Welcome to our moon-synced movie review show, hosted by Saira Barbaric and NEVE. This duo of South Seattle creatives make multidisciplinary work together and individually. For this show, they’re ecstatic to join their love of astrology, ritual, and pop culture.
Stream this month’s podcast at the New Moon Movie Review official podcast website.
I knew I wanted to see Don’t Look Up (written and created by Adam McKay and David Sirota, directed by Adam McKay) because it features a Timothée Chalamet appearance. I am an unabashed Timmy fan; I make no apologies. As soon as I began watching it, too, I remembered my crushes of yesteryear: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. They are both playing to their strengths in every way in this film. Leo is a mentally disabled and socially awkward yet unreasonably good-looking (it is spoken about this way) brainiac astronomer with a heart of gold but a bent moral compass, and perhaps a skewed view of reality. JLaw, the people’s girl, is very much the outspoken radical, the sweater punk who prefers tea to booze but resorts to smoking a bowl in times of extreme stress or delight. She is also a brainiac astronomer, and a Ph.D. student of Leo’s at Michigan State. Timothée Chalamet’s character doesn’t matter all that much, and yet he matters most of all. An article in which I will extoll Timmy’s virtues is forthcoming, but I promise I won’t waste your time here.
Upon watching Don’t Look Up, alone and likely drawing and smoking weed, I promptly — spread out over a week or so — proceeded to watch it 11 more times. I watched it a lucky 13th time to prep for this episode of New Moon Movie Night (NMMN), and right now, I am on my 14th watch. The number of times I watch a film is not necessarily indicative of how good I think the film is. Our own Saira B (all pronouns), my love, once watched Bright starring Will Smith nearly 400 times, merely to convince herself that it was in fact as bad as he perceived it to be. Which was very bad. Saira was nearly mesmerized by the badness. Had we had NMMN going at that time, they might have successfully gotten me to watch Bright. As we have NMMN going now, I successfully got zir to watch Don’t Look Up, as it wasn’t something she necessarily would have watched on his own.
I find Don’t Look Up not so much good as compelling, exciting, comforting, and validating. The comet of it all is compelling, like death flying right at you and there’s nothing you can do about it, or rather, you are not ready for what you could possibly do. Wondering whether or not the United States government will listen to the scientists’ warning of catastrophe is exciting, as much as there is inside that question the dread that we already know the answer, that of course they won’t listen. Capitalism wasn’t made to listen. I find comfort in watching the world end over and over. By pressing play on the possibility of such trauma, I feel that I am steering my own ship into the storm. Validation of my suffering, satire as it is, occurs when Jonah Hill, playing son and chief of staff to Meryl Streep’s hauntingly familiar POTUS, sneers and smears Leo and JLaw so hard that I feel as if I’ve just been bullied. I am similarly validated, in a perverse way, by the representation of People of Color in the film. Let’s be clear, all of the main characters in this film are white. Be they friend or foe, they are white. There are secondary, backup characters who are Black and Brown, and they are, in the case of Rob Morgan playing Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe, the head of Planetary Defense, a magical Negro Hero archetype, or, in the case of everyone else, seem to be willfully immoral, unreliable, or at the very least, bad listeners. Wildly, one of the film’s 87 award nominations and 16 wins was from the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) for Best Screenplay. Since I do love this movie in many ways, I wonder if there’s something AAFCA got that I didn’t.
I will not tell you about Timothée Chalamet’s character; you’ll have to find out for yourself. Suffice to say, he’s playing an approximation of a crust lord ex of mine, unbeknownst to him. I recommend this film if you enjoy the feelings of yelling without being listened to, if you want to see Mark Rylance play a terrifying and eerily reminiscent tech mogul, and if the concept of dying with all your friends comforts you more than freaks you out. I do not recommend this film if you already spend every night panicking about climate change, if you resent all-white all-star casts, or if you do not find Jonah Hill funny. Want to nerd out about astronomy, though? No one has ever accused me of loving the idea of “serving the United States,” but every time I watch things like Hidden Figures or Don’t Look Up, I feel prompted to study astronomy and join NASA. Stars and math are so cool!
NEVE (they/(s)he) is a multigender, multiracial, multiply Disabled, multidimensional, multidisciplinary terpsichorean artist of the stage, street, field, stream, and screen. They are an Indigenous African living in Duwamish and Coast Salish lands and traveling wherever they have access and an invitation. (S)He is a 2020 Pina Bausch Fellow and a 2022 Arc Artist Fellow. Visit them online at nevebebad.com and beyond.
Before you move on to the next story … The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!