Monday, September 25, 2017

Black Mirror / San Junipero wins at Emmys, as Charlie Brooker urges crowd to 'physically make love'

Netflix's sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror took two awards at last night's Primetime Emmys, with show creator Charlie Brooker winning both Outstanding Television Movie and an Outstanding Writing award for the episode San Junipero, a futuristic love story.
In an amusing acceptance speech, Brooker said that many Black Mirror fans had seen parallels between its dark, dystopian satire and current events. 
“I have heard 2017 described as being trapped, like being trapped in one long unending ‘Black Mirror’ episode,” he said. “But I like to think if I had written it, it wouldn’t be quite so on the nose with all the Nazis and hate.”
The winning episode, San Junipero, was a stark departure from the show's usual blend of sci-fi and horror. Starring Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, it offered an optimistic vision of how technology can help deal with aging and loneliness.  “San Junipero was a story about love – and love will defeat hatred, love will win," Brooker told the Emmys audience.
"But it might need a bit of help," he continued, before earning a laugh from the crowd with a surreal request: "Maybe, if all the beautiful people in this auditorium could start to physically make love with each other – or yourselves – on the count of three, this world would be a far better place. Three, two, one, go!” 

Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Black Mirror: San Junipero CREDIT: NETFLIX
Speaking to the Telegraph in February, Brooker said that writing the episode "terrified" him, as it was so different to his usual metier. "I was worried about it when writing it, because I've not really written a romance before," he said.
The British drama moved to Netflix for its latest series, after two series on Channel 4. "San Junipero was the first one I wrote for the Netflix season, and I was consciously trying to clear the decks on what Black Mirror was," Brooker said. "And the world is in a place at the moment where I think maybe people appreciate things that aren't so unremittingly horrible."
Other winners at last night's awards ceremony included The Handmaid's Tale, which won five awards, and Saturday Night Live, which won four.

Black Mirror, season 3, San Junipero, review / 'Charlie Brooker's dark sci-fi has never felt bigger'

Black Mirror, season 3, San Junipero, review: 'Charlie Brooker's dark sci-fi has never felt bigger'

Robbie Collin, film critic 
21 OCTOBER 2016 • 7:19PM

With its move to Netflix from Channel 4, its ad breaks duly shed, and its season length doubled to an invitingly bingeable six-pack, Black Mirror has never felt bigger. Though conceptually speaking, Charlie Brooker’s dark science-fiction anthology series has always been a heavyweight.
Tall tales of technology that lay bare human frailties and foibles can hit their targets with wincing accuracy irrespective of budget – though here, in its third season, you sense a newly cinematic spring in the show’s step, as if its visual ambitions are suddenly able to keep pace with its narrative zap.
For the most part, San Junipero takes place in a fictional Californian resort town in what a radio broadcast chirpily informs us is late 1987. (Brooker has already said he deliberately set his opening episode in America to antagonise longstanding fans who complained the show had sold out.) We’re eased in via a luxurious descending crane shot of a cobalt convertible pulling up outside a fast food joint, while Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth fizzes on the stereo. Between its high-spirited occupants we spy a demure 20-something on the pavement, rocking the Scarlett-Johansson-in-Ghost-World look: this is Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis), the Cinderella of the piece.

San Junipero is a party town, though there’s something reticent about Yorkie’s mood, almost as if there’s somewhere else – quieter, less bustling – she’d far rather be. That begins to change, though, with the arrival of Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a life-and-soul type whose wide, flashing eyes promise the kind of fun you could normally only imagine. After meeting in a nightclub, the two women’s talk quickly turns flirtatious – although for reasons left initially unexplained, they only have until midnight  before Kelly has to be… well, somewhere else.
The entire episode drives towards a grand unveiling of what this romance, and this place, actually are – although Brooker drops so many hints in the script, along with certain soundtrack choices during a period-accurate makeover montage, that the game’s all but given away too early. (The central conceit has already been extensively explored in science fiction, not least by Iain M Banks.)

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Kelly, with Mackenzie Davis as Yorkie CREDIT: DAVID DETTMANN/NETFLIX
The director is Owen Morris, whose previous Black Mirror episode – the second-season opener Be Right Back, with Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson – featured one of the series’ most persuasively complex portraits of a romantic partnership. By comparison, Yorkie and Kelly rarely ring true – their dialogue might as well come with the disclaimer A Straight Man Speculates About Lesbians, although a wryly allusive cut away from a love scene to waves wetly lapping at the beach feels more romantic in context than you might expect.
But what holds your interest is Mbatha-Raw – no surprise to those of us who fell for her in Amma Asante’s Belle and Gina Prince-Bythewood’sBeyond the Lights – who brings enough vivacity and conviction to what’s essentially a cipher of a role for the proudly tearjerking ending to land with a satisfying emotional thwack.
Even a veiled explanation as to why would risk blundering into spoiler territory, so let’s instead just applaud Black Mirror’s admirable willingness, for a show that’s always felt rational to its core, to juggle the kind of existential concepts that tend to be the preserve of the religiously inclined. San Junipero may drop the odd metaphysical bean-bag along the way, but its showmanship is beyond reproach.



