Who Looks into a Black Mirror?

 

When I was a kid, and even through adulthood, I wasn’t really a fan of films depicting the bad guy chasing people around and killing them. To me, those were all the same movie with different background settings with minor adjustments of tools. What I loved were movies that made me think, “Could that really happen?” After all, if it could, what were the chances of it happening to me? For that, I was a huge fan of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Sci-fi is for the mentally streaming folks, I guess.

Later on, although the concepts were still there, the effects of the old monochrome stories lost some of their pizzazz. Have no fear; Netflix is here to remedy that small discrepancy with a Britsh show entitled Black Mirror. The title alone makes a person consider what maniacal thinking is behind it.

Though the subject matter is more open and modernized with shows containing lesbians and young boys “entertaining themselves,” there are not graphic visuals. And the main focus isn’t sex, but if we’re going to talk modern, let’s face it, there’s going to be some mention of it. But the point of what you don’t know is made clearly. And just as at the end of the aforementioned movies where the viewer would lift his brows at the end and say, “Ah, I get it!” This show does that as well.

If you are someone who enjoys messing with your own brain with little mind games to keep you sharp, get that mental exercise! Here’s one of my favorites’ synopsis: “An American traveler short on cash signs up to test a revolutionary new gaming system, but soon can’t tell where the hoot game ends and reality begins.” It could happen!

Playtest

Aw, this little gopher is so adorable — what could possibly go wrong?

Written by Charles Brooker, a 46-year-old English satirist who definitely knows what he’s doing by sharing his twisted visions!

On a scale of 1 – 10 stars, this one gets an 8.

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY

 

Having read the book for my own school studies in college, I only read it because of it being an assignment. I didn’t feel like wrapping myself up in an unstable way of thinking would benefit me. Everyone has pain, this is true. And the physical and mental changes of puberty certainly impact them tremendously, but is this work fanning the fire? By getting in the hands of the right student, certainly, the way any medication has the ability to do. But I have two kids, a 15-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. Do I think it’s acceptable for them to watch? Read on, because suicides are among us at all ages.

Now Netflix has created a one-season drama surrounding the novel and the results are like a hot iron across the face of America. Some are standing in protest, some embrace the openness of the subject, and others consider the work acceptance of their own suicidal behavior – actually prompting kids to consider the option.

What’s the difference between reading a book and seeing a movie? First, the content. The book is written from Hannah’s perspective, never allowing us to understand the other characters’ opinions or their experiences into why their minds perceive things in a specific way. The book doesn’t allow the clear insight for us to understand the other characters as emotional people – just “the others” who are to blame. But the book is also a lot less graphic in the sexual scenes, teen drinking, vicious behavior, and blood.

The movie, on the other hand, allows us into a close and personal view of why the other characters are doing what they do – the abuse they’re surviving, the secrets of their own lives they’re hiding, etc. Nobody’s perfect – truly, but that doesn’t mean people stop striving for the perfectionism their parents, teachers, siblings, and romantic interests anticipate. People expect a lot. And the more they get, the more they need. This is why perfectionism is never quite met.

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In our society, special fx disguise the reality of film, literature has a faster pace, even discussions at school at more exposed than what was acceptable years ago. Advertising suffocates us on the freeways, in magazines, on television and movie screens. Blemish-free and thin heroes adorn the scenery beckoning others to “get fit” and eat this way or that. “Copy me!” they seem to shout. And here they are again.

At the beginning of the article, I presented the question as to whether or not this material should be shared with our youth. This depends on the parents and the relationship with their children. My two kids? Yep, they saw it. However, eyes were shielded as Hannah held the razor to her wrist and a few other choice scenes where descriptions suffice. They didn’t need to see the act to understand what was happening – after all, the entire show centered around suicide. But, I would stop the show every once in a while and we would discuss some of the alternatives Hannah could have made at that point. For example, going to parties in high school where parents aren’t visible but underaged drinking is? A clear invitation to disaster.

Some of the scenes were clearly fictitious, such as a whiskey flask at a school dance being openly passed between students – doesn’t happen. And half the student body appears tattooed when you are to be 18 before a parlor legally sees you without parental consent. Other things were easily imagined, such as the graffiti on the bathroom walls at the school, and photos being taken and shared among peers. I’ve seen some of these things myself and often wondered what words the students must hear throughout the day before witnessing it permanently on a wall or on a screen. And how much of the crap is hearsay or completely made up by some girl who wasn’t chosen as a prom date, or a guy who was one-upped by another? It happens.

If you plan on having your child watch this show, please be responsible enough to watch it and discuss what is happening. If you decide not to watch it, make sure your child has made the same decision. If not, chances are they’ll watch it without you.

By the way, producer Selena Gomez states we should all be prepared for the next season. I suppose it stirred up enough controversy, producers have decided to wring it out for what it’s worth! Seems like they took a pseudo positive spin and took off while it’s hot. While some argue the sex, violence, drinking and tattoos boasts a “reality check” for kids, others may disagree. Then again, we may need to stop and ask where our focus is.

