When I finished the second episode of Life is Strange 2, I wanted to check for an updated soundtrack playlist on YouTube (I sure hope they release a soundtrack like they’ve done for Life is Strange and Before the Storm!), and my favorite song so far is the last song of the episode, First Aid Kit’s I Found a Way. Searching around I found a page for them on Bandcamp, where their first 2 albums are available, including the one with I Found a Way, The Lion’s Roar. While I’m not exactly a fan of country music, I do like the older/traditional music, which ties into and overlaps folk music, which is how most would categorize First Aid Kit. If you’re looking for something that’s a nice change of pace from the hectic modern world I highly recommend you give them a listen!
One of my favorite sites to visit is uses this, which twice a week interviews someone regarding the hard- and software they use for their work. Subjects come from a wide range of fields, including writing, programming, music, and more. The current one is for Party Nails, a musician from LA. Going to her Bandcamp page, I was instantly taken in by the vocals and bass playing. It’s a nice poppy and laid-back vibe, perfect for what I’ve been wanting to listen to lately!
From Empire of Imagination author Michael Witwer, joined by Kyle Newman, Playing at the World‘s Jon Peterson, and Michael’s brother Sam, Art & Arcana is a very comprehensive look at the visual history of Dungeons and Dragons. Starting from the beginnings of the original game and going up through the current 5th edition, this book is absolutely crammed full of artwork! The accompanying text is not too bad a read, though the text size was a tad small for me. Also, I did appreciate the slight ribbing at the 3rd, 3.5, and 4th edition rules and the exaggerated artwork that came along with it (seriously, I CANNOT stand Wayne Reynold’s artwork!), but glad it wasn’t too overbearing. I bet there’s plenty of artwork you’ve never seen before, and it was nice to re-visit some of my favorite pieces from David Trampier, Erol Otus, and Jeff Easley!
I had heard of Black Mirror quite a few times over the years, but despite having access to it via Netflix I never thought to check it out before. That changed awhile back when I decided to watch the San Junipero episode from Season 3. I had heard Black Mirror was an anthology, and while some episodes have connecting elements it could be watched in any order. Hearing just how good San Junipero was, I figured I could start there and if I liked it could then go back and start at the beginning.
Well, needless to say San Junipero was amazing! But, it was quite awhile before I actually sat down to begin watching the other episodes. In fact, it wasn’t until the release of Bandersnatch that finally gave me the needed kick in the butt. As there are quite a few episodes in total, I wanted to give my quick impression of each one. I’m also careful NOT to spoiler anything, because you REALLY need to go into this and experience it with no previous knowledge!
Individual quick reviews
- The National Anthem – An obscene and over-the-top premise quickly sets the tone of what to expect from this show. But, a great ending does set things up…
- Fifteen Million Merits – An interesting premise, but felt very claustrophobic and under-developed regarding the technology and plot relating to it. But I do have to give a shout-out to Daniel Kaluuya‘s performance, especially his monologue at the climax.
- The Entire History of You – The first episode to wisely use futuristic technology, along with fantastic acting and realistic portrayals of relationships. This is the first episode to make me REALLY want more!
- Be Right Back – The first of the more emotional episodes, this one isn’t quite as well-developed. I think the introduction of the android(?) was too soon and her adjustment too easy.
- White Bear – One of the best episodes, the premise and ending will make you think and grimace simultaneously.
- The Waldo Moment – Ugh. Definitely the weakest episode, and honestly shouldn’t have made the cut. Unfortunately nothing warrants mention.
- White Christmas – A great “anthology within an anthology” episode, and the ending is fantastic. Also, Jon Hamm was incredible!
- Nosedive – Another episode with an almost strange implementation of technology, I think it’s only because of Bryce Dallas Howards’ acting that this episode works as well as it does.
- Playtest – This episode is my guilty pleasure pick. Taking technology and video games into account, there are some genuinely scary moments and a great setting! Also, Wyatt Russell shows an incredible range of emotions and behavior.
- Shut Up and Dance – One of the least tech-featured episodes ends up being one of the most dramatic and intense of the series. Hard to watch, especially the ending, but it’s undeniably Black Mirror at its best.
- San Junipero – Absolutely one of my best picks! A great story, unique way of showing the technology in a delayed manner, and both heartbreaking and uplifting acting.
- Men Against Fire – This episode had an interesting premise and technology, but I don’t feel it was fully developed and was left underwhelmed.
- Hated in the Nation – Basically a full movie, this had an outstanding story and technology! It takes a bit to get going, but thankfully due to various run-lengths of each episode this one was allowed space to breathe and grow organically.
- USS Callister – A very ambitious episode with a stellar cast. Definitely one of my top picks!
- Arkangel – This episode was too slow and I didn’t really care about the characters, as interesting as the technology was.
- Crocodile – Wow! Very grim and dark. A great opening/beginning, and continues to spiral out of control from there. A stunning shooting location helps set the tone.
- Hang the DJ – A very sweet episode, perhaps with a better ending than San Junipero. You can’t help but smile!
- Metalhead – It was very interesting to see an episode entirely in black-and-white, I would love more in this style! A grim post-apocalyptic setting and shorter runtime made this one of the most intense episodes.
- Black Museum – A very interesting “anthology within an anthology” episode, like Metalhead I would love to see more like this. Fantastic ending!
- Bandersnatch – While not technically part of Season 5, Bandersnatch is labelled as a Black Mirror-related release. Not a normal episode or film, instead it’s characterized as a choose-your-own-adventure. It’s hard not to like the retro-inspired setting and tone, while the acting and pace of the story are both excellent. Your first viewing may take a long or short amount of time, but either way I guarantee you’ll go back at least once to try other things.
I’ve never really watched that much TV, past or present, cable or not. We’ve had Netflix for a number of years now, but the rare times it was used for TV shows were for old favorites. However, in the past few years Netflix has (co-)funded numerous series, usually modeled after the British style of fewer but longer-running episodes. We’ve slowly started to check these out, and Black Mirror certainly stands high in favor!
With a recent renewed interest in screenwriting I’ve been scouring the web for articles, reviews, etc. One of those sites with many interesting articles on screenwriting, particularly relating to the works of David Lynch, has been Cinephilia & Beyond. This site has numerous articles, not only related to screenwriting but also editing, cinematography, and more.