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Don’t Look Up knows how to make an impact
Adam McKay knows how to vie for our attention
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I’ve lived through multiple supposed doomsdays. First there was the expiry of the Mayan Calendar in 2012, then there was Jean Dixon’s prediction of a 2020 Armageddon, and more recently, Nostradamus’ 2021 vision of fire raining down from the sky.
What I’ve learnt from my three stints with the end of the world is that it’s a total spectacle. It’s social media screaming ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE(!?) while pumping out memes of our impending doom. It’s certain news anchors floggings doomsday propaganda and telling me to repent (*rolls eyes* I know). And it’s my cynical friends telling me to “get fucked” when I even begin to broach the topic.
Don’t Look Up
No stranger to depicting a crisis, Academy-Award winning director Adam McKay – whose works have spanned the multinational financial crash (The Big Short), to the war on terror (Vice) – tries to capture the aforementioned shitshow that accompanies impeding doom in his latest film Don’t Look Up, a quirky satirical disaster comedy that feels especially relevant now.
In this film, astronomer Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and PhD student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) make an astounding discovery with dire consequences – an incoming comet set to destroy the planet as they know it. With the help of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), the pair venture on a giant media tour to warn mankind, but no matter where they go, or who they turn to, nobody seems to be listening. There’s President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her indifferent son (Jonah Hill), who don’t want to risk their ratings, television presenters Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie Eventee (Cate Blanchett) who think the topic is too depressing for daytime television, and billionaire tech CEO Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), who would rather milk the hurtling hunk of rock for all it’s worth.
What ensues is a battle for mankind’s attention, interspersed by an ensemble cast of incredible talent, including Ariana Grande(?!) and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET!!! The question Don’t Look Up asks us is what captures our curiosity, and what doesn’t? How many Muppet features, talk shows, or television ads, will it take for the world to notice something? How many pop concerts or presidential rallies until people give a shit? Judging by the amount of time I spend glued to TikTok with my blinders on, it’s a hell of a LOT.
As the doomsday timer counts down, the film reaches an absurdly comedic fever pitch. I guarantee you’ll be internally screaming, crying, shaking “LOOK UP” at Lawrence-level decibels as everyone else in the film screams not to, your body quaking with pent up frustration as the duo fights for their voices to be heard. Hope might be stronger than fear, but so is ignorance, memes, and our collective thirst for “astronomer-I’d-like-to-fuck” “hunky Star Man” DiCaprio.
With a decked-out cast, plenty of comedic moments and Lawrence’s patented screaming, Don’t Look Up has a lot that vies for our attention. Whether you’re coming for its dry humour, Grande’s performance, a sycophantic Hill, or simply to suss if it lives up to its awards buzz, it’s one of those things that you won’t be able to look away from.
Don’t Look Up is streaming tonight at 7PM AEDT.
Watch these too:
Salvation for another end-of-world dilemma. This two-season suspenseful drama follows a similar premise to Don’t Look Up, centred around the discovery of an asteroid set to impact the Earth in just six months, prompting worldwide panic.
The Big Short, if you can’t get enough of Adam McKay’s direction. Based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling novel of the same name, this Oscar-winning film follows the lives of several American financial professionals who predicted and profited from the subprime-mortgage crisis.
Edge of the Universe, if you’re suddenly curious about comets. Leading astronomers talk about all things planets, asteroids and other wonders of the galaxy in this educational documentary series.
I can’t stop thinking about:
Capricorn season (ugh). That is all.
This article in The Guardian about a pub in the UK that’s looking for a new manager. The twist? The Ship Inn sits on a small isolated island, and whoever gets the gig will also become the “King of Piel”, managing and maintaining the island too. If you’re looking to become a monarch, now’s your chance – you’ll just have to go through a ceremony “involving a rusty sabre which concludes with buckets of beer being poured over their head.” Sign me up!
Kirsten Dunst’s stirring performance as a sympathetic widow in The Power of the Dog. In this excellent profile in the New Yorker, the actor speaks on how she channels her signature “scrappy, girlish ennui”, acting in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, and how deep down, she really wants to win an Oscar.