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Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones, Mr. Robot [Season 1]: follows Elliot – a Cyber Security engineer by day / social vigilante hacker by night – as he’s recruited by a shady anarchist called ‘Mr Robot’. Firstly, the shows gambles everything on a wild main character: an anxious & depressed, socially inept, lonely, mentally unstable, and unsympathetic junkie-hacker! The central plot is told through his paranoid point-of-view, where we hear his thoughts – including some beautiful IT snobbery: “he owns a blackberry” “he likes the music of Josh Groban” / “stupid Marvel movies”. While Malek’s lead performance is outstanding, he’s not alone as the entire show is very well-cast: everyone has a unique look and set of traits & skills – Wallstrom and Slater in particular get a lot of time to shine. The show also looks phenomenal; it’s beautifully shot with lots of bold & striking imagery, vibrant colours, and unorthodox camerawork; like low-level & asymmetrical shots, strong leading lines… you could screenshot almost any moment and hang it on your wall. In fact, the production is so slick that it feels more like a 10-hour long movie. Every character, every sub-plot, almost every scene feels like it’s saying something about our modern way of living; how insipid tech is permeating our lives, and how ‘the masses’ are being exploited. As someone who works in IT I found myself nerding out over accuracy and tech savviness of the show; Hell, even the episode titles like “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov” are smart and cool. As the season marches forward viewers are rewarded with compelling story arcs, Shakespearian twists and turns, and scathing critiques of modern life, big business, & corporate culture. It’s very anti-establishment, and isn’t dumbed down in the slightest. Insightful, intelligent, and crammed with current issues & ‘news story’ plots, Mr Robot is the kind of show that’s setting the bar in terms of style and substance.

Score: 9/10

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

 

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The Master: a veteran returns home and is eventually taken under the wing of a charismatic charlatan. To get the ‘acting’ chat out of the way, Joaquin Phoenix turns in a career-defining performance of a multi-layered borderline perverted post-war wayward career alcoholic who is – we’re led to believe – physically and mentally disabled – it’s an acting accomplishment of the highest order. PSH is good, but – and I know it’s ridiculous to say – you always expect big shouty performances like this from him now. The rest of the cast are top dollar, but only appear for minutes at a time. The film itself is rather vague; part psychology, part character study, part love story, part drama, part coming-of-age, part religious historical… it feels very unplanned and ill-though out. It borrows some major themes similarities from There Will Be Blood, and to a lesser extent harks back to Magnolia, and the similarities between “The Cause” and Scientology’s beginnings, and leader, are about as subtle as a brick to the face – it was almost silly to not name it. The Master is a strange one: the subject matter’s interesting, the acting’s top-drawer, it’s beautifully shot (so much so that plenty scenes resemble ‘art’ more than ‘cinema’) … but the way in which it’s edited, and the often bizarre content of many scenes’ make it infuriatingly alienating. By the end of this 140 minute endurance test, I was long disinterested. It’s a shame that some magnificent performances are upstaged and drowned out by such irreverent cinematic and narrative wankery (for the second time in two weeks!).

Score: 3/10