• Lukas Kendall

Don’t Look Up


My wife and I loved this crazy movie! As far as we’re concerned, it’s the first worthy successor to Idiocracy—skewering our dumb culture, dumber media and even dumber politics.


It’s especially remarkable given that this type of big-budget farce is the easiest thing to make into a leaden disaster. I can’t recall how many amateur scripts I’ve read that try to write this kind of broad satire...and it’s just painful when it’s not done at this kind of ultra-high level.


The secret sauce is to understand people and nail the human emotion—and this is a very emotional movie. The ending (no spoilers) is beautiful. The characters all feel real, and very contemporary.


Whereas in amateur scripts, by the way, they just make all the characters shallow idiots.


Of course, Don’t Look Up is helped by a freakish A-list of talent: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep (as a uniquely Meryl version of a Trump/Palin president), Mark Rylance, Timothee Chalamet, Cate Blanchett (doing a great Megyn Kelly)—I mean, wow.


There are great actors, and great movie stars, but it’s super rare to have them both in the same person (a la Brando or, well, Meryl Streep)—this is an Avengers-level collection of acting talent, and they’re all pitch-perfect.


And that’s not even to list the supporting players: Melanie Lynskey, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Michael Chiklis, Ron Perlman. What a delight to watch.


I guess it’s not a surprise this is so good, and the cast is so stellar—Adam McKay kind of has this super-smart, left-wing-political pop genre all to himself, and he’s so good at it. (I also love Succession, and am loving Winning Time.) So of course people would jump to be a part of his next Netflix movie.


And the score is great! Nicholas Brittell is really terrific, and I’m becoming a big fan.


This kind of film has a tone that must be almost impossible to nail—I mean, how do you musically put your tongue in your cheek?


But Brittell’s main theme, a kind of rollicking big band number, plays up the party atmosphere of our idiotic (but very human) society, while the softer, twinkly stuff captures the sincerity of the characters.

I did find myself recollecting Justin Hurwitz’s score to First Man at times, and maybe that was some kind of model for them? I honestly don’t know. But it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in the filmmaking process they needed temp music, and somebody thought, “What’s a piece of modern, inspirational film music for a rocket launch?”—and grabbed First Man to try against picture: “Ah, okay, this is a direction to try.”


To play it mostly straight, but skew it just a bit for the comedy and satire—and still have it be so musical and delightful and well-produced...this is not easy!


Love the schmaltzy solo violin in this track for the comically incompetent and malevolently greedy “BASH Corporation” and their ludicrous video:

I’ve seen three of the five films with Best Score nominees—Dune, The Power of the Dog and Don’t Look Up—and totally agree with those choices.


I would expect Dune to win—and I would vote for it, myself.


Also, many thanks to the Don’t Look Up team for designing their soundtrack album cover to look like an actual, distressed 1960s vinyl—yay!

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