Here’s How To Look Like Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s ‘Elle’ Cover

Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Photo by Paola Kudacki
Poster by T.A.

Here’s How To Look Like Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s ‘Elle’ Cover

Dana Oliver
10/23/2014 08:01 am ET Updated Oct 23, 2014

If you’re not familiar with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, we’re pretty sure this magazine cover featuring the English actress will leave a lasting impression.
After Mbatha-Raw’s breakthrough performance in 2013’s “Belle” and her anticipated turn as a young singer in “Beyond the Lights,” it’s great to see such a talented star get her shine on for Elle magazine’s annual “Women In Hollywood” issue.
Obviously, there’s no dimming the 31-year-old’s light as she stuns in the boldest makeup look of the eight November covers. Dressed in a black high-collar Calvin Klein Collection jacket and sparkly jewels by Harry Winston, Chopard and David Yurman, Mbatha-Raw’s bronze cat eye and glossy red-orange lips are spellbinding.
You don’t have to be a big-screen actress to go glam like Mbatha-Raw. Scroll down to shop the four makeup products used for this cover (all by L’Oreal Paris — could she be their next spokesperson?) along with tips to nail the look.
gugu mbatha raw
1. Bronze eyeshadow. Use a small flat brush to apply this highly-pigmented shadow to your lids. Then brighten up your eyes by gently pressing a gold hue into the inner corners. Get the look with Colour Riche Dual Effects in Treasured Bronze.

2. Black eyeliner. Winged eyeliner isn’t easy. Luckily, we have this 5-step tutorial that will help you to master the classic flick. Get the look with Telescopic Precision Liquid Eyeliner in Black.
3. Black mascara. Skip the faux lashes and work with what you’ve got! All it takes is a few strokes on the top and bottom lashes to intensify this gilded eye makeup. Get the look with Voluminous Butterfly Intenza Mascara in 380 Blackest Black.
4. Red lipstick. Finally, the pièce de résistance: a glossy red lip. Opt for a moisturizing formula that combines shine and a bold hue. Get the look with Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Endless Red.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Has a Lot to Celebrate

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Has a Lot to Celebrate

February 14, 2017

She’s played a lobbyist, a spy, and a time-traveling computer-simulated bisexual. This month, actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes on her most transformative role yet: feather duster.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw has stopped talking. She’s not making eye contact anymore, either.
The actress is drawing me—one of many specialized interests she brings up during our conversation. Like when she refers to her hometown in Oxfordshire, England, as the Shire. “L.A. is like Mordor,” she explains. “You come back to the Shire to replenish.” And then, in case I still thought Mbatha-Raw was worried about impressing me, she adds, “My saxophone has been languishing there. It needs to be back in my life.” It’s like she’s trying to out-nerd the Lord of the Rings references with band stories.
She’s in New York a week before Christmas—a stopover to see friends, have lunch with a director, and check out Othello, the Off-Broadway show no one else can manage to get tickets to. She has a good in: The guy who plays Othello, David Oyelowo, stars opposite her in J. J. Abrams’s new Cloverfield movie, out this fall. Mbatha-Raw is also in one of the few reboots Abrams isn’t responsible for: Beauty and the Beast (March 17), in which she plays a French maid turned singing and dancing feather duster. Portraying a Swiffer is a nice break from the dark (and moving) roles she’s taken recently, including a victim of gun violence in Miss Sloane and a terminally ill bisexual woman who becomes trapped in a computer simulation on Black Mirror. “I love tragedy, but you can’t do it all the time—it’s way too draining,” she says.
Bathing suit by Eres | Heels by Dsquared2

But about that sketch: “I find it very relaxing to draw people’s faces.” Even during an interview. “I’m making your eyes look really demonic,” she says, adding a perfunctory “by accident.” In two minutes, she’s turned a blank napkin into a realistic portrait and turned the tables on her interviewer. The nerd’s got talent.

This story originally appeared in the March 2017 issue with the title “Lady Gugu.”

