Daily Archives: 12/05/2011

Disquiet, unease, creeping terror – Charlie Brooker does it again.

What better way to begin the holiday season than with a bleak and blood-chilling tale of a royal kidnapping, social media running out of control and the British prime minister being asked to do unspeakable things to save a life?

Yes, Charlie Brooker’s new anthology series “Black Mirror” kicked off with “The National Anthem” and did a really good job of persuading me that the internet is a really bad idea and we should all stop using it with immediate effect.

Well, near immediate effect.

Rory Kinnear starred as Michael Callow, a British prime minister pitched into an uncontrollable nightmare when a popular young member of the royal family is kidnapped and targeted for death.  The only way to secure her release is for the PM to perform a wholly depraved act on live television: Yes, Charlie Brooker’s latest is festive fun for all the family!  Who knows what the audience who read about this episode in this week’s issue of “Radio Times” made of it, but I bloody loved it.

Rory Kinnear in "Black Mirror" is having a very bad day...

The key to this episode’s success is in the all too plausible way that it projects our fear of new technology onto a crisis which unfolds unchecked via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube with nobody in traditional authority able to do a single thing to stop it.   Watching with ever-increasing horror as events unravel completely and the traditional responses of government fail to achieve anything – in fact, the power and resources that the PM has at his fingertips more or less prevents him from doing anything but get backed into a corner – Rory Kinnear delivers one of the best performances that you’ll see on television all year.

He’s so easy to empathise with as the reality of the fate he has in store meets him, credibly panicked as the security forces achieve a fairly massive own goal and so devastated and broken by the events of one nightmarish day that you’ll actually have sympathy for a politician – absorb that entirely alien notion for a second or two.

I loved the bleak horror of the premise, the thread of gallows humour which offset some of the dread which built as the inevitable climax approached (no pun intended) and on the technical side, the muted colours and blue-tinged look of the photography (at times “The National Anthem” reminded me of “Layer Cake” – which reminded me of Michael Mann’s stuff, which is no bad thing).

Nothing’s perfect, of course, and I felt like the cross-section of British society which we encountered huddling around television sets watching events unfold was a little too on-the-nose (Have you ever met anyone who so freely conversed about Lars Von Trier’s “Dogme 95” collective of film hipsters in public?  Was this a workplace or a film studies class?).

Dark, economically told and exquisitely controlled in its anger at a world which would vote Hitler into office today if he was competing on a Simon Cowell talent show each Autumn Saturday night, “The National Anthem” bodes well for the rest of “Black Mirror”.

More of this glorious filth, please, Charlie.

 

 

 

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“Lock Out” trailer – new Sci-Fi action from Luc Besson’s genre factory

Guy Pearce, doing sardonic in 2012 sci-fi action pic, "Lock Out.

Thanks to those quick-on-the-draw types at NeoGaf’s Off-Topic forum I was able to find the first trailer for the latest sci-fi actioner from producer Luc Besson’s gallic B-movie assembly line Europa Corp, “Lock Out” .

And it’s looking okay.  The tone of the trailer’s opening first half, with Guy Pearce taking a beating whilst snarking at his captors reminded in no small way of Bruce Willis’ performance in Tony Scott and Shane Black’s neo-noir nineties classic, “The Last Boy Scout”.  For those in any doubt, that is A Very Good Thing, Indeed.

"Touch me again and I'll kill ya'..."

This film, meanwhile, sounds for all the world like a big old riff on the glorious John Carpenter/Kurt Russell eighties sci-fi “Escape From New York”, taking the premise of a down-at-heel loser getting a chance at redemption by rescuing the president’s daughter and setting it in space, with the rescue mission set on an orbital prison overrun by its inmates.

Set in the space year 1997, fact fans...

It’s due out in the spring of 2012 and seems to have just the right measure of self-aware humour to mentalist sci-fi action – this is one genre pic that I’ll be keeping an eye on.

 

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Buckaroo Banzai joins the Starship Enterprise…

Let me the 5,334th blogger to hope that he's playing Banzai in the next "Star Trek"...

More good news on the casting for J.J. Abrams’ next “Star Trek” movie – following on from the news that British thesp Alice Eve is lined-up to star (the internet scuttlebutt has her playing everyone from Nurse Chapel to a curiously attractive Tribble) comes the word via various blogs that Peter Weller is signed up for an a typically unspecified role.

He’s still a really great actor, as anybody who saw his excellent guest spot on “Fringe” will surely attest, so perhaps he’s going to play a conflicted nasty piece of work if he isn’t on the side of Kirk and co.

More speculation surely awaits as we await the  release of the film in 2013

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Reminder – Xbox 360 dashboard update hits tomorrow

Rest assured, "FIFA 12" will never besmirch my console's integrity...

Just a reminder that Microsoft are due to release the latest revision of the Xbox 360 dashboard on Tuesday 6th December – with Bing search integrated (with Kinect support, too, if you’re on the motion control train) and a LoveFilm application included if streaming films is your cup of delicious builder’s tea (the best kind, obviously).   More stuff is scheduled to roll out between now and the end of this year, with some kind of as-yet-undecided BBC presence due in the first quarter of 2012.

No news yet on whether that constitutes full iPlayer integration for UK Xbox users or something of a catch-up digest, with selected programmes on offer.

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