Black Mirror is not a show we turn to for optimism, victory, or sex positivity, but Season 5’s “Striking Vipers” somehow has all three. An episode that could have been stigmatizing or even homophobic instead leaves us to unpack a rich friendship and open our minds to new relationships and how to make them work.
“Striking Vipers” starts with college sweethearts Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Theo (Nicole Beharie), and their roommate Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Years later, Danny and Theo are married, and Karl makes a sporadic reappearance in their lives to gift his old bestie the video game Striking Vipers for his birthday.
That night, the old friends enter into Vipers’ simulated reality together (still unclear what the controllers are for), intending to beat the shit out of each other’s avatars – Roxette and Lance (Pom Klementieff and Ludi Lin) – but instead find themselves sharing a passionate kiss within the game.
They play it off as a fluke, which is easy to do since they themselves did nothing. But when they re-enter the game, there’s no time wasted: Their avatars smash faces immediately and have wild, passionate sex. And so begins a virtual affair in which neither man is physically cheating on his significant other, but his mind wanders off to what turns out to be the best sex he’s ever had.
This is where “Vipers” deconstructs and challenges the very language we have to describe what’s going on with Danny and Karl. Is it an affair if you haven’t physically touched anyone? They are quite literally friends with benefits, and have achieved the impossible goal of keeping those benefits entirely separate from their “real” lives. None of the messages they exchange in the real world are sexual; they read exactly like two buddies scheduling video game night, and what happens in the game stays in the game.
And of course, the ultimate question, which Black Mirror gladly turns on its head: “Fellas, is it gay if…” Is it gay if you have crazy intense sex in a simulated reality video game with your bro’s avatar? Is it gay if the avatars have heterosexual sex? Is the whole thing just next-level phone sex – creating physical sensations with virtual scenarios?
Danny and Karl ask themselves these questions and communicate up front. They quickly dismiss any qualms about their sexuality, but doubts resurface as game nights continue, as they grow distracted and pull away from their real-life partners, thinking about nights in the game with Roxette and Lance. This is the most Black Mirror aspect of the entire episode, the notion of technology creating distance between relationships in the physical world, even if Danny and Karl’s friendship grows stronger.
In its greatest twist of all, “Striking Vipers” does not end in devastation.
Danny ceases all physical intimacy with Theo, and only over their heartbreaking anniversary dinner does he realize how precarious his situation has become. There is no one else, he tells her, but he cannot bring himself to say that he still wants her physically. The hidden world of Vipers, which he thought he had compartmentalized, is proving to be his detriment.
The men finally conclude, in a display of surprising emotional maturity (and after an impulsive “I love you” from Karl via Roxette), that they should kiss in real life to see if their chemistry exists outside of Vipers. If they do feel an emotional connection, they’ll reassess their sexualities and relationship. If not, they have to face these unusual circumstances head-on.
The kiss builds up with believable confusion and nerves from both men, and in the end it yields nothing. It’s not, as Danny suggests, “an us thing,” at least not an “us” that doesn’t also include Lance and Roxette. While Danny is ready and willing to reset their friendship, Karl can’t let go of the game. “It’s burrowed right in here,” he says, jabbing at his temple, and then his best friend decides to beat that burrowed thought right out of him.
The brief fight is difficult to watch, harkening to the bullying and physical fights we’ve seen fictional characters and real people suffer due to sexualities that society doesn’t accept or understand. Even the poster for “Striking Vipers” directly recalls Moonlight, in which a young black man hides and ignores his sexuality before quietly accepting it.
In its greatest twist of all, “Striking Vipers” does not end in the devastation of two relationships, but in their successful integration. Once a year, Danny gets to join Karl in Striking Vipers, and Theo gets a night off from married life to explore the desires she admitted to cutting herself off from in order to prioritize their family. The arrangement carries shades of polyamory and open relationships, but with rules and time limits that work – at least for now.
In a generally toothless season, “Vipers” at least provides comfort in its ending. It’s one of Black Mirror’s most hopeful episodes, placing faith in our capacity as humans to adapt to technology mutating relationships. We may already live in a world where the best, most “transcendent” sex a person experiences is alone or involves a screen of some sort, and “Vipers” suggests that this can coexist with established practices like monogamy and marriage. It’s a wild ride that gives us plenty to think about, and a new reference point for unique relationships the world might finally be ready to accept.