'Dearest Teddy' / Sylvia Plath's love letters to Ted Hughes published for the first time

Sylvia Plath

'Dearest Teddy': Sylvia Plath's love letters to Ted Hughes published for the first time

22 SEPTEMBER 2017 • 10:00PM
Fifteen passionate love letters from Sylvia Plath to Ted Hughes are to be published for the first time, throwing new light on one of the most famous marriages of the 20th century.
Plath wrote the letters when she was studying at Cambridge University, fresh from their honeymoon. They had been apart for a few days, a separation she described as “this huge whistling hole in my guts and heart”.

Elisabeth Moss on life after Mad Men / ‘I don't take acting that seriously. I'm a Valley girl’

Elisabeth Moss
Photo by Van Sarki

‘I don't take acting that seriously. I'm a Valley girl’: Elisabeth Moss on life after Mad Men

From Mad Men to High-Rise, the actor has made her mark playing earnest, tightly wound women. So how come she’s known as the class clown?

Tom Shone
Saturday 12 March 2016 09.00 GMT

Elisabeth Moss gets people coming up to her all the time and asking how she’s doing. Is she sad Mad Men ended? Was it hard? The last day of shooting was, she tells them. The producers saved all the scenes in the ending montage until the very end, so all the actors would be there that day. “It was like, ‘All right, so and so is up’ and everyone would trudge to set and two more actors would wrap. You would be crying. Walk away. Weep some more. ‘All right, it’s Vinny [Kartheiser]now. Let’s go,’ and everybody would go. It happened six, seven times that day. I left and I went home. I felt proud. We had wrapped. We were done. Then, almost a year later, it starts airing and all of a sudden everyone is asking you about it again, and everyone is going through their own cathartic experience of it ending. You are going, ‘Right. OK. I’ve got to get back there.’ I had done four movies since then, and I was doing a Broadway play at the time. They were going through their own grieving process. You are like, ‘I know. It is awful. It is sad. Right. It is reallysad…’”

Moss laughs at her predicament – commiserating on behalf of people commiserating with her, even though she herself is not particularly sad – which seems born of her particular mixture of celebrity, breeziness and politeness. She has a hard enough time keeping the episodes of Mad Men straight in her head. “You could have asked me what we shot last week or what happened in the last episode. I don’t remember. I can’t tell you how many times I have been online to check the little plot summaries to remind myself. I swear to God.”
In person, Moss is ebullient, flip, much more so than she is on screen, where she excels at quiet, tightly wound characters who suppress their feelings to get on with the job: earnest, driven Peggy, the timid secretary turned ace copywriter in Mad Men. Or her New Zealand detective in Jane Campion’s superb Top Of The Lake, returning to her home town to investigate the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl, antennae twitching, steeling herself against her own traumas. On set, though, she is known as a joker, always the ringleader in games of Heads Up! – a charades app – on the set of Mad Men, whose cast voted her class clown. She once rolled up to the set to ask them, “Do you remember when I used to come in and bring you assholes drinks and leave, and that was my job?” Method she is not.

As Peggy in Mad Men. Photograph: Rex

“Feel free to write that I am interesting and brooding, and very mysterious – I would be happy with that,” she says after turning up at a restaurant in Brooklyn wearing what she calls a “horrible outfit”: black sweatpants adorned with what appear to be silver leopard paw prints, Ugg boots and a cream-coloured turtleneck, all topped off with a tangle of sunny blond hair. “My work outfit,” she says, “I prefer to be messy. I like to have my hair messed up. I like to be covered in dirt. That is when I am having fun. I am like a pig in shit.
“I wish I was super-serious, anguished,” she adds. “I see those actors and I am like, oh God, they are so cool and they seem so interesting. I don’t take acting that seriously. I love my work, but I do not think that I am saving the world, and I do not think that I am doing anything brave by accessing emotions that I might have for roles. I am a Valley girl.”
As we speak, New York is bracing itself for a snowstorm. The bar begins to fill with refugees from nearby offices. Moss orders a beer and a salad, although she barely touches the beer. She’s not much of a drinker. When director James Vanderbilt called Mad Men creator Matt Weiner to find out what it was like working with Moss, before casting her opposite Robert Redford in Truth, about the professional unravelling of American newscaster Dan Rather, Weiner told him two things: “Elisabeth never gives a bad take and she is a rubbish drinker.” When not working, she will hole up in her apartment on the Upper West Side for days, weeks, at a time, binge-watching ScandalParenthoodNashville or The Good Wife. “Like, not leave the house,” she says. “I get sad anytime anybody makes me leave. I get pissy. I really do.”

