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Don't Look Up

Don't look up

From the mind of Adam McKay comes a bleak comedy about End of times about two low level astronomers who discover a comet hurdling towards earth and must warn everyone before it's too late.

So the premise of this movie is thrown around in film circles for past few years. After divisive reception of Vice (which I liked) people rolled their eyes at the premise. But once he is able to get DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep among boatload of other stars who usually headline their own movies to be part of the ensemble, people became curious.But I always knew that the expectations from "sophisticated" critics would never be met by this movie.

The goal of the filmmaker was never to make a critically beloved movie. Critics always look for subtlety in movies and the more direct a movie is, the more it agonizes them. First you need to understand the landscape of filmmaking and of the modern audience. Studio executives hate loosing money but love winning awards and building their own legacy. A movie about climate change was never gonna pull audience to theaters even if it stars DiCaprio in current covid climate. But it's a movie that DiCaprio has to be part of. Not just for humanitarian reasons but also to not sound hypocritical. So the next best thing is to stream it on Netflix. In a way the movie kinda forces DiCaprio to put his money where his mouth is.

Then comes the audience of today. It includes critics as well. Movies like inconvenient truth and tons of documentaries deal with climate change. But not a lot of eyeballs on them. Even the one's by DiCaprio don't reach wide audience. For a topic as urgent as climate change, there is no point in subtlety. It's like beating around the bushes to discuss a problem that is staring right at us. So a scattershot approach is the only way to get point across. But archaic critics don't wanna loose their core principles even if world is burning around them like dinosaurs. That's the reason why it has 55% on rotten tomatoes. But to me its the perfect delivery system.

The movie focuses on the high jinx that ensues once the concerned authorities hear about it. How scientists are relegated to backseats and out of decision making processes. It also shows the trappings of media circus that is designed to loose focus and away from things that matter. We see how DiCaprio's Randall Mindy looses focus and starts an affair with cate Blanchett's new anchor character. It shows how government uses the very own scientists that are aware of the truth to push its agenda so audience can trust. It shows the inherent misogyny in society and how Jennifer Lawrence's character is kept out of loop intentionally because of her gender and her straight forward nature.

Perhaps the most interesting character is played by Mark Rylance of tech Billionaire Peter Isherwell. A character who is more in touch with technology than humans. Who has god complex and is willing to risk humanity for the sake of his ego. All this dooms humanity.

Isherwell is a mix of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. The star Billionaire CEO with little too much general public exposure and fanboy following. The movie does end grimly for humans. But its more of a wakeup call than a soothing movie.

I think this is the best way to tell this story. Making a drama is the worst possible way to approach this subject. You need to smile all the way through but the after taste is where its message should hit you. Running gags and the 360% skewering approach of Adam McKay is perfect. He is taking shots at everyone from public to politicians to billionaires to reporters to technology and much more. The only thing that hasn't changed its focus is the comet itself. It was headed to earth all the way through. Just like climate change. Its on us to do something about it because its gonna come.

A bitter pill delivered using a chocolate bar.