a situation that ever worked out well for the woman.
The years passed and man became domesticated, realizing that the best goal in life is to win the heart of a woman, to marry and form a partnership, create a stable home, family etc.
In theory, men often torture themselves. If I’d waited, would I have been able to find more women? Could I have become rich and successful and attracted a vast array of hotties if I hadn’t tied myself down to the old ball and chain?
Probably not. And the irony is, it was hard, at least for me, to not feel sorry for Evan. Here is a dedicated family man, husband and father who brings home the bacon and at the start of the film, enjoys an idyllic life. He does not appear to be the kind of man who cheats and it is doubtful he would ever go out looking for another woman, i.e. he isn’t patrolling the bars late at night or anything. Left to his own devices he would never stray, but put two random naked beauties in front of him and his animal instincts kick in.
In such a scenario, does he deserve to be punished? Isn’t this entrapment? Or is that the moral of the story? Perhaps it wouldn’t happen in this way. Perhaps two too good to be true babes will never show up at your door. However, temptation is everywhere (again, if you’re Keanu) so…I don’t know. A flirtation with a waitress. An emotional affair with a coworker. You get tempted one time, you stray just one time and that’s all it takes to ruin your idyllic married life. And would those women punish you as in bury you in your head in dirt and try to kill you? No, but you know, they might take your money or ruin your reputation or leave you divorced and penniless and at that point, you might wish they had buried you alive and put you out of your misery.
Again, this would never happen to me as I don’t trust any woman who doesn’t instantly pepper spray me. You’re a woman and you want my trust? Pepper spray me directly in the eyeballs. Then I will know you are a woman of good moral fiber.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It is a terrible movie and yet like a flaming dumpster fire full of poo, it is hard to not look away. I’m not sure why Keanu did this movie as it seems beneath him other than I guess he got a paycheck and got to hang out with naked babes though I doubt he needs Hollywood’s help in the money and babe departments at this stage of his life so, who knows.
BQB here with a review of this Netflix horror/comedy.
This movie was a fun, silly surprise, reminding me of all those 1980s horror films of yesteryear where plucky kids would band together to fight monsters because their out of touch, unable to believe in the unbelievable parents won’t lift a finger. Though it takes place in modern times, it feels inspired by The Goonies, the Monster Squad or what have you.
Here, the vamps come in the form of a real estate company, buying up every house and store in the Bronx and replacing them with trendy, foofoo chic crap – i.e. condos, artisan butter stores and so on. To comic effect, one bodega owner tries to get in on the action, attempting to peddle kale and oat milk to the influx of wealthy yuppies.
Enter heroes Miguel, Luis and Bobby who discover that this real estate scheme is just a front for the vamps to hide their coffins under the neighborhood’s collective nose, so the bloodsuckers can feast on the locals. They might do something to stop it if Miguel’s mother will ever stop yelling at him out the window about how he needs to change his underwear while he’s trying to chat up some girls.
Humor and shenanigans ensue as the kids go on a quest to bring the vamps down, while inept adults occasionally help or hinder their progress.
And yes, I suppose the overall point of the movie is to compare white purchasing and “gentrification” of minority neighborhoods to vampirism but I’ll let you 3.5 readers get into the politics of it all.
Well, I suppose I had to watch it sooner or later.
BQB with a review of Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix movie, “Hubie Halloween.”
I wish I could remember who said this so I could give them credit, and I’m going to be paraphrasing here, but I remember one time a reviewer likened Adam Sandler to a drug dealer in that both provide products that the public consumes and yet both never stop to think if they should. Ouch.
However, as Sandler movies go, this isn’t his worst, and if you’re looking for a film that will put you in the Halloween spirit without being too scary, this will work.
Sandler returns to his Waterboyish demeanor as Hubie Dubois, the constantly dumped on and made fun of town doofus in Salem, MA, which you history buffs may recall was the home of the Salem Witch trials in the 1600s and thus has been the locale of many a Halloween based movie.
Hubie is a man child, having never really grown up. He works in a deli and in his free time, he holds himself out as a self-appointed town volunteer, involving himself in this or that cause on the auspices of being a good citizen but ultimately, you the viewer quickly realize that this guy is so awkward and lonely that he basically volunteers for a reason just to come into contact with people.
His favorite time of year is Halloween and as the town’s self-appointed “Halloween monitor” he spends his days in October snitching on kids who are purchasing absurd amounts of eggs and toilet paper, lecturing school kids on Halloween safety and dodging all the various objects that townsfolk throw at him while riding his biycyle.
Long story short, someone is kidnapping townsfolk on Halloween night and it is up to Hubie and his trusty Swiss Army thermos full of soup to solve the case. Along the way, he’ll have to dodge bullies like Ray Liotta, Time Meadows and Maya Rudolph, collaborate with police officer Kevin James, and win the love of his high school crush (Julie Bowen who I recognized but wasn’t sure from what until I looked it up and realize she played Sandler’s love interest in Happy Gilmore and has still got it!)
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure who this movie is for. Sandler still practices that old school style of unwoke comedy though you can sort of tell it was run through a filter where various suits probably told him “You can’t do this or that or this or that and here’s as far as we’ll let you go.”
As someone who was alive during Sandler’s early heyday, I appreciate his style, though Im not sure many today still do…or then again maybe they do as this movie is ranked in the Netflix’s top ten as of late (at least, last I checked).
It does have some swears and some adult jokes, yet overall it is silly and childish so I can’t see adults loving it – it is Halloween based so you’d think it would be for the kids yet due to the aforementioned swearing and adult jokes, I’m not sure you’d want your young kids to watch it either. I believe it is PG 13 which seems about right.