In Top Of The Lake. Photograph: Rex

“You can always find Elisabeth around Japanese food,” says Jane Campion, who wrote and directed Top Of The Lake, for which Moss won a Golden Globe. After the 2013 Emmys, for which the show got eight nominations, Moss took Campion and her production team to her favourite sushi restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, ordering for everyone. “She was looking after us,” Campion tells me. “Whenever she likes something, be it food or clothes or shoes, she orders heaps of it. I remember her apartment in New Zealand was piled with boxes. She does girly-girl very well.”
At the same time, Campion says, Moss “isn’t afraid to say no. I think that’s really important for a woman in this industry: not to be afraid of upsetting somebody.” Recently, Moss pitched to a series of production companies a project she had been working on for a couple of years, based on a book she had optioned (she won’t say which), with herself attached to star. “We were told by more than one place that it was too female, which was shocking,” Moss says. “The feedback is, like, oh, we are not sure, because it is two females… I actually asked if it was legal for them to say that.”
These two sides to Moss – the lover of shoes and the stubborn truth-teller – are the twin threads that made Peggy Olsen, in the words of New York magazine, “the most GIF-ed feminist icon of all time”. Now, the first seeds of Moss’s post-Mad Men career are beginning to bear fruit. This month sees the release of both Vanderbilt’s Truth and Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1975 fable High-Rise, about the disintegration of a tower block into anarchy. The book is Ballard in full suburban-apocalypse mode, and the film, almost a period piece, is a wild, chaotic mash-up of Kubrick and Mike Leigh, with lots of tight-lipped social climbers and petty bureaucrats finding their inner caveman amid the shag-pile rugs. Moss plays the wife of a thuggish TV documentarian who leads the tower block in revolution: cocktail glass held aloft, smoking through her pregnancy, eyes averted from her husband’s philandering.

 In new film High-Rise. Photograph: Aidan Monaghan/Studio Canal
“There was something about Helen’s innocence and her lost quality, her odd whistling-in-the-dark thing,” Moss says, describing what drew her to the role. “Whereas other characters go crazy, and the building brings out the worst in them, I feel like it actually brings out the best in her. She becomes a happier person. She finds love. She gets out of her apartment for what you feel is the first time in probably a while.”

For a moment, I wonder if we have seen the same film. Her part looked to me like Ballard’s vision of a suburban housewife gone to hell. But Moss is relentlessly upbeat in her assessment of other people’s characters and motives. It’s a quality you get from her performances, too; that slight blinkeredness that allows her to walk into the lion’s den and tame some otherwise aggressive, borderline abusive alpha males: Don Draper in Mad Men, Peter Mullan’s hot-tempered, domineering patriarch in Top Of The Lake. She’s the Brute Whisperer. She laughs when I point this out.
“I love that,” she says. “That is awesome. Totally. You are like, ‘There are nice men out there. Doesn’t she know?’ What is weird is, I haven’t really had a lot of [brutes] in my life. I find I like the decent ones. But, for dramatic purposes, it is far more interesting to play the dark side of anything. I do think that there is something about an intelligent, strong woman, who also needs to be taken care of, that will attract a certain kind of man sometimes. And that relationship is interesting on screen. Bad relationships are more interesting than good relationships to watch.”

With ex-husband Fred Armisen. Photograph: Rex

In real life, Moss married Saturday Night Live comedian Fred Armisen in 2009, after being introduced to him when Don Draper actor Jon Hamm hosted the show. They separated just eight months later, and Armisen said on the Howard Stern show in 2013 that he had been a “terrible husband”. He later went even further, suggesting to podcaster Marc Maron that he thought he had married Peggy: “I was getting to know the other people from the show and her, and it was very, very exciting, and I only got caught up in that part of it. I have a problem with intimacy, where all of a sudden, there’s a real person there… and now, there’s a person behind this. It’s not the girl on Mad Men.”
When I ask Moss about the marriage, she sounds very much as if she is still looking for her part in it. “God, I learned so much that I am still sifting through it. I was young. I was 27, and certainly I am still young, but now, looking back, six years ago, it seems young. I didn’t know everything about what I wanted, and what I was looking for. I didn’t know everything about what you were supposed to have. With time, I think, you learn who you are, and what you need.”
Moss was raised, and remains, a Scientologist. She has long since given up defending the religion, speaking with the honest conviction of someone who knows their own belief to be pure-hearted. “It is weird for me to be put in the position where I am like, ‘No, I can’t. I don’t really want to talk about this.’ You feel kind of like, I am a nice person who likes to talk about stuff. I also get the curiosity. I get the fascination. I become fascinated with things that are none of my business as well. I am just fascinated when someone breaks up with somebody. I want to know all about it. I am very interested in what people are wearing, and all of that kind of thing, but you have a right to your privacy.”

