TV Review – Black Mirror: Hang the D.J.

Black Mirror: Hang the D.J. (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by Tim Van Patten

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Amy and George live inside The System, a walled-off community of singles who are paired off by an artificial intelligence known as Coach. The pairings are used to gather data on a person’s preferences in a partner so that they can one day be given their perfect match. The length of the pairings is seemingly random, with some lasting a couple days to others going on for an entire year. Amy and George are each other’s first date in the System, and they are only together for 12 hours. However, even after being paired up with other people, they feel a pull towards each other.

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Movie Review – The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water (2017)
Written by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor
Directed by Guillermo del Toro

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Elisa Esposito lives in Baltimore circa the early 1960s. She is mute since birth and works as a cleaning woman at a government laboratory. Her only friends are Zelda, a fellow cleaner, and Giles, her neighbor who is a closeted gay man. One night while working, a new specimen is brought into the lab by Colonel Strickland. The creature was discovered in the South American rainforest and is a humanoid fish person. Elisa feels a connection to this poor animal and worries as Strickland oversees his torture. A plan begins to develop, and Elisa becomes determined to help her new friend escape this nightmare existence.

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TV Review – Black Mirror: Crocodile

Black Mirror: Crocodile (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by John Hillcoat

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Fifteen years ago, on their way home from a club, Rob and Mia hit a cyclist and proceed to toss his body and bike into a lake. Now, Mia is a successful architect who is on a business trip in the city. While she is there, Mia commits a second heinous act and appears to cover this one up as well. However, Shazia an insurance claims investigator is traveling down a path that will come colliding with Mia’s. Shazia uses a new form of technology that uses sensory input to create video images of people’s memories. This way the insurance company has a more accurate gauge of the events that happened. An accident occurs outside Mia’s hotel window the night she makes a decision out of desperation, and she ends up on the list of witnesses to interview.

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TV Review – Black Mirror: Arkangel

Black Mirror: Arkangel (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by Jodie Foster

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Marie is a very protective mother, having almost lost her daughter Sara at birth. Years later, Sara wanders off at a park sparking these feelings of terror again. An experimental new service, Arkangel appears to provide the answer. Arkangel involves injecting a small neural implant into three-year-old Sara and outfits Marie with a tablet computer that allows her to monitor her child 24 hours a day. Sara is also instructed that she can turn on a filter that will pixelate anything Sara sees that sets off her biological stress responses. This block remains as Sara gets into upper elementary and begins to cause problems. It’s also revealed the Arkangel service was banned by the U.S. government and Marie has let her tablet gather dust in the attic. That is until Sara begins to break the rules in adolescence.

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TV Review – Black Mirror: USS Callister

Black Mirror: USS Callister (Netflix)
Written by William Bridges & Charlie Brooker
Directed by Toby Haynes

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Robert Daly is the successful Chief Technical Officer of his own gaming company that produces a popular online game called Infinity. Daly is a fan of Space Fleet, an obvious nod to the original Star Trek. He spends his evenings after work in his own offline mod of Infinity where he takes on the Captain Kirk role, and the crew members are subservient replicas of the coworkers he feels slight him on a daily basis. It’s when Nannette joins the company that we learn the creepy secret behind Robert’s game. The other characters are created from the DNA of their originals, and they continue all the memories and personality of their real selves. Robert has placed them in a digital hell where he is a god, and they must serve him.

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Movie Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
Written and Directed by Luc Besson

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Major Valerian and his partner, Sergeant Laureline are sent on a mission to recover an essential piece of technology and return it to the former International Space Station, now Alpha (the titular City of a Thousand Planets). Valerian has a sense he is connected to this artifact and that the police force onboard Alpha is being less than honest about the nature of this thing. He and Laureline become embroiled in an increasingly complex and byzantine plot aboard the melting pot called Alpha.

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TV Review – Stranger Things 2

Stranger Things 2 (Netflix)
Written by Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Justin Doble, Jessie Nickson-Lopez, Paul Dichter, Jessica Mecklenburg, Alison Tatlock, and Kate Trefry
Directed by Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Andrew Stanton, and Rebecca Thomas

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It’s almost been a year since the events of Season One that took place in Hawkins, Indiana. Will Byers is settling back into routine everyday kid life with one caveat, he routinely visits with a doctor working at the Hawkins Laboratory. This is part of the agreement Sheriff Hopper made with the lab offscreen at the end of the last season. Hopper also has a significant secret he’s keeping from everyone else. For the last few months, he has been the caretaker of Eleven. After she destroyed the Demogorgon, Eleven found herself in the Upside Down but managed to quickly breach one of the membranes between worlds and return. Hopper eventually finds her, and she becomes a surrogate daughter for the one he lost years ago. In the background of all of this looms a potent threat the dwells in the Upside Down. This many-tentacled shadow entity is moving closer and closer to opening the gate and doing to Hawkins what he has done to the other world.

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