So I recently watched: Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Bandersnatch is probably a first of its kind Interactive Movie, like a computer game, in which the viewer can choose the actions of the protagonist and some other characters by choosing from 2 options. That choice changes the outcome of the scene and it could lead to a different movie ending if you had chosen something else. It has been made in such a way that based on your choices, it can go from a sad morbid ending, to totally whacky scenes, and to a slightly different sad morbid ending, to something which might not make sense at all.
Although the premise of the movie is not as interesting as other Black Mirror episodes, it is certainly a movie from the future. The mere concept of allowing viewers to choose the actions, couldn’t have been possible with traditional TV or Movie experience. Netflix and other streaming services allow it to work and full credits to Netflix for bringing this up. It might set a trend of more such movies, I hope.
Black Mirror, in general, has always come up with something which makes us rethink the way technology has been moving ahead and how much dependence we have got over it. Bandersnatch uses this concept in a novel way and it even indulges us in making the viewers think about their own choices. As I said, the story of this particular movie isn’t very intriguing but I wonder how much of an effort they must have put behind it. I finished one ending and before I could click to go to credits, it gave me another choice and like a rabbit hole, I kept on going on and on for another 30 minutes. This movie was originally supposed to be 1 hour 30 minutes but you can surely keep it going for some more time. I am sure, others would experience the same curiosity. You may keep exploring more endings on Reddit and you might never give up. If you have time, of course.
Well, the minimal poster I made above represents the choices flowchart.
I wonder if there are actually any books which make the readers do the same. As in, say at page 50, one character has a choice. The author would have written there if the character makes choice A, directly jump to page 78 or if the choice is B, ignore the pages 51 to 81 and start reading 82 onwards. Now, that would be really mind-boggling.
Moral of the story remains the same, in life too, we make choices and most of the times, the outcomes end up being different. Since we cannot change the past, we have to live with it. But there are still some choices, we can go back to. Again, that depends on what you choose at that point in time.
Heavy raining was an understatement for that day. It was pouring out there. I and my room-mate called an Uber and found a 2x surge, as usual. But we had to go any how. We had to go to the movie, we had booked, “The Martian”. So eventually, we found a cab and started for the 6.30 show at Cinepolis (still the best after IMAX). The multiplex was not more than 20 mins away from our place.
We had crossed half the way, zooming past the evening rush amidst the downpour. The roads were relatively empty despite evening time. We were hopeful that we will reach the Cinema Hall well in time to buy Nachos and a huge tub of Pop-Corn. And then, like it always happens, Uncle Murphy reminded us of his laws. As soon as we reached the main road, it was jam-packed like the atoms of a heavy metal. I could only see a sea of red of the rear lights of the vehicles ahead. While the rain had now slowed down and some part of the sky had cleared, I could see a tiny red dot near the horizon up in the sky. (Making this last line up, it was still drizzling with grey-blue sky).
We crawled like a sloth and finally reach Cinepolis at 7.15 PM. I was expecting that they would have shown 20 minutes of trailers and advertisements before the show and we would have missed the movie little bit.
Hustling bustling, we entered the multiplex and found our seats after disturbing at least 10 people and saying sorry awkwardly to a couple. (This line is also made up because we had booked corner seats. I just didn’t want to state that fact)
I asked my neighbour, how much did we miss? The guy said, almost everything. The first scene, I remember, was when Astronaut Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) was video blogging about how he is about to make water and his plan is to have potatoes for survival.
Which means, we had missed the first part where the accident happens. Now, a little bit of Google will suggest that the first part of the story is slightly weird. As in, (if you have not seen the movie, Mark Whatney gets stuck on Mars due an accident caused by heavy storm), the storm won’t be that intense on Mars which would lead to such an accident. Sigh. That was as hurtful as the tethering bit goof-up of the movie Gravity. Anyway, we watched the rest of the movie, enjoyed it, came back home and happily lived ever after. 
Now fast forward to present day. In fact few days ago when I got my hands on The Martian book by Andy Weir. So, out of curiosity about what actually would have happened in the beginning, I started reading this book. I will now proceed with this post in 2 sections.
How did I read this book?
Book Review (Not movie review)
As the story is quite known, I am going to directly post my views without giving story’s summary or even any context (as if the above text is nothing.).
I generally liked this book. I specially liked the part where the protagonist’s sense of humor, amidst the havoc happening around him, is still intact. And that’s most of the book. The wit in the most difficult situations makes this book memorable.
I cannot pinpoint which bit was the best but this book’s core is one message: Despite whatever happens, never lose hope. No matter how bad things look around you, there will always be something you can do. Even if you’re about to die, at least smile for the last time. The book’s first line itself says ‘I’m fucked’ but the last line says that ‘…this is the happiest day of my life’. Of course, some parts look totally impossible but how much do we know about human perseverance and will to survive! There have been many instances where life survived when everyone had given their hopes. This book is based on that idea. My only issue (apart from a character named ‘Venkat Kapoor’ (and that was played by Chiwetel Ejiofor!??!)), that some of the places and equipments depicted in the book are slightly difficult to imagine in the mind while reading the book. One, because I haven’t read much of Sci-Fi actually and whatever movies I have seen, seems to have made everything easier. Second, some geography, some vehicles, only Mars nerds would know.