Dress: Marc Jacobs. Jacket and knit (top): Fendi. Photograph: Van Sarki for the Guardian. Styling: Priscilla Kwateng. Hair: Tommy Buckett. Makeup: Daniel Martin at the Wall Group
There is a strain of optimism to Moss that one could easily see leaving her open to exploitation by others, even as it lends vulnerability to her performances. “I like characters who have two different things going on, whether it is Robin from Top Of The Lake having that strength juxtaposed with the vulnerability and being in pain, or whether it is Peggy from Mad Men with her naivety and her sort of idiocy at times, combined with her intelligence and courage really to do what she did at that time. I felt with Helen [her character in High-Rise], it was the innocent, naive quality combined with this sort of bravery and optimism.”
This juxtaposition – the feeling of being slightly out of kilter with her environment, or time, that made Peggy so compelling – goes back, in part, to Moss’s childhood, growing up in what used to be a hippy enclave in Los Angeles. Her mother was a harmonica player in a blues band, her father a music manager who was “always on tour with clients. My earliest memories are at the Blue Note here in New York, or backstage at different theatres or different clubs, dressing rooms. We grew up with musicians coming over, jamming. We had tons of instruments. So holidays were always like, 50 people would come over and there would be a jam session with everyone playing jazz. Not rock. When I was 12, I didn’t know about Nirvana or Oasis or any of those people. I was listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Gershwin. I was raised with a lot of classical music. I loved ballet. I was a bun head for 10 years.”

 With Cate Blanchett in Truth. Photograph: Rex

Her parents later separated – her father now lives in Florida – but she remains very close to her mother, who lives nearby in New York, and her brother, who is 18 months younger. Music, too, remains very important. Moss often has her headphones on between takes, partly because it stops people talking to her. She listened to a lot of Max Richter and Icelandic band Sigur Rós during Mad Men (“That is my go-to, if I need to go to a darker place”). For the most wrenching scene in Top Of The Lake, where she recalls being raped, she charged herself up on Eminem. “Really loud. For some reason I was like, this is what I need, and it got me to this place that I needed to be in.”
“I would often see her with her headset on,” Campion recalls, who was persuaded to cast Moss after seeing the audition tape of that scene. “It was remarkable for being so quiet. She was very simple. As you’re watching it, you’re thinking, oh, it doesn’t look like she’s trying. I just found myself really interested in watching all the way through this gentle but quiet, obviously interior performance. It was coming from the inside out. Sometimes you get to the end of a project and you think, ‘I don’t really think they have much more to show me.’ With her, at the end of about six hours, I was still really interested. She’s a little bit like a Mona Lisa. There’s a lot that she’s not showing you.”
They first started talking about a second series at Moss’s favourite sushi restaurant after the Emmys, and continued the conversation while she was shooting Truth in Sydney. “We met a few times for dinner there, and really we just gossiped – what we’re doing, family, you know?” Campion says. But Moss’s one condition for doing the series was simple: take her character to an even darker place. “I think it’s to do with a little lamp that is switched on inside Elisabeth,” Campion says. “I think it always shines brightest in the dark.” She laughs. “When I had an opportunity, I really put her through it.”

As the president’s daughter in The West Wing. Photograph: Mitch Haddad/Warner Bros/Getty Images

Top Of The Lake starts shooting in Sydney this month. The weekend after we meet, Moss is due to begin work with her dialect coach, to help dust off her kiwi accent: she tends to wipe clean after she is done with a part. It may be what allows her such blitheness as she dances with the devil on screen – that and Sigur Rós. One track, in particular, has seen her through everything – Mad Men, Top Of The Lake, High-Rise. “It might be my favourite Sigur Rós song,” she says, grabbing her phone to look for it. “I think it is this one. Hold on. No, it’s not that one. Oh. OK, I know what it is, but it is not on an album. It is really long, like nine minutes long.”
She flicks her iPhone and finds the track: Festival on Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. “It is the one with the greatest build of all time,” she says. “I have never heard anything like it. That one was good for Top Of The Lake. So good. The singer would probably be the number one person I want to meet in my life. He has been with me through so much. I just think he is amazing. The whole group is amazing. I have seen them, like, five times… Oh, I would die.”
It’s time to wrap up. The snow is beginning to whip at the windows, and it is dark outside. But Moss could not be happier. Inside, looking out at the storm, is her favourite place to be.