Cynthia Erivo Earns Golden Globe Nomination for ‘Harriet’
Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman in Harriet. She's earned a nomination for Best Original Song for 'Stand Up."
She's nominated in the "Best Performance by an Actress In a Motion Picture—Drama" alongside Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Renée Zellwegger and Saoirse Ronan.
Harriet has been a commercial success, but Erivo's casting initially drew criticism as some felt the Nigerian-Brit shouldn't have been cast in the role African-American hero. The film's writer and director, Kasi Lemmons, recently addressed the backlash, in a roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter. ""I felt that we were bearing the culture of the Harriet Tubman story beautifully," she said. "About Cynthia, you just don't get any better," she continued. "She was prepared in every way you could possibly be prepared to play this role. She was prepared physically, emotionally, spiritually to play Harriet Tubman. And she was wonderful."
Erivo was also recently nominated for a Critics Choice Award for her performance.
As for the other categories, it seems despite strong contenders from the continent including Blitz the Ambassador's The Burial of Kojo, no African films were nominated in the Best Foreign Feature category. Lupita Nyong'o who has garnered immense awards buzz for her performance in Us—even winning Best Lead Actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards—is another notable exclusion.
If you're interested, check out the full list of 2020 Golden Globe nominations below.
BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
- The Irishman
- Marriage Story
- The Two Popes
BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
- Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
- Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
- Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
- Charlize Theron, Bombshell
- Renee Zellweger, Judy
BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
- Christian Bale, Ford v. Ferrari
- Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
- Adam Driver, Marriage Story
- Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
- Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
BEST MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
- Dolemite Is My Name
- Jojo Rabbit
- Knives Out
- Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
- Ana de Armas, Knives Out
- Awkwafina, The Farewell
- Cate Blanchett, Where'd You Go Bernadette
- Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart
- Emma Thompson, Late Night
BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
- Daniel Craig, Knives Out
- Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
- Taron Egerton, Rocketman
- Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE
- Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
- Annette Bening, The Report
- Laura Dern, Marriage Story
- Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
- Margot Robbie, Bombshell
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE
- Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood
- Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
- Al Pacino, The Irishman
- Joe Pesci, The Irishman
- Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
- Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite
- Sam Mendes, 1917
- Todd Phillips, Joker
- Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
- Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
- Beautiful Ghost, Cats
- I'm Gonna Love Me Again, Rocketman
- Into the Unknown, Frozen 2
- Spirit, The Lion King
- Stand Up, Harriet
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
- Little Women
- Marriage Story
- Motherless Brooklyn
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
- The Farewell
- Les Miserables
- Pain and Glory
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire
- Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
- Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite
- Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes
- Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
- Steve Zaillian, The Irishman
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
- Frozen 2
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
- The Lion King
- Missing Link
- Toy Story 4
BEST TV SERIES, DRAMA
- Big Little Lies
- The Crown
- Killing Eve
- The Morning Show
BEST ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES, DRAMA
- Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
- Olivia Colman, The Crown
- Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
- Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
- Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show
BEST ACTOR IN A TV SERIES, DRAMA
- Brian Cox, Succession
- Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
- Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
- Tobias Menzies, The Crown
- Billy Porter, Pose
BEST TV SERIES, COMEDY
- The Kominsky Method
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- The Politician
BEST ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES, COMEDY
- Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
- Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- Kirsten Dunst, On Becoming a God in Central Florida
- Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
- Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
BEST ACTOR IN A TV SERIES, COMEDY
- Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
- Bill Hader, Barry
- Ben Platt, The Politician
- Paul Rudd, Living with Yourself
- Ramy Youssef, Ramy
BEST TV MINISERIES OR MOVIE
- The Loudest Voice
BEST ACTRESS IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
- Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable
- Joey King, The Act
- Helen Miren, Catherine
- Merrit Wever, Unbelievable
- Michelle Wiliams, Fosse/Verdon
BEST ACTOR IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
- Christopher Abbott, Catch-22
- Sacha Baron Cohen, The Spy
- Russell Crowe, The Loudest Voice
- Jared Harris, Chernobyl
- Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verson
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
- Patricia Arquette, The Act
- Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
- Toni Collette, Unbelievable
- Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
- Emily Watson, Chernobyl
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
- Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
- Keiran Culkin, Succession
- Andrew Scott, Fleabag
- Stellan Skarsgard, Chernobyl
- Henry Winkler, Barry
JUMANJI; NEXT LEVEL – Review.