But then, since this is mostly a first person book, these kinds interest me a lot. And I found myself chuckling throughout the book. But I am still not 100% sure why they called the movie based on this book ‘Comedy’. A thing is good if it is good. It doesn’t matter if it is comedy or serious. Anyways, I recommend this book if you want to read some good sci-fi which is very probable to happen in reality if Elon Musk and likes do few things soon.
How did I read this book?
Very good question.
I had read about 40% of the book at my own pace. But then my friend @anahgem_k shared the Audiobook of The Martian with me through Audible. (Thank you!)
That. Changed. Everything.
I listened to the book, while reading it. And then I increased my listening speed to 1.5x. And eventually found 1.85x comfortable.
With that, I could read, understand and enjoy it so fast, that I finished the book in almost no time. (it still took me 3-4 Sols though).
So, if in case, you are finding a book interesting but getting less time to read it. And audiobooks alone aren’t your thing, combine them both. I’m seriously.
For anyone who has even the tiniest and slightest bit of experience of 80s and 90s movies and video games (see, I call it video games!), would find this book severely interesting and a sure-page-turner!
Before telling you my opinion about this, I would give a short spoiler-free-summary:
This book is about near-future, where real life would seriously suck and everyone would spend their times online (I meant present) in a Virtual Reality World called as Oasis. So, the creator of the Oasis creates a challenge for the users to play a game, like a Treasure Hunt. Whoever wins it wins a huge fortune of huge wealth and even the control of Oasis. Trick here is that the challenge involves being 2 words which are thrown around randomly so much nowadays that they have lost their real meaning: Nerds and Geeks. One has to be a thorough 80s and 90s days lover, pop-art follower, heavily addicted to games and movies of that era and above all, no social life. The challenge would involve playing games which range from Galaga to Pacman to what not, acting as the protagonist of movies, remembering Dungeons and Dragons from the top of your mind every 5 minutes, and so on. So the protagonist and some other people (and corporations) try to overtake each other and keep going Level by Level. Dying on Oasis and Dying in real world would be almost intertwined, if you know what I mean.
So, despite not being born in the US (or Japan) where most of the things were being developed in 80s and 90s, technology wise, I surely liked this book a lot. There are so many instances of movies and games of that era which are referred to and made very important parts of the movie, that you will find yourself referring to Wikipedia and doing ‘Aha! I had seen/heard/knew about this’ or ‘Ohh! How sad that I missed this!’. There are parts which you might not be able to relate to if you haven’t seen the game or the movies mentioned, but hey, this is also a recco to go through that stuff if you haven’t. Plus, there are some of the ramblings from the Oasis’s creator’s Almanac which can be made as a book in itself (like JK Rowling did with Fantastic Beasts). That book in the book gives a lot about mindsets and nostalgia related stuff, we all can refer too. And, the book has enough thrill already thanks to its ‘Gamification’ obviously embedded in it.
All in all, this was a fairly entertaining read and refers to a very plausible future. Moreover, *drumroll*, this book is being adapted to a movie soon. By none other than, Steven Spielberg.
I was alone in the apartment with nothing to do. So I watched ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ in the afternoon yesterday. The movie is good and gets you thinking. Later in the night (very late, at around 1200 midnight), I thought of watching Nolan’s Insomnia, there by completing all of his finally (ESOTSM is not his BTW) in the living room. The movie again, though not as grueling for mind as the other movies of his, but indeed thought provoking. I had switched off the lights to get a better viewing experience as well. In the middle of the movie, I heard a small thudd outside the door. I ignored it once but when I heard it again, I went outside to find no one. Thinking that it might be just wind blowing across, I continued with the movie.
The movie ended up at around 2:00 AM. I shut the laptop off and I switched the lights on. As soon as I entered my room, I find a dark brownish cat sitting on one side of the bed. As it happens, when you switch the light on after spending some good time in darkness, eyes take a while to adjust to the brightness so I was caught startled. I mean, if you don’t have a pet, who expects a cat sitting on your bed at 2.00 AM in the night. Like myself, the cat too got surprised and jumped off to run away. It went into the living room and jumped out of the window which was, say 20%, opened and ran away. It was not scary but laughable. I cleaned up the bed to check if it had not done some shit and made my Saturday Caturday! It hadn’t.
So I slipped into the blanket (Bangalore is a hill-less-hill-station, remember?) which felt unusually warm on right bottom side (and it was not warm as in Wet warm) and tried to sleep which I could only after an hour later. The mind itself keeps imagining things, no?
Now whenever I will enter my room, I will check once if there is a cat or not. It could be there, it could not be there.
Update: 28 November 2012
Found the cat alive, sitting on a bundle of newspaper at 3.30 AM making scratching noises in the apartment (again). Thrilled.