Saturday, January 08, 2022

This is not a film blog: No one cares

 Don't Look Up, written and directed by Adam McKay, streaming on Netflix

Satire in the theater is what closes on Saturday night, someone said; satire in movies is usually a disjointed mess but it can be fun (Duck Soup, Dr. Strangelove).  The point it's making tends to be obvious but necessary (war is bad, nuclear war is worse).  It also fails entirely to persuade anyone who wasn't already on board.  

So with Don't Look Up.  Either you're already convinced by the overwhelming evidence of climate change (or covid, though that wasn't the intended target) or you're watching something else.  If you came here in the hope that Jennifer Lawrence would take off her clothes, keep moving.  Some of the reviews have used the term "slapstick," but I don't think the writers know what it means.  They should review the peanut stand sequences in Duck Soup.  Smashing windows and vomiting into an ashtray are not slapstick.

That's not to say you won't enjoy this movie, especially if you enjoyed Network and Mars Attacks!  (Yes and no for me.)  The best reason to see it is Meryl Streep having the time of her life as a female Trump, a president who has learned to harness the worst impulses of the American people.  When the astronomers arrive at the White House with their ghastly news she's too busy to see them -- a staffer is having a birthday party and she's trying to appoint a doofus to the Supreme Court who hasn't even gone to law school.  (Her husband, played perfectly by Jonah Hill, is her chief of staff.)  Brushed aside because the science is not quite a hundred percent, our scientific heroes (Lawrence and Leo DiCaprio) try to reach the public on a vapid morning show called The Daily Rip, where they are decisively upstaged by a pop diva (Ariana Grande) before being trivialized by the hosts (Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry).  

The title is the catch-phrase of President Orlean and her followers:  Don't look up and the comet won't be approaching.  (Don't worry about global warming and it will take care of itself.  Don't test and the virus will stop killing people.  Ad nauseam.)  We get it.  So it becomes an occasion to enjoy the actors.  Mark Rylance is brilliant as tech mogul Peter Isherwell, based on Steve Jobs or Elon Musk (take your pick) and determined to get even richer from the chemical contents of Comet Dibiasky; he's like an autistic yet calculating Fred Rogers.  Himesh Patel (from the British series Damned and the movie Yesterday) is a young astronomer who disappears all too soon; Liev Schreiber contributes only his voice, which is no excuse for misspelling his name.  I'm not sure why Ron Perlman was cast as the over-the-hill astronaut -- it feels like they tried and failed to pull Jack Nicholson out of retirement.  

As long as Don't Look Up is -- why do all Netflix movies feel too long? -- I wish it had been broken into two or three episodes.  Rob Morgan as the senior astronomer Oglethorpe dominates every scene, but we're left wondering about him.  Does he come to the Lynskey house for its "last supper" because he has no family of his own?  Please tell me Morgan wasn't cast because they wanted a Black man in a position of scientific authority.  I need to know a little more about the Dibiaskys, who won't let their daughter in the house until she promises "no politics."  I notice she also faces the end with Lynskey.  

"It's like a comet's coming and no one cares," David Sirota apparently said to Adam McKay, prompting this film and securing a story credit for himself.  He's right.  The Trumpetariat isn't even denouncing it on their podcasts.  Minds are not changing.  Movies don't have that kind of power.  The Great Dictator did not deter Hitler.  

Great special effects, though.




Blogger Aaron B. Pryor said...

Watched it. Had a nice nap.

8:12 AM  

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