Thursday, 19 October 2017

Video: Gugu Mbatha Raw Loved "Hamilton" Even More the Second Time

Gugu Mbatha Raw Loved "Hamilton" Even More the Second Time

 Published on 18 Aug 2017

"Black Mirror: San Junipero" is streaming now on Netflix. This segment aired on the KTLA 5 Morning News, August 18, 2017.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Video: 69th Emmy Awards: Backstage with the Black Mirror team: San Junipero.

69th Emmy Awards: Backstage LIVE! with the team from Black Mirror: San Junipero.

Published on 17 Sep 2017

Marc Istook speaks with Charlie Brooker and the team from Black Mirror: San Junipero about their Emmys win.

69th Emmys: Black Mirror: San Junipero Press Room Interview

Published on 17 Sep 2017

The team from Black Mirror: San Junipero give a press room interview after their Emmy win for Outstanding
Television Movie.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is "Delighted" That Queer Women Love "San Junipero"

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is "Delighted" That Queer Women Love "San Junipero"

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is "Delighted" That Queer Women Love "San Junipero"

Netflix / Via
In the two weeks since Netflix released Season 3 of Black Mirror, countless tweets and Tumblr posts have been dedicated to the romance between Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) in the fourth episode, titled "San Junipero." (Or, to put it more succinctly, queer women are losing their shit over it.)
Much of the adoration stems from the fact that queer female characters are rarely the romantic leads in mainstream popular culture and they are even more infrequently given truly happy endings. Oh, and "San Junipero" also features a bisexual woman of color whose bisexuality is overtly — and refreshingly — addressed.
"I'm just so delighted by the response," Gugu Mbatha-Raw told BuzzFeed News during an interview for her upcoming movie Miss Sloane. "It's really fun, but I like the fact it has that duality of something that's emotional but also transcends the labeling of society."
In her eyes, the reason Kelly and Yorkie's arc works so well is because Black Mirror writer Charlie Brooker didn't set out to tell a story about queer women; he set out to tell a story about the connection between two people. "The exciting thing is the ... women just happen to be lesbian and bisexual — they just happen to be that, but it's not about that," Mbatha-Raw said. "For me, I think the same thing about stories that touch on race or gender. I think we're hopefully at a place where you can have challenging, inspiring stories about human beings regardless of who you are and what your sexual orientation is. To be able to have that is progress, I hope."
Laurie Sparham / Netflix
While she wanted people of all orientations to fall as deeply in love with Kelly and Yorkie as she did, it's caught Mbatha-Raw off guard that some viewers don't necessarily believe the ending is a happy one. (Spoiler alert: After they die, Kelly and Yorkie live together for youthful eternity in the titular town.) "I guess it depends on your perspective," she said with a shrug. "Having that kind of afterlife— maybe some people would find that disturbing. I don't know. That's the complexity of Charlie Booker's writing and his genius. It's nice to work on things that have many layers to them."
When asked if she personally believes the women are living happily ever after, Mbatha-Raw laughed big, smiled bigger, and said, "Oh my god, come on!"

These TV Shows Are Finally Giving Queer Women Happy Endings

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The story of San Junipero: why Charlie Brooker's Emmy-winning vision of Heaven will live forever

Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in San Junipero

In January 2015 the humourist Mallory Ortberg summed up Charlie Brooker’s tech-anthology series Black Mirror as “What if phones, but more so?”. The science fiction show focuses on how high technology and low entertainment can magnify our flaws and destroy our relationships.
We greet innovation with open arms, says Brooker, only to find ourselves embracing disaster. But among the cynicism, one episode offers a more optimistic outlook, and that is two-time Emmy winner San Junipero.
The episode was hailed as a classic immediately for the way that it combines Black Mirror’s trademark futuristic vision with a beautifully told love story. And, unique in Black Mirror history, it offers a happy ending. Here, the machine that gives the story its science-fiction edge doesn’t destroy our humanity; it offers a sort of mechanical heaven for its users.
That was a deliberate break from the norm for creator and writer Charlie Brooker; an attempt, he told Vanity Fair, to “upend the notion of what a Black Mirror episode was”. It was the first episode Brooker wrote for Netflix after the show left Channel 4, and he didn’t want to be predictably nihilistic, nor settle into too strict a formula.
So San Junipero became a “palate cleanser”, a reinvention that offered a different vision of what the show could do. It was Black Mirror’s first period piece, its first American-set story and the first one to show more than a tiny glimpse of hope for the future. Yet at the same time it packs in enough philosophy and nuance - and enough gut punches - to avoid any suggestion that Brooker has gone soft.
San Junipero’s initial spark came to Brooker from two clashing ideas. The first was tackling the question of how Black Mirror could possibly do a period-set episode. Brooker wanted to subvert expectations of viewers expecting a focus on new phones or computer programmes.
Mackenzie Davis in San Junipero
Yet time travel per se is too far-fetched for the show’s relatively grounded tone. The answer he landed upon was to set his story in an immense and convincing simulation, one that’s more advanced than existing virtual reality software but not impossibly out of reach.
At the same time, Brooker read about nostalgia therapy, a promising treatment for anxiety and even dementia. The therapy uses happy memories and recreations of the past to alleviate current suffering, which sounds counter intuitive but has proved effective.
Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker accepting one of his two Emmys for San Junipero CREDIT: REUTERS
“It’s kind of unusual that we’d approach a story from a relatively dry starting point like that,” he said of the process. “Usually we’re starting just with a dilemma.”
Yet that dry start led to Black Mirror’s most emotional episode. The period setting gave Brooker the simulation; the nostalgia therapy peopled it with the dead and dying, escaping to a better place for a few hours.
Thus the two heroines are not what they seem. Mousy, shy Yorkie (Halt & Catch Fire’s Mackenzie Davis) and flamboyant, fascinating Kelly (Belle’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw) meet in a 1980s club in a small California holiday town by the sea and hit it off.
Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
The twist is that both have already lived for decades and are now approaching a crunch point. Will they die and leave their consciousness in San Junipero permanently, or continue to make only brief visits until the end?
Yorkie, whose character has been in a coma for 40 years in the real world, is ready to rush in. But Kelly – a widow and bereaved mother in reality (played by Denise Burse, who worked closely with Mbatha-Raw to make Kelly feel consistent across the decades) – is hesitant.
“It’s that thing of taking an 80-year-old voice and transporting them back to the time of their youth, but where attitudes have changed,” executive producer Annabel Jones explains. “It’s not just go back and live your life again, but go back and live your life through different attitudes and different social norms, which is fascinating.”
The result is an emotional and, at least until we realise it’s a simulation, not obviously science fiction story. Only on a second viewing does the viewer pick up on all the verbal clues that something isn’t quite as it seems. A surfer dude droning on about his operations might not have been injured while getting radical after all; perhaps he’s old and sick. A nerdy guy talks about video games in the past tense rather than the present, suggesting that time travel element. There are unexplained casual remarks about “full timers” and a Cinderella-like midnight deadline. And we miss the clues initially because the love story holds our attention.
Though Brooker originally conceived the story with a heterosexual couple, he thought twice about his own assumptions and decided to make his lovers women. “I think it gives it an extra resonance,” he told EW, “because they couldn’t have legally got married in [the real] 1987, so we’re gifting them that in this world, in this story of second chances. That adds a whole extra subtext about reliving your life and exploring things you didn’t have a chance to do.”
Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
“It’s about human beings and love and souls,” says Mbatha-Raw. “And it’s not about [sexuality] being a problem. That wasn’t the focus of the story and I think that’s actually really refreshing.” 
The upbeat tone also moves the show away from the “dead lesbians” TV trope, where a disproportionate number of lesbian characters are killed off tragically onscreen (Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lexa in The 100 are notorious examples). Brooker conceived the happy ending partially to subvert that trope – though technically both characters do die to achieve their idyll.
The film shot in and around Cape Town, which episode director Owen Harris says allowed him to “create a version of California that felt slightly heightened because of this slightly strange quality.
"That heightened feel is only emphasised by the on-the-nose use of Belinda Carlisle’s hit Heaven Is A Place On Earth – a song the production cleared before doing anything else. “I would have been absolutely distraught if we couldn’t have done it,” Brooker said of Carlisle’s song.
Denise Burse and Annabel Davis as the elder Yorkie and Kelly
“It’s also a wry joke in a way, that heaven is literally a place on earth, as we reveal the absolute cold reality of what’s going on [where the womens’ minds are now stored in tiny data clips and moved around by robots]. Hopefully it leaves people with a smile on their face, which is an alien experience after watching Black Mirror.”
One has to wonder, as that robot tends the San Junipero databank, whether the ending is entirely uncomplicated in its happiness. Even Davis said, “I think it is joyful, but there’s all these little undercurrents communicating that there’s darkness under this joy.”
Fans have wondered if the plane seen flying overhead in the final scene means that there are other parts of the San Junipero world that consciousnesses can visit, and how wide a world the simulation offers. But the deeper questions are even bigger. Does San Junipero play host to true consciousness or just a simulacrum of it after death?
Like Hugh Jackman’s Robert Angier in The Prestige, are we watching the survival of a copy or the real thing? Maybe the entire promise of ‘survival’ is just a sop to ease the distress of the dying. And what does San Junipero mean for religious believers? Might they embrace it as a guaranteed afterlife or see it as a threat? The philosophical implications are endless, and barely developed. No wonder there are calls for a sequel.
Harris, who has worked with Brooker twice now, advises that fans be careful what they wish for, saying “Charlie Brooker might not want to do two happy endings!" Yet Brooker himself has considered it.
“I think we almost might do it in a completely different form if we were doing a straight sequel,” he said. “Maybe not even as a normal episode. It’s difficult because I don’t think we’d revisit those characters. That felt like such a story and we wouldn’t want to open it up again.”
Such reticence comes as a relief. Black Mirror has never been hesitant about showing lives ruined by technology, but surely Yorkie and Kelly, at least, should be allowed to survive in their private little heaven. As its awards success shows, their story gives us all hope.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Black Mirror Stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis Shine at Emmys 2017

Black Mirror Stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis Shine at Emmys 2017

Black Mirror Stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis Shine at Emmys 2017
Gugu Mbatha-Raw shimmers on the red carpet as she arrives at the 2017 Emmy Awards held at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday (September 17) in Los Angeles.
The 34-year-old actress was joined on the red carpet by her Black Mirror co-star Mackenzie Davis who went bold in a bright green dress.
Black Mirror is nominated for Outstanding Television Movie at tonight’s awards show.
FYI: Mackenzie is wearing a Delpozodress, Tiffany ring, Anito Ko earrings, and Nicolas Kirkwood heels while carrying a Tyler Ellis clutch. Gugu is wearing a Hugo Boss dress
and Fernando Jorge jewelry.