3 items from 2017
Tom Jolliffe on modern sci-fi, the technology around the corner and how it may destroy us…
As far as Science Fiction goes, the film and TV shows that audiences have watched over the years have often featured some sense of foreboding. What happens if… This could be James Cameron’s Terminator which shows a world in which human beings keep on pushing the limits of technology to achieve military dominance, only for those machines to become self-aware and enslave humanity. It’s our ever-growing greed and quest for perfection that ultimately pushes us further away from our own humanity. As technology develops, everything becomes easier, but at what price?
Like Cameron’s vision, plenty of science fiction films and TV shows warn us of the dangers of crossing human ambition with technology. As far as human technological development is concerned though, there have been huge strides forward since the turn of the century. »
- Amie Cranswick
Now that Black Mirror has a Netflix-sized budget, the sky appears to be the limit.
Charlie Brooker, co-creator of the relentlessly dark series, recently sat down with Deadline to chat about his experience of bringing the project to life and the trouble with predicting what kind of misery our own technology might bring us next.
"I was toying with an idea for this season coming up that was literally torn from today’s headlines, and I kind of thought, Well, the problem is, things are moving so quickly at the moment; who can say where we’ll be in six months?" he explained." I wouldn’t want to, in a way, in case I ended up doing something that looked massively dated. I’ve probably gone more conceptual with the next season, partly because I think the world became so unpredictable. It would be a fools errand, trying to see which way things are going to land."
The erstwhile Screenwipe host also confirmed that production is still underway on season 4. "I can say that we’re currently shooting the fourth one in London - and when I say 'the fourth one,' that’s not necessarily the order in which they’ll go up."
Brooker didn't want to reveal too much about the upcoming episodes, but he did hint that the fourth season of Black Mirror will be even more outlandish in terms of its science fiction elements.
"I can’t really say much else, except I think there’s quite a lot of stuff that’s quite out there. I don’t know if I’ve lost touch with reality, or what. But then what often tends to happen is I think, Oh my God, this is completely and utterly farfetched, and then reality catches up. So I was consciously trying to cast further afield, I think, in terms of what stories we’re doing. And partly also because I think I was so terrified about the state of the world, I thought, I’m going to entertain myself by having some kooky thoughts."
More news as we have it. In the meantime, feel free to flick over to page 2 of our Black Mirror season 4 nerve centre, for everything we know so far about season 4, including cast, crew and episode details.
Black Mirror season 4 release date
Charlie Brooker has been helpfully keeping fans up to date with the progress of Black Mirror's fourth season, which is still currently shooting. We'll bring you any news from Netflix regarding the release date as we have it, of course, but as the third season landed in October of last year, another autumn start could be likely.
Black Mirror season 4 episodes
Creator Charlie Brooker has told us to expect more of a lighter look at the emotional minefield of technology with the next lot.
"I do think that at the moment, as we're doing new episodes, there's a limit to how much constant nihilistic bleakness I can take,” he told The Telegraph.
“And the world is in a place at the moment where I think maybe people appreciate things that aren't so unremittingly horrible. But you also don't want to short-change people on the unremitting horribleness."
So, could we see more episodes like last season's stand-out San Junipero this time around? We'll have to wait and see.
All the way back in October, Brooker confirmed that he was already halfway through writing the fourth season of Black Mirror, and that there'll be at least one big surprise in store for us when it drops.
"Weirdly, we are… [long pause] We’re doing an episode that’s different." he said to The Independent. "I can’t say anything about it, but we’re doing one that’s in a setting we’ve never done before. But I have been thinking about how we would do medieval times and things like that."
And when the interviewer suggested a space-based instalment, Brooker apparently glanced at him "suspiciously" before saying, "Yeah, there's still settings we haven’t done that are in the pipeline."
Earlier, he expanded on the current state of the season's development.
"We've got one that's overtly comic, much more overtly comic than anything we've done. It's got fairly mainstream comic elements, but also some really unpleasant stuff that happens. I haven't even seen the rough cut of it yet. The one we're about to shoot is a crime thriller. And we're doing one that's got relationships at the heart of it. And then five and six are slightly still up for grabs."
Here comes the spoiler squirrel...so if you want to know nothing, Jon Snow, look away now!
