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Archive for the ‘future’ Category

Utopia (2013)

In Amazing, Crime, future, new, political, Recommendation, Review, Spy on 27/02/2013 at 8:50 pm

This thrilling drama tells a story that questions the powers that be and the reality we live in, and it does so with sound and visuals so new to TV drama and so powerful that it’s actually interesting.

The first episode of this new Channel 4 drama had me completely enthralled because I had no clue what it was about, yet I couldn’t wait to know more. The second episode clarifies all, which could lead to feeling like being smacked in the face, but then it’s all balanced out in the following parts of the story. The violence in Utopia is so unreasonable that at first I feared it was just a failed attempt at imitating a Tarantino film, but as the story progresses it comes together and it turns out it’s a well considered part of the plot.

As with any plot driven story, the question is: have they managed to make the characters more than just vehicles for the plot? Are they messy, confused human beings driven by odd thoughts and random emotions, like real ones? And I think, most of the time, they are. A couple of exceptions aside where the balance between (essential) humour and downright clumsiness is lost.  As for the plot itself, it’s a good variation on a well known theme: how a wish for a perfect world, in hands of few with too much power, has the potential to destroy society. A perpetual fear that storytellers use creatively, and keeps the audience on its toes.

Utopia is very good entertainment with a chunk of evergreen societal relevance.

 

Black Mirror (2011-)

In Amazing, future, new, political, Recommendation, series on 17/02/2013 at 5:19 pm

The acclaimed dystopian tales by Charlie Brooker have come to life again as three new episodes are broadcast on Channel 4 this February 2013. It’s tricky to say something about Black Mirror as a whole because every episode takes place in a different near-future reality, with new characters and cast and a different premise every time. But the general idea is: it’s pretty amazing, go watch it now.

Black Mirror deals with phenomena that are close to our daily lives today, and mainly with the consequences of ever more elaborate and intrusive technology. Every episode could possibly come true – making Black Mirror more speculative fiction than science fiction. The immense social and personal effects of, for example, everybody having implants so they record absolutely everything they see and do, are the focal point of the stories. Plot driven stories that are character driven by narration, that’s what sets Black Mirror apart from most other speculative storytelling. Good acting helps too, by the way.

Brooker does allow for a certain dose of outrageous ideas in most episodes, making the series distinctly dystopian – a doomed vision of reality that is just as unlikely to come true as utopia. Extrapolating probable phenomena (ie keeping the dead alive through software) and making them definite shows us a worst case scenario that is still utterly credible.

Anyway, it’s very well done.  Here’s a trailer for series 1.

Perfect Sense (2011)

In BBC, film, future, Review, romantic on 12/11/2012 at 5:29 pm

A dystopian drama starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green. To me, that sounds like a proper treat.

Perfect Sense is a story built around a truly terrifying idea: an unstoppable virus that slowly takes away all human senses. It starts with smell. Chef Michael (McGregor) and epidemiologist Susan (Eva Green) are both affected, yet they fall in love. And this is, unfortunately, all there is to the story. What follows is more of the same.

No dystopian story is compelling enough on its own: it needs to tell us about life and society today, using a ‘what if’ premise as a metaphor, such as a terrible epidemic of some sort. This story is paradoxically too pompous as well as too thin. The former because a virus taking all our senses is too incredible and too hopeless. There is no story left to tell. There is nothing to resolve, nothing to learn, nothing to enjoy or be sad about. The latter because, although Green and McGregor are as captivating as ever, the characterisation – or the personal drama – is to flimsy to actually stir any emotions. It is quite a shame to waste two great actors on mediocre writing.

This mediocre writing is also very apparent through the over-abundant use of a narrative voice-over. Not that I’m ever not annoyed by voice overs, but this one is particularly irritating as it almost flaunts the filmmaker’s lack of skill in telling the story with actual film. Oh, and then there’s the score. I would compliment director David Mackenzie on avoiding melodrama, if he hadn’t thrown in such a shiteload of appalling melodramatic violin goo.

I’m really sorry there aren’t nicer things I can say about this film. If you’re intrigued by the topic, I suggest you read Saramago’s Blindness. A very beautiful novel about an epidemic that makes the world’s population blind. It’s astonishingly realistic, touching, disgusting and compelling.

V for Vendetta (2005)

In Amazing, film, future, political, Recommendation, Review, romantic on 05/11/2011 at 6:03 pm

Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot.

I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

V for Vendetta is a gorgeous tale inspired by the Gunpowder plot – when a Catholic called Guy Fawkes plotted assassinate the king by blowing up the House of Lords in 1605. Fawkes’ plan was thwarted, and since that day Britain celebrates Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November by lighting bonfires and burning self-made Guy effigies (it is also said the word ‘guy’, meaning ‘oddly dressed male’ comes from this).

In V for Vendetta, the masked, knife throwing and poetic hero/terrorist/freedom fighter who calls himself V (Hugo Weaving) is the lone conspirator against a cruel, totalitarian British government. He comes to the rescue of Eve (Natalie Portman) who was cornered by ill-intentioned secret police ruffians called Fingermen, and thus Eve gets entangled in V’s plot against the terrible regime.

V’s cause is just, for who agrees with a government who subordinates its subjects like this one does? As the story unravels, it investigates the psychology of the masses (Why do people submit to oppression? When do they decide to stand up?) as well as the beliefs, motives and fears of the individual.  Meanwhile, V is one of the most hopelessly romantic as well as deeply tragic heroes and even Eve doesn’t ever get to see the face under the mask.

Great supporting roles are played by Stephen Fry as Eve’s colleague Dietrich, Stephen Rea as government baddie Finch and John Hurt as the embodiment of all evil: Chancellor Sutler. The dialogues in this film are especially stunning, and so is frankly everything else. A terribly entertaining good story, magnificently told.

 

 

Burn Up (2008)

In future, political, Recommendation, Review, series on 01/07/2011 at 6:05 pm

A dystopian global warming / political thriller very much worth the watch. It’s a two-part miniseries, or rather, one very long film, dealing with the biggest problem the world is effectively facing, but not dealing with at the moment: Oil. We are polluting the face of the Earth off for one, and we could very well be running out of it, too. International relations, capitalism and the market economy as ideologies, the future of humankind and nature and industrial crime all come together. This and some additional fictitious yet probable problems make ‘the oil question’ seem more urgent than ever.

Burn Up is a Canadian-UK co-production starring Rupert Penry-Jones (Tom) and Neve Campbell (Holly) and Mark Warren (Philip). Tom was recently made head of a fictional oil company like Shell or BP, after his father-in-law retired. He starts off as a real corporate capitalist who only cares about making profit. Holly is in charge of renewable energy within this company, but of course that’s just a PR effort.  The more truth surfaces about the damage the corporation is doing, the more Tom’s conscience is nagged and pestered by it. The drama works towards a big climate change summit, where the British government surreptitiously tries to move the US towards ratifying ‘Kyoto 2’. Meanwhile, other intelligence of tremendous global urgency has surfaced, urging Tom to make a decision about what side he is on: the oil baddies, or the rest of humankind.