Why I won't be watching Don't Look Up

When I watched the trailer for Don’t Look Up, I was thought it was comical in a way that you’d do that through-the-nose exhaled laugh at something mildly amusing. But I couldn’t help but notice that the ensemble cast, featuring an array of Oscar, Golden Globe, and Writers Guild Award winners, was attempting satire at the expense of a very serious climate crisis without the means to do anything about it. They were taking the mick out of themselves for profit and my friendCass summed it up in her Letterboxd review. Here are the opening lines:

I’m mad at everyone who told me to watch this movie.

Even if the cast DO understand they’re the butt of the joke, which I think a lot of them do, they just walk away with a pay check. And they carry on with their Hollywood liberal fake-caring bullshit, and the sheeple argument lingers. And fundamentally nothing changes. Those people just got another bundle of cash instead of doing something. As usual. 

It was giving me Deep Impact vibes but replacing Hollywood sanctimony with Hollywood liberal humour.

Open Culture's list of 60 free film noir movies

The Basketball Fix (1951) Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Film noir is something I’ve really wanted to get into but I didn’t know where to start. The term describes Hollywood crime and mystery involving detectives with issues solving crimes shrouded in cynicism and darkness. While it’s known more as an American film style, film noir is often associated with black and white visuals inspired by German expressionism.

Open Culture’s list of film noir movies contain classics such as D.O.A., The Big Combo, and Detour with some of the titles also available on Amazon (but I’m sure you could find alternative vendors if you know where to look). 60 films is still a lot to go on but given some of the featured actors (Angela Lansbury of Murder, She Wrote, Frank Sinatra, Lloyd Bridges, Humphrey Bogart, and Barbara Stanwyck), that’s narrowed down my starting choices.

In the movie above, titled The Basketball Fix, a college basketball star gets himself involved with organised crime and starts point shaving to avoid fatal consequences. A sportswriter tries to save him from further trouble.

Read the full list on Open Culture.

Kristin Hunt on our cinematic viewing behaviour in the streaming age

For JSTOR Daily, Kristin Hunt looked at how cinema works for its viewers in the age of streaming services:

In the streaming wars, audiences have access to more movies than they could possibly consume, even in a once-in-a-century pandemic that has left many homebound. Yet ironically, in this rush to give consumers more “choice,” the streamers have systematically devalued creatives, leading to a glut of mediocre movies that fade from memory the second the credits roll.

I pay for Amazon Prime. Sometimes I can go a month or two without watching anything on it. Other times, I get my money’s worth (yes, I’m aware of the Sunk Cost Fallacy). But between that, Netflix, and any streaming service I’ve ever used, there’s more chaff than wheat. Thousands of movies and whenever I want to watch a film by a specific actor, it’s not there. I guess it forces me to actually buy the movies I want or acquire them by other means…

Rachel Syme on Michelle Pfeiffer's considered career

For The New Yorker, Rachel Syme interviewed Michelle Pfeiffer about her