January 14

Published by Panetary Health Initiative on

Just Look Up

I’ve never reviewed a movie before, but tonight, for my #AYearInADay action, I decided to watch and review ‘Don’t Look Up’. With all the buzz around it, and a cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo di Caprio, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett (who I seriously didn’t recognise!) it was a film that’s difficult to ignore.

The close-up of a cup of tea and a statue of the inspirational science communicator Carl Sagan, in the opening sequence, immediately drew me in.

Image - 432879] | Carl Sagan | Know Your Meme

Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the passionate, direct and bolshy ‘take-no-bullshit character’, astronomy PhD Candidate Kate Dibiasky, carried me along through the whole movie. Her rage, her anxiety, her continued stunned disbelief that a General would charge them for the snacks that were actually free, and that people behaved like they did in the face of undeniable, measurable, scientifically-observed and peer-reviewed facts, seemed quite frankly, the most ‘normal’ response by anyone in the whole movie.

“Why aren’t people terrified?” she asks.

The answer is because people are shown to have been brainwashed by the mega tech corporation, and its new smartphone, aptly named ‘BASH LiiF”, to want to live a ‘life without the stress of living’. In a product launch, reminiscent of 1984, the tech billionaire Peter Isherwood assures the cheering crowd that “we can make sure those sad feelings never return”.

And that avoidance of reality and the complex feelings that come with it, is the most shocking aspect of this film. It so closely resembles much of what we now see in the media and in the world around us – that people can no longer talk to each other; that facts have become opinions; that people can be persuaded to chant ‘Don’t Look Up!’ when a comet approaching earth is clearly visible; that so many of those in power have become a ‘freak show’ with no interest in protecting us; and that so many people have allowed themselves to be distracted from reality by the cynical manipulative trivia of those who want to make a buck out of our vulnerability.

The throw-away line “The end is near, will there be a Super Bowl?” chillingly mirrors how our media has focused on tennis players at the same time as Australia reached the 10th highest number of Covid cases in the world this week (just behind India).

Most of all, however, it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s character that shines in this film. Her dialogue just zings, with my favourite line being: “Unless you arseholes are taking me to the Bat Cave, f*ck you for putting this hood on me.”

At the end of the film, as the good guys wait for the comet to arrive, holding their hands in prayer, and recalling anything they’re grateful for, she says simply, “I’m grateful we tried”.

The 17th C historian Thomas Fuller, who lived in an equally disturbing era, said “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief”.

As a Blue Mountains resident, I’m so grateful that our Council is listening to the science and is working to restore planetary health.

And, as we take our daily actions for #AYearInADay, I’m grateful we’re trying.


Carla · 15/01/2022 at 9:43 pm

It is an extraordinary film. Very American-centred though – it comes out in a year when China, India and the EU have all had significant space missions. I’m really heartened by all the advances being made around the world that AREN’T in America – people all around the world are taking action and not necessarily following the path America has carved out. It’s a good reminder to keep the pressure on those corporations – the energy sector is just as bad – to transition to zero carbon and to do it NOW!

    Lis Bastian · 15/01/2022 at 9:51 pm

    I imagine after the Trump years in America, its creative people must be racking their hearts, souls and minds trying to understand what happened … and is continuing to happen! I’m with you though – heartened by the advances being made around the world and NOT following America’s path.

paula · 15/01/2022 at 1:56 pm

Thank’s for this Lis. I shall watch it right now

Ian · 15/01/2022 at 9:13 am

An extraordinary film in many ways. Half-arsed, politically unmotivated attempts at remission; throwing the solution over to a for-profit company; the share market shaping society’s response; a media unable to distance itself from the competition for eyeballs; profound and incontrovertible scientific truths buried in the dung heap of social media and ‘influencers’. Substituting global warming for the comet is unescapable.

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