Jillette started by talking about a time in the 80s when he spent a short spell in hospital.
"During that time, I got this idea for this short story called 'The Pain Addict'. I was postulating a future where you could put a gizmo on your head and feel someone else's pain. So there would be doctors whose whole job it was to feel pain and say, 'His left arm is broken.' 'That's not actually appendicitis, that's a cancer thing.'
"They felt every pain. Like prizefighters and childbirth and child cancer. And this guy gets addicted to it and starts beating people to feel their pain. He also goes through S&M and all he wants to do is jack into Jesus on the cross. He wants to feel that pain."
So far, so incredibly dark, but he hit a brick wall when he went on to later submit the futuristic tech tale. "I wrote this story. It was the first story I wrote when I got a computer. When we did Penn and Teller's first book, we had short stories in it. I submitted this and the editor said, 'That's too dark.'"
Hmm, who do we know who loves things that are way too dark?
"I've been trying to find a place for this story, which I thought was really good. I tried to write a comic book and they said no. I pitched it as a movie and they said no. So I told Charlie Brooker all of this and he said, 'Oh, pain addict. That's good!'"
Ah, yes. Mr. Brooker to the rescue. Jillette says that the story now has a part in the season finale that we'll get a chance to clap our eyes on later this year, and that the episode will be in the 'White Christmas' format. Called 'Black Museum', it'll have three stories interwoven around a remote Las Vegas museum, where a carny will present objects from a collection.
Brooker's comment about upcoming directors is probably the most interesting nugget from this interview:
"We’ve had people who’ve approached us that we really want to work with that schedule-wise we haven’t been able to get things to work, so that's frustrating. But we’re very fortunate. Do you know Jodie Foster’s directing one for season four? So that's quite good."
Yep, that's Jodie Foster the Oscar-winning actress who recently directed George Clooney in Money Monster and Mel Gibson in The Beaver. You could argue that "quite good" is a bit of an understatement, even though Foster has helmed episodes of Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards for Netflix before.
Of course, Black Mirror is no stranger to big name directors - lest we forget that Joe Wright and Dan Trachtenberg both followed major movies by helming episodes for series 3 - but this still feels like an especially impressive piece of recruitment.
Brooker has also since stated that Foster's episode has "more got the tone of an indie movie, an indie drama. There's a mother and daughter relationship in it."
Hillcoat made his feature debut with the film Ghosts...Of The Civil Dead and followed that up with the critically acclaimed movie The Proposition. He also directed the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which starred Viggo Mortenson and Charlize Theron. Hillcoat is also known for his collaborations with his teenage friend Nick Cave, who wrote and performed music for the director’s films and helmed some of the musician’s music videos. The director has also worked with Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, and Robert Plant.
Tracking Board has reported that his episode will feature two female protagonists and that Andrea Riseborough (Birdman) is in talks to play one of them.
British actress Riseborough recently co-starred in Nocturnal Animals, directed by Tom Ford. She is slated to appear in The Death Of Stalin, the upcoming political satire that will be directed by Armando Iannucci, who created HBO’s Veep. She will also be featured the independent thriller Nancy Burden, which will be about the Ku Klux Klan and Battle Of The Sexes, Fox Searchlight’s movie about the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
2005's Hard Candy isn't part of the Black Mirror-verse, but it doesn't seem massively far away from it either. The dark-as-night indie revenge thriller catapulted stars Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson plenty of rungs up the career ladder back in the day, and its director David Slade went on to helm 30 Days Of Night and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Now it seems he's also plunging into the Black Mirror water for the upcoming fourth season, as he revealed on Twitter last week that he's fully immersed behind the scenes on his very own episode:
So I've been doing this - but I can't talk about it.... pic.twitter.com/X9jUih4FUE
He pixelated out the title! No fair, Mr Slade. No fair. We'll have to wait and see what bleakness he has in store for us later this year.
Now that Kong: Skull Island is out in the wild, its director is looking for a new project to juggle alongside that Metal Gear Solid movie he's been tinkering with since 2014, and in a recent interview Jordan Vogt-Roberts surprised a few people by singling out a very specific series he'd like to work on - Charlie Brooker's technological misery-gasm Black Mirror, which currently has a comfy home on Netflix.
