Tag Archives: Charlie Brooker

Snowpocalypse? Nopocalypse.

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At the end of what is best described as a changeable week for plucky Brits, it’s good to know that some things are always the same.

The threat of a couple of inches of snowfall is sufficient to plunge the UK into a frenzy of addled speculation about the dire consequences of of a wholly predictable spate of wintry weather, with even the likes of your self-flagellating blogger having to confess to frequent F5’ing of his weather site of choice despite common sense indicating that nothing much is going to happen.

At present, Sheffield is witness to a couple of inches – tops – of snow, with more light flurries predicted during the weekend – not exactly the new ice age which most UK tabloids would have us believe is inbound with extreme frosty prejudice.  I imagine Canadian readers of this post must be chuckling into their Tim Hortons cup at the very idea of our January snow panic and wondering just how we would react to an actual outbreak of real weather.

As always, when it comes to scenarios like this, I have to think that Charlie Brooker said it best…

 

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Charlie Brooker on “The Avengers”

Critical Hit!

Pictured, Pop Culture pundit Charlie Brooker yesterday…

 

Professional contrarian, angry man about town and top fellow Charlie Brooker reviews “The Avengers” movie, in an attempt to understand where the kids are at and reaches some conclusions on the very real ordeal which is a modern cinema visit.  Honestly, it’s less like a visit to the movies and more like some absurd combination of obstacle courses, exam, demonic crèche and mobile phone demo unit.

 

Usual proviso when reading any of Mr Brooker’s rants – he does like his swears and robust imagery.  Forewarned and all that…

Behold: the Marvel Avengers Assemble 3D experience | Charlie Brooker | The Guardian.

 

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“Black Mirror” episode two spoiler-free review online

Nope, no similarity to any high-waisted reality tv judge, living or dead...

Den of Geek has a spoiler-free review of the second “Black Mirror” story, reality tv chiller “15 Million Merits”.

In a future where many of us have exchanged our right to privacy for free access to social networks, online gaming platforms and other forms of technological shiny-shinyness, this week’s story appears to have more than a grain of uncomfortable truth in it…

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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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Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror” gets a rave review

...sometimes, the iPhone looks back into you.

Those nice people at Den of Geek have seen “The National Anthem”, the first episode in Charlie Brooker’s dark anthology series, “Black Mirror” and seemed to like it a lot.

It’s billed as a series which is a modern take on the eerie and uncanny likes of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” or ITV’s gloriously camp “Tales of the Unexpected” – for an age where social media sometimes seems to have more power than the governments ostensibly calling the shots.

You can find out more on Channel Four in the UK, which shows the first of three episodes on December 4th at 9:00pm.

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Charlie Brooker 4, Modern Warfare 3

Fun fact. Charlie Brooker actually looks like this in real life...

Erstwhile screenwriter, telly face and gaming curmudgeon Charlie Brooker is at it again. And as usual, he’s got a ruddy good point.

You might remember him from his various BBC series – “How TV Ruined Your Life”, “Newswipe” and his one-off special, “Gameswipe”, or in his capacity as the creator of Channel Four’s ace reality telly/zombie mash-up, “Dead Set”. He’s also one of the few Guardian columnists whose byline I actively seek in the paper, chiefly as he never loses a chance to integrate games and gaming into the papers’ general arts conversation.

His latest column tackles “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” intelligently and asks a simple question that has probably occurred to most games players at one time or another:

Why am I playing this game, when the protagonist is such a weapons-grade tool?“.

Yes, he's got a mohican haircut. In the Military FPS genre, this passes for characterisation...

So often in games, movies and novels set in this genre, we’re asked to accept at face value that we should identify with characters whose sole notable feature is an ability to field-strip an assault rifle blindfolded and to p spout inane, frat-boy one-liners largely inspired by the killing of enemy combatants, the inevitable, imminent slaughter of said enemy combatants or the destructive force of the military hardware which will be used to wipe enemy combatants from the very face of the planet.

It’s all a bit dull, really – and it’s where I can’t get excited by the “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty” games. I don’t want to be these guys, so the idea of slogging through a five-to-six hour campaign in the company of people who’ve read too many Jack Ryan novels and taken them far too seriously isn’t exactly my mug of Senseo.

I’m not saying that all game protagonists must henceforth be replaced by variations on this guy:

The bard of self-deprecating urbane whimsy

But wouldn’t it be more interesting to play one of these games with a protagonist who isn’t built like a brick outbuilding and whose sole interaction with the world is to pepper it with bullets, knife slashes and tactical nukes?

I realise the irony of saying this given my preference for the bald-headed, space marine genre of third-person action games but there again, I don’t want to be those characters, either.

If games are supposed to be offering me wish-fulfilment and an escape from the pressures of the real world, they’re doing a bang-up job on the second point and a piss-poor job on the first part.

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