 Core Cast
Dylan Minnette Dylan Minnette
 Clay Jensen (13 episodes, 2017)
Katherine Langford Katherine Langford
 Hannah Baker (13 episodes, 2017)
Christian Navarro Christian Navarro
 Tony Padilla (13 episodes, 2017)
Alisha Boe Alisha Boe
 Jessica Davis (13 episodes, 2017)
Brandon Flynn Brandon Flynn
 Justin Foley (13 episodes, 2017)
Justin Prentice Justin Prentice
 Bryce Walker (13 episodes, 2017)
Miles Heizer Miles Heizer
 Alex Standall (13 episodes, 2017)
Ross Butler Ross Butler
 Zach Dempsey (13 episodes, 2017)
Devin Druid Devin Druid
 Tyler Down (13 episodes, 2017)
Amy Hargreaves Amy Hargreaves
 Lainie Jensen (13 episodes, 2017)
Derek Luke Derek Luke
 Kevin Porter (13 episodes, 2017)
Kate Walsh Kate Walsh
 Olivia Baker (13 episodes, 2017)

 

 

 

 

Going in Style is a Stylish Riot

When Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin team up for a comedy, hold onto your britches, because you’re going to need a grownup diaper by the time this is over!

As a little kid, I always thought grownups were proper and their sense of humor fades, but that isn’t right at all. When Zach Braff took on this film, he knew the casting director did the job right. There is no better choice for a cast for a film of this magnitude.

A trio of men who had been friends forever grow sick and tired of taking it up the rear by the big companies who sucked the life out of them in the first place – from the company they worked at forever to the banks. They must decide to take it lying down or climb up on the mechanical bull for one final ride, and you know what they choose. It’s that ride that lets you know not to let your guard down with grandma and grandpa – you never know what they’ll do next. Rob a bank? Perhaps.

Until you see the movie, catch a glimpse of what makes it so damned funny.

 

In my book of 10 stars — this film gets a fairly secure 8.

Logan’s Alcoholism Slows his Mentality

Let’s make this clear. The movie is anything but slow, as the action seldom with this all-star cast refuses to let the average movie-goer use the restroom, much less get a drink, without knowing ahead of time they’re making a choice of missing something grand. (Be sure and empty your bladder before you get comfy.) Hugh Jackman has made Wolverine synonymous with himself, as always, in the latest X-men film. Someday, when he’s old and gray, finding a replacement will prove next to impossible. Until then, women are as pleased as ever to see his wide and expanding chest stretched across an IMAX screen whenever possible. Seems the men are just as impressed for different reasons, but everyone agrees he’s a hell of an actor. Jackman doesn’t let anyone down here. However, alcoholic Wolverine appears to have a mental disconnect and requires Xavier to club him over the head in revealing his secret.

Patrick Stewart is his usual sardonic personality but seems a bit off in this film as he introduces Logan to a child born of Wolverine’s loins several times. Of course, shortly after, he says “adios” to the cast. But no matter how many times Xavier tells his friend, Logan just doesn’t seem to understand. Perhaps Logan feels as if the child was born from a bender and doesn’t want to face his alcoholism. I suppose this isn’t that uncommon.

When Logan realizes Laura (Dafne Keen), is his own child, he appears pleased that she’s as independent as she is — like her hairy father and plots to save her life. Although the filmmakers discovered Dafne in the UK after scouring the planet for the perfect actress, the eleven-year-old does an amazing job as a Latin speaking immigrant. The first half of the film, she manages to get her points across without uttering a single word. She’s born for film acting with her acrobat and gymnastic skills, as well as being bilingual, and having an expressive face.

Comedian and many-coat-wearing talent Stephen Merchant is another name that isn’t as big as it deserves to be — yet, anyway. His versatile and charismatic charm is finally getting the attention it deserves as he plays Caliban, a bug-eyed, pale-faced sidekick to the X-men. Though he’s suffered many times before, his character suffers greatly in this role. Let’s just say he’s far from getting the golden tan of George Hamilton.

If you’re wanting to get your money’s worth, this movie is a terrific way to escape the little ones for an adult night out. It’s rated R, so count on a lot of blood and slicing as Wolverine and his new genetic offspring kick some egotistical ass. The stunts of bodies spiraling in the air leave a bit to be desired, but the plot and other effects graciously camouflage the awkward rotations.

This show gets 4 out of 5 stars in our book of movie ratings.

 

Monsters Me, Monsters U

Billy Crystal and John Goodman are inseparable as the comedic team of Mike and Sully in this children’s feature film. Helen Mirren and Steve Buscemi are terrific accomplices, however this film seems to lack the unexpected comedic play the characters derived from each other in the first family favorite, Monsters Inc.  It seems like the producers were anxious to get another movie out while the title was hot.

This picks up before Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan meet, when Randall Boggs’ is Mike’s unlikely roomy. Mike is the studious book-smart geek and Sully is the jock that slides through on skill. When the two join forces, they are given an ultimatum by Dean Hardscrabble to win the Scare Games in order to keep the entire fraternity active in the Scaring Program. If they don’t win, Mike has to leave the campus with his tail between his legs. Okay, he doesn’t have a tail. That would make him look weird, but you get the picture.

The thing about this movie is it’s a kid’s movie, right? Funny and upbeat. However this movie mistakenly has more downsides than upsides to it throughout. Even though they make a failing attempt to make the downbeats funny, it pulls away from the story.

Please make another, Dan Scanlon, but concentrate on getting the story right instead of cashing in on the name.

On the Ten-Star System, this flick gets between a six and a seven, mostly because all of the ruckus riled the audience just to let them down after they’d purchased their tickets.