My Take on Black Mirror’s Latest Season

We live in the age of technology. Nearly every spectrum of our life is associated with some form of tech. Man made machine but now, it’s the machine that makes the man. Whether it be through the formation of our identities on various platforms of social media or the consumption of news and media through the Internet, we are heavily reliant on technology to lead our day-to-day lives.

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And that’s why Black Mirror, the bleak sci-fi anthology series created by Charlie Brooker, is exactly what we need to remind us of the grim outcomes that may result if we continue blindly down this path. Our technological advancements come with the risk of detaching from human interaction – and when the the very essence of humanity stems from empathy and connection, wouldn’t this place us on the losing side of a bargain?

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As every episode of Black Mirror imparts viewers with a key message to reflect upon, I can’t entirely say that Season 5 was a hard miss but in comparison to the brilliant, mind-blowing impact of some of the previous seasons, it was rather underwhelming.

The casting was undoubtedly well done with familiar and talented faces all around. In particular, Andrew Scott’s (you may remember him as Moriarty from Sherlock) performance was impeccable. His acting was probably the saving grace of the episode ‘Smithereens‘ in which he features.

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That being said, this season was definitely a little ‘softer’ around the edges in comparison to the previous episodes which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it hit closer to home, especially with regard to ‘Smithereens’ and ‘Ashley O’. I found the episodes to be much more indicative of issues that already exist in today’s age of technology, issues such as social media and porn addiction.

My favorite episode was without a doubt ‘Striking Vipers’, the first one in the season. I’m surprised that it’s one of the lower rated episodes, considering it brings the classic shock-value and distinct discomfort associated with the better Black Mirror episodes, but more so because of the themes it opens up for discussion – the potential for technology to impact forms of human intimacy.

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Yeah…let’s not go there yet, Karl.

Unlike ‘San Junipero’ or ‘Hang the DJ’ however, ‘Striking Vipers’ is comparably less heartwarming with the real-life implications it presses in a world of Virtual Reality which can alter people’s perception of self-image and broaden the boundaries of human sexuality. Through the uncomfortable intimacy projected on the screen of two college best friends entering a cyber-affair filled with lots of virtual sex, I somehow came to understand and appreciate what Brooker was driving at.

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Any Street Fighter or Tekken fans will feel some major throwbacks with this one.

Whether or not you’re an avid gamer, you know what it feels like to want to live out a fantasy with zero repercussions on your life. It’s human to desire more and search for an escape from a dissatisfying aspect to our lives. The episode brings to light the cost of doing so and the fight to either accept the blowback and own up to it, or continue to live in a world with no fantasy to fall back on.

The audience quickly realizes that Danny and Karl (our good ol’ cyber-loving buddies) do not feel the emotional or sexual intimacy they experience in VR in reality. They are not, by any means, ‘gay’ in that sense. However, the two of them who share years of friendship and closeness, finally find a platform to explore the meaning of that intimacy. And it stays there, limited to that realm of existence, virtual as it may be.

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The complex dynamic of VR allowing emulation of the sexual experience in a woman’s body for a man whose heterosexual identity in reality is now redefined and put into question, was brilliant. The ramifications of this on Karl’s sexual performance (in real life) are also explored in the episode. His sexual fulfillment is now entirely dependent on, not just adapting the gaming persona of Roxette, but in having it be with Danny in that form.

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Technology has the potential to completely redefine the boundaries of sexuality, gender identity and self-image. While this season may have been a little ‘mellow’ with its shock-factor, Season 5 still holds up to true Black Mirror fashion – provoking its viewers to think and reflect about how much power we’re willing to give away for our progression and the real-life impact of doing so on the most fundamental aspects to human life.

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A Conclusion Worth Waiting For (Bahubali 2)

Bahubali 2: The Conclusion ★★★★★
(a spoiler-free review)

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I’m going to scrap the usual format I have for my movie reviews and just get straight to it with this one. Bahubali 2: The Conclusion gets a solid five stars on my board. I would give it a million stars if I could because this movie rocked me to my core, and was truly a conclusion worth waiting for. Take Medieval India, historical romance, and an epic fantasy legend executed perfectly through a genius-director – and you get the wonder that is Bahubali.

I watched the first part on a bus journey returning home after my semester exams.  I had been sleep-deprived and couldn’t care less what movie was playing on the overhead screen but when the name S.S. Rajamouli popped up, my interest was piqued. I’d remembered watching another film he’d directed called Magadheera and wanted to see if this would be worth my time. Two years later and I find myself sitting at the edge of my seat in the cinema theatre – a mix of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation for what was to come. It did not disappoint. Continue reading

Beatrice Reviews “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1)” (Movie)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1) ★★★★☆

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The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. Rotten Tomatoes

The Hunger Games movie franchise is a hugely successful one, right next to Harry Potter and (regrettably) Twilight. I used to stand strongly in my opinion that a movie adaptation can never beat the original novel(s) it’s based upon. Well, feel free to go ahead and laugh in my face because this film proved me very, very wrong.

I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my home, with my own bucket of popcorn and snacks that aren’t ridiculously over-priced than going to the cinema. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part I) was one of the most (if not the most) anticipated movie of 2014, and I just couldn’t wait either! I queued up with my friends at the cinemas to watch it and boy, am I glad I had. Continue reading

Beatrice Reviews "The Lucky One" (Movie)

The Lucky One (2012) ★★★☆☆

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A Marine travels to Louisiana after serving three tours in Iraq and searches for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm during the war. (IMDb)

I spent most of my Christmas night this year in bed, strapped down beneath the covers by the resolve to do nothing. It turned out to be much harder than I thought. I begun to float in a mental pool of self-loathing, and my thoughts screamed release from the madness that is my mind. And that is where the beautiful art of cinema intervened. I’d grabbed the remote control and flicked through random channels on TV before settling on one. The Notebook was on. A personal favorite (it is to most girls my age). From then on, what I’d planned for to be (possibly) my first night of non-Christmas-celebrations descended into a marathon of smushy romantic dramas, one of which is The Lucky One.

When the movie started, I prepared myself to witness 101 minutes of another cheesy romance with a bittersweet ending, the latter being a common element in Nicholas Sparks’ novels. Having not read the book, I didn’t know what exactly to scale the movie against. The Lucky One didn’t meet my expectations of what I had assumed it to be though. It beat them, just by a little bit.

Continue reading