Serious science, sci-fi elements, humour, and stars (Hollywood variety), align in a rather tantalizing out of this world, end of days, bang up bit of entertainment. “Don’t Look Up” (not necessarily a critics darling), isn’t a hysterical laugh maker but does hit the mark as satire, though in melodramatic form. So where do you manufacture humor in a plot about impending doom when a giant comet is on a light speed collision course with Earth. Emergency measures need to be activated, though invoking a prayer could be considered. That’s the kind of logic filtering through the narrative that forms the foundation for the light hearted buffoonery-spinning off- the-wall chortles.
The fact that our home planet will be destroyed doesn’t alarm President Meryl Streep or her apprentice grad student Kate (Jennifer Lawrence). The White House gatekeepers aren’t of a mind to alert the public that doomsday is just months away. The satire imagines a deep space rock striking earth, an allegory for the climate calamity crisis earthlings are experiencing. The dire situation does concern the president’s crusader character associate, Dr. Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). So, along with laughter, the film has regenerated environmental fears.
The killer comet of course becomes a blazing news item for a popular talk show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and her partner Jack (Tyler Perry). Naturally, word spreads, aided by social media, but there’s muted attention to the distressing reality. The news is downplayed with ho-hum response from disinterested humans (remember, this is satire). But, a capricious moneyman (Mark Rylance) sees financial opportunity in harvesting the killer comet rather than obliterating it. There’s always a buck to be made.
A smart marketing scheme to publicize the film was attracting the interest of a cluster of high profile tinsle town talent to star in an assumed middling sci-fi flick. Though their involvement would have boosted the budget, the move would also beckon film fans. It’s riding high on Netflix viewing (also showing in theatres). Cast your eyes on the screen and see Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Ron Perlman, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Gina Gershon, and Matthew Perry.
“Don’t Look Up” links us to the realities of fake news and denials, constant in-your-face themes from the gospel according to Trump. Humorous sequences interspersed with some heartstrings tugging, lure viewers attentions to the plague realities of human idiocy and selfish greed without being too preachy.
The death of Earth comedy, though low on critical appeal, is bagging high ratings for Netflix. Director Adam McKay (co-writer/producer) says, “The idea behind it was ‘How do we get this urgency out there?’.” The science is telling us that the problem is happening right now and it’s far worse than we thought. I felt like laughter was a good way to go because if you’re laughing then you inherently have some perspective.”
“Don’t Look Up”, but look ahead…at the screen.
“THEY CALL ME MR. TIBBS”
Sydney Poitier, a movie star whose star burned bright in a stellar career, and on a dedication to civil rights, passed away January 6, aged 94.
The Oscar winner (best actor “Lillies of the Field”, 1963), helped break down racial barriers in the roles he played onscreen and, with close friend Harry Belafonte, was active on front line struggles against racism,
Honored as Black royalty, and tagged as the Jackie Robinson of cinema, Poitier worked his way up an overwhelmingly white industry, refusing to play stereotypical roles for a Black male actor.
His determination for equality is summed up in a scene in Canadian director Norman Jewison’s 1967 film “ In the Heat of the Night.” Poitier, playing Black Philadelpia detective Virgil Tibbs visiting a racially hostile Mississippi town, is acosted by the racist white sheriff (Rod Steiger) wondering what they call him back in Philadelphia. Poitier responds with resolute grit, spitting out, “THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS.”
That brief sentence encapsulates Sydney Poitier’s career and personal life. View his library of films which convey the power of his personal and creative convictions in breaking barriers. Fade out, but not forgotten.