Columbia’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a surprisingly inventive and ingenious franchise revamp. It used its IP as a starting point on which to craft an original and crowd-pleasing action comedy with fun characters played by fun actors. Considering the pressures of delivering a sequel for a film that was both an unexpected super-smash and one where there was perhaps more affinity than expected for the characters (as opposed to the core franchise), I’m doubly surprised that Jumanji: The Next Level, opening this Thursday night, may be even better. It keeps what worked about the last film and finds new (and ever-changing) ways to switch up the status quo in order to make what could have been a mere rehash feel fresh and unpredictable.
The experiences of Welcome to the Jungle turned four relative strangers (Spencer, Fridge, Bethany and Martha) into close friends, but their lives have gone on different paths. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is feeling especially adrift and yearning for the confidence and power he briefly felt as Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). As everyone arrives home for the holiday break, Spencer is nowhere to be found, and his friends soon discover that he has willingly jumped back into the world of Jumanji. So, into the game they go, but happenstance also causes Spencer’s grandfather (Danny DeVito) and an old friend (Danny Glover) to get sucked in as well. The kids must survive Jumanji yet again as the elders attempt to come to terms with some old wounds.
Yes, The Next Level plays a similar game. Once again, young kids end up sucked into a video game and forced to survive a video game adventure within their respective adult avatars. As you’ll know if you’ve seen the previews, the “real world” folks aren’t necessarily in the same avatars this time, the mission is more complicated, and two of the human players are senior citizens with their own problems. The film gets off on the right foot right away, both by offering a new status quo (the kids are still relatively close as a result of the first film even as Spenser drifts away) and a poignant new relationship (Eddie and Milo’s issues are both refreshingly specific and movingly relatable) which grounds the fantasy elements.
There is plenty of potentially redundant farce when the game restarts, as poor Martha/Ruby Roundhouse has to explain to Milo and Eddie (now encased in the roles of Mouse and Bravestone) how the game works. But it’s a treat seeing Dwayne Johnson act like Danny DeVito and Kevin Hart has a grand time mimicking an elder Danny Glover. Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain) ends up in the body of Jack Black’s Professor Oberon, and Black pulls off a delicate balancing act with a turn that could have been “problematic.” No spoilers, but Jack Black is the MVP of this franchise, consistently underplaying outlandish characters so as to not rely on stereotypes. Where are Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Spencer? Well, no spoilers, but they show up eventually.
Since Martha (Morgan Turner) is the only human player who initially returns to Jumanji in her previous avatar, Ruby Roundhouse is, by default, the leader this time. All of the adult actors, including newbie Awkwafina, get to have fun in a way that allows them to (repeatedly, think Cloud Atlas) play against type. The marketing has been refreshingly light on spoilers beyond stating the new hook, and as such, there were several unrevealed surprises along the way. While some of the jokes and beats are recycled from the last movie, there is plenty of fresh material. The emotional beats are refreshingly effective, especially the subplot involving Eddie and Milo’s history as former co-owners of a local diner, and both the effects and the action sequences are much improved.
The “Ruby beats up dudes” moments are better choreographed, more coherently edited and less self-congratulatory. A second act beat involving bridges feels like a video game level from hell with the clever staging of a climactic Pixar chase scene. The Next Level is a more expensive picture than Welcome to the Jungle ($120 million versus $90 million), but I would argue, relatively speaking, that the extra money went to fine-tuning the production value as opposed to just offering “more” and “bigger.” The humor in this PG-13 flick is a little darker, but nothing that the kids can’t handle. The screenplay, courtesy of director Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, possess the confidence of a previous blockbuster success while relishing the challenge of justifying a return trip.
Jumanji: The Next Level is a solid line drive to center field. The actors are still fun, the twists on the last film’s formula yield enough justification for another go-around, while the character development works to make it more than just a visceral exercise. It’s handsomely staged, pleasantly colorful, competently directed and cheerfully fashioned with just enough specificity to make sure it doesn’t feel like an assembly line product. It’s not high art, but it’s a darn good sequel to a surprisingly good predecessor. It’s no new classic, but it’s another very good video game movie that isn’t based on a video game. Warts and all, this third Jumanji is at least as good as we’d hope for every franchise-friendly studio biggie in this day and age.