"I would love to do a Black Mirror episode – that would be incredible," Vogt-Roberts told Digital Spy. "My friend Dan Trachtenberg did an episode of that. I don't have any interest in just doing episodic stuff unless it's something seminal, like Black Mirror or Stranger Things or something like that."
The director went on to explain how he'd like to change things up a bit. "I don't have any interest in just collecting a pay check in that world. But I love what's happening in television and there's TV shows that you can build amazing worlds in now – that you can't with film."
Since Brooker has recently said a few of the remaining episodes of season 4 are "still up for grabs", it's not entirely out of the realms of possibility that Vogt-Roberts could be in with a shot.
Season 4 of the heavily grim show is still filming, but co-creator Brooker is already seeing a few things crop up to grab his attention.
"Weirdly there was one news story I read the other day that I thought 'Oh, how does that reflect on an episode we’ve already finished shooting?'" he said in a recent interview with Radio Times. "There was some new discovery made. Hopefully not, but then when writing them I never think any of these are going to come true, and then it seems like some of them do.
"Which is a bit worrisome, generally," Brooker added. "For this coming season they’re quite far out there so I don’t envisage that being a problem. Although if that does happen the world is really fucked...well, the world is really fucked”, so we'll see."
Speaking of The Waldo Moment, he doesn't personally think the episode was a prediction, as such. "In our episode Waldo comes second I think, or third. But he doesn’t win. I was worried that Donald Trump was going to win partly based on the number of people going, 'He's got no chance' It seemed like a really bad case of people overstating – dismissing this as a possibility.
"And I think when I wrote that episode I was clearly being influenced by a general mood that was going on at the time. I don’t think we really predicted anything so much as reacted to something that was already in the ether."
The Radio Times went on to ask Brooker if he plans on making more Black Mirror after season 4 is done.
"I'd like to think we can carry on doing them as long as the world lasts," he replied. "So, probably another six months?"
That sounds pretty generous, to be honest.
Some loved the break in bleakness during Black Mirror's third season for the rather lovely tale of two women discovering their sexuality together and choosing to live eternity in a youthful, technologically-enhanced paradise. Some...not so much. Either way, the standout tale has given series co-creator Charlie Brooker a case of the yips.
"I'm terrified of 'San Junipero' in a way because I think we sort of captured lightning in a bottle there," Brooker said recently, before adding that he "can't really do the same thing again."
Whether you were a fan of the story or not, the episode itself was extremely well directed and the man behind the camera, Owen Harris, has told The Hollywood Reporter that he'd be up for revisiting that world at some point, if Brooker ever fancies it.
"It’d be nice wouldn’t it? It’d be fun to do a San Junipero sequel. But you have to remember that if there is a sequel, Charlie Brooker will be writing it. He’ll go all Black Mirror on it and he might not want to do two happy endings!"
Unfortunately, that won't be happening in the upcoming fourth season arriving later this year, as Harris (Kill Your Friends) has ruled out directing any of the instalments this time around.
"They very kindly asked me about it but I’m already on something else. I love working with them and I would definitely do something again if they wanted. There are certain Black Mirrors where the scripts chime with me and for me. The balance between the Black Mirror discussion about life and technology felt really nicely balanced with the human story that you’re telling in 'San Junipero' and 'Be Right Back.' Charlie writes really lovely pieces like that, so maybe one day I’ll do something else with him." »
While Tom Hardy is a verified movie star, the actor is no stranger to TV. Every so often, he pops up on Peaky Blinders, and he has a crazy-looking new series of his own: Taboo. He created it alongside his father, Chips Hardy, and writer Steven Knight, who wrote Eastern Promises and, not coincidentally, Peaky Blinders. The drama, premiering Tuesday, is also executive-produced by Ridley Scott, and it looks insane. Here's the beginner's guide to everything you need to know about the show! The Plot James Keziah Delaney (Hardy) returns home to London after years traveling the world. He's been gone so long that people, including his own family, thought he must have died on his trip. He's come back to claim his stake on his father's shipping empire, but the family's dirty business tactics affect his life in terrible ways. Oh yeah, and there's black magic involved. The Cast In addition to Tom Hardy, »
- Maggie Pehanick
3 items from 2017
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