Its production having been delayed by the pandemic, Don't Look Up is a newly released satirical sci-fi film, advertised as an allegory about climate change and about government and popular culture's inattention to this problem and generally endemic lack of seriousness. It stars Leonardo DiCapiro and Jennifer Lawrence as two midwestern astronomers who discover a new comet and who then try to warn a Trump-like President (Meryl Streep) and the rest of the country about the comet, which is on course to hit the earth in six months' time and possibly extinguish human life (or at least human civilization) when it does so. As of last week, Don't Look Up was the third most watched Netflix film ever, which may say something about the film's appeal but perhaps also about its topicality - not only as an allegory about the climate crisis but also about our more immediate experience of the global pandemic and cynicism about governments' inadequate responses and the wider failure of much of our ambient popular and elite cultures in confronting this crisis - and presumably any crisis of comparable seriousness.
As satire it certainly works, if somewhat formulaic and unsurprising in its extreme cynicism about everything from the sheer silliness and mind-numbing stupidity of daytime TV to capitalist greed and the corrupt character of the rest of our elite culture, including legacy prestige institutions and science aligned with government, and finally to how the zone gets flooded (to adapt a Steve Bannon phrase) with misinformation and disinformation and even (in this case) comet denialism. In an especially apt nod to our present predicament, it even illustrates the pattern of elitist contempt that underlies the manipulation of populist rhetoric.
It also offers some serious stuff about what matters most in life, and about how different people deal with disaster and die as they lived.
A troubling but entertainingly suggestive film for this terrible time in which we now find ourselves!