Nadia Buari, Yvonne Nelson, Others Nominated For GMA 2019.
Organizers of the 2019 Ghana Movie Awards have released nominations for the award ceremony scheduled for December 20 at the National Theatre in Accra. Among movies which made the list are Sin City, Gold Coast Lounge, Getting Married, Away Bus, Business As Usual Adoma, A.B.A.D and 40 Looks Good On You
The above mentioned movies are all competing for Best Motion Picture of the year award. Also top actresses Nadia Buari, Yvonne Nelson, Jackie Appiah, Lydia Forson and Christabel Ekeh are among those battling for the Best Actress in a lead role category.
Fingers are also crossed for actors James Gardiner (Business As Usual), Mikki Osei Berko (Away Bus), Quasi Blay (Adoma), Kofi Adjorlolo (A.B.A.D), and Alphonse Menyo (Gold Coast Lounge) who have been nominated for Actor in lead category.
There is also a fierce competition for the Discovery of the year award. Nominees in that category include Raquel Ammah (Gold Coast Lounge), Cina Soul (Gold Coast Lounge), Ophelia Doefia ( Save The Street) Florence Adjei in Adoma, Rosy Meurer ( Sin City) and Quasi Blay (Adoma).
The Ghana Movies Awards is annnual award scheme that celebrates outstanding achievement in Ghana movie industry since 2010. This year's event is expected to be spectacular and an improvement over previous events.
Jackie Appiah, John Dumelo, Christabel Ekeh, Others Starred In ‘2 Days After Friday’
It has become a tradition for Venus Film Production to serve movie lovers each year with festive movies, for families, lovebirds and more to have a good time at the cinemas.
The production company has announced a new movie titled 2 Days After Friday, scheduled to hit cinemas on December 24, 2019. It will be shown mostly at Silverbird Cinemas at Accra Mall and Westhills Mall in Accra, and also Watch and Dine Cinemas in Kumasi, simultaneously at 7pm and 9pm prompt.
In a statement released by the company regarding the movie, it states it a romantic comedy that exposes the hiding truth in relationships, marriages and friendship. All of these truths were revealed within a long weekend vacation, the events that unfold during their time on the vacation will push you to the edge of your seat immediately.
Here’s the full synopsis below:
James Ansah plans a reunion with his childhood friends after returning from his long stay abroad. The reunion was for two at a resort, little did James know that a lot of drama would unfold during the reunion getaway.
Sly, one of James oldest best friend is married to Irene, she is very beautiful, he refuses to allow her to work due to the fear of losing her to another man but would the reunion bring him a lot of perspective on his wife working.
Tony is a gym instructor who is dating Linda an actress, his speciality is with training women and Linda has issues with it but truly has even watched any of his girlfriend’s movie, but what happens when he discovers what kind of job his girlfriend is in.
Ricky is an actor and a colleague of Linda, but he is dating Ivy, with his past experience of failed relationships he is not ready to outdoor his girlfriend to the world, what happens when they both realize their relationship was just on a beneficial basis.
Raymond is a very smooth con-man who is dating a pretty thieve, he tries to hide what he really does from his friends as he was known to be the smartest one amongst them, Benita, his girlfriend doesn’t help for his image, so what would he do.
Meanwhile, James seeks for his date for the reunion, on his return he meets an interesting taxis driver by name Annie who is a graduate, she transformed herself to a beautiful lady worthy of a date for James. During the reunion would James find love or would his friends discover who they are.
Venus Film Production recruited well-known faces, including Jackie Appiah, John Dumelo, Christabel Ekeh, who perfectly blended with emerging actors such as Mary Lazarus, Jessica Larynor, Haille Sumney, Anthony Woode, Kweku Elliot, Mofe Duncan and Quasi Blay Jr.
Tickets are available at Silverbird Cinemas at Accra Mall and Westhills Mall and Watch and Dine Mall, Kumasi.
Ed Sheeran Crowned UK “Artiste of the Decade”.
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