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Black Mirror: White Christmas
This feature-length special consists of three interwoven stories. In a mysterious and remote snowy outpost, Matt and Potter share a Christmas meal, swapping creepy tales of their earlier lives in the outside world. Matt is a charismatic American trying to bring the reserved, secretive Potter out of his shell. But are both men who they appear to be?
|Crew :||Director, Writer,|
|Cast :||Jon Hamm Rafe Spall Oona Chaplin Natalia Tena Janet Montgomery|
|Genre :||Drama Horror Mystery|
Blissfully dark viewing. Darker then the toast.---I think the first time round I watched it I didn't fully absorb into it, subsequently I would now class it as one of the very best. It's is definitely one of the darkest, bleakest and down right sadistic episodes, and for a show like Black Mirror that's really saying something. I've tried to think up one narrative that links each episode of Black Mirror, and it's tough, the closest I've gotten is that mankind will always use technology to take advantage of others, be it monetary, political or for love. We get three stories in this episode and that rule could definitely apply in each case. I love the idea of three stories combining to make one, it's a technique that's not often used, but when it does it's hugely satisfying, each story links with each other, elements would also reappear in later stories, such as Arkangel.Lots of questions come out of it, did Potter get rough justice, or was he the victim, was Matt a good or a bad guy? Is under cooked toast actually edible? you could debate and argue it for hours. John Hamm and Rafe Spall were excellent, two very strong performances. Visually dazzling as always.The top of many people's Christmas watch list I shouldn't wonder.
Masterfull!---WHITE CHRISTMAS can easily be called the best Black Mirror episode ever, and based on it's lofty 9+ rating, not surprising. A clinic in atmosphere, storytelling, writing , and acting, White Christmas incorporates various technologies already presented on the series and expands upon them to a point where it seems like the future has been laid out. Anchored by a brilliant, award-worthy performance by TV icon Jon Hamm (Emmy winner from Mad Men), this episode is captivating start to finish. White Christmas starts off in a remote cabin with 2 men seemingly imprisoned there, cut off from society. The 2 men are Matt (the aforementioned Hamm) and Joe (a superb Rafe Spall), who share each other's stories in an effort to break the boredom, all the while cooking up and feasting on a very British Christmas meal. Joe is actually British while Matt is an American living in England.We find out that Matt is a manipulative, smooth-talking closer, both in his day job and his extracurricular activities, while Joe is a more innocent, humane person who seems like he couldn't hurt a fly. Layers and layers are deftly revealed throughout the episode, all the while some nifty technology is showcased, including that Bluetooth-like eye technology first shown in The Entire History of You, as well as a much more advanced version of the digital cookies tech first shown in Be Right Back. But the director smartly mixes the technology into the story, and not allowing it to dominate. Instead the very real and true human characters shine.In addition to the 2 great leads Hamm and Spall (both of whom should have won awards), the supporting cast, including a now fairly famous Janet Montgomery, all make this splendid episode come to life. In particular, Oona Chaplin (as Greata) and Rasmus Hardiker (as Harry) stand out as they played big roles in 2 of the 3 stories. Interestingly, this was really a Special Christmas episode, but has been coined as the official last episode of Season 2 (even though it came out close to 2 years after the end of that season), then Season 3 came out two full years after this. I think the series didn't really garner worldwide attention until Netflix took over. A shame because I feel this masterpiece of an episode deserved serious acclaim and award recognition.
The most memorable, although unpleasant on many levels---Thanks to the smooth, handsome presence of Jon Hamm this is an eminently watchable episode. However, Hamm brings across some of the creepiness of his Don Draper character.Stuck in an outpost with a "colleague", named Joe, the Hamm character (named Matt) starts telling how he ended up in the allegedly sh**y job, far removed from society. As a sidelines from his main job, Matt used to run a sort of dating service, giving real-time advice to insecure men on how to hook up with girls. Unethically, Matt shared these experiences live, with his previous clients. Voyeurism turns into Matt's demise, when one of his clients hooks up with the wrong girl. Then Matt starts talking about his main job and from this moment it is clear where the episode is heading. Matt's job is actually convincing his "colleague" Joe to open up about his past and since Matt is so smooth you can bet he will succeed.The story takes place during the Christmas period and the festive atmosphere adds more creepines to the unfolding tale. Do not expect a happy ending (sorry Matt, not even for you, since you don't deserve it)
Simply not believable---Let me start this off by saying that I love "Black Mirror". All the previous episodes shone with great acting, real-feeling, mostly sympathizable characters and a vision that, while grim, still mostly seemed believable for a world where we haven't been paying close enough attention to the side effects of cutting-edge technology."White Christmas" though... well...It started out well enough. The "remote-assisted seduction" part felt real enough to make me cringe throughout the character's clumsy flirting. (In a good way!) And towards the end, of course, it became very thrilling indeed, assisted by intelligent use of the first-person view - although as a portrayal of schizophrenia it was already a bit lazy (and, some mental health advocates might argue, harmful).And after that, the storyline just started to fall into utter ridiculousness.The "cookie". Oh my. What a tragically, if not comically bad cliché portrayal of deep learning and artificial intelligence.The whole issue of "fully conscious copies of human beings are a commercial product, but no one seems to even consider it an open question if maybe they should have rights, even though you can literally see them suffer" aside, why on Earth would any sane, rational, profit-oriented company go through the (certainly enormous) R&D effort of creating this fully-fledged, fully conscious virtual copy of a human being only to have it resist (i.e. fail) when tasked with the most mundane "smart home" related functions, forcing you to literally torture them into submission? Why on Earth would you not just use deep learning to train the functional parts of the AI (i.e. the parts that decide how dark the customer likes her toast and how warm she likes the floor heating) and implement it into an emotionless, unconscious management software that simply does its job?It makes no sense. Absolutely none. It's just a cheap cliché for people who don't understand how deep learning works and who think "neural network" = brain = full human consciousness. And it makes that misunderstanding worse.Then there's the characters and their "development". Especially the female characters seem like they are just shallow vehicles to demonstrate how the most impulsive and heartless person imaginable would use the "block" function. Living together, happily married with a small child? Doesn't matter, you'll get blocked before the first big argument is even over. Really?And the ending... I mean, hey, nice "plot twist" there. If only it didn't, once again, lead to even more ridiculousness, with the "hero" being granted the very lenient sentence of total social isolation for the rest of his life. Which is, I think most people would agree, orders of magnitude worse than even a lifelong prison sentence.I don't know what they were thinking with this one. Shallow characters, bonkers misrepresentation of technology, and a half-baked and incongruent story. How this is the highest-rated episode of "Black Mirror" is beyond me. There are much, much, much, much better ones.
"There's no such thing as real people."---I was compelled to watch this episode of 'Black Mirror' a second time. There seems to be no doubt that the series has a fascination with dealing severe retribution and justice for crimes against humanity. 'White Bear' was a good story, but this one was brilliant in it's execution, weaving it's way through three interconnecting stories with Smartelligence agent Matthew (Jon Hamm) guiding us along. Each of those individual stories stand well on their own, but the way things are brought around to their ultimate conclusion is shocking in it's cycle of unending repetition. Watching the series in order, this one is so far the best that 'Black Mirror' has to offer, but I wouldn't be surprised if writer Charlie Brooker tops even himself in a later episode. The question is, where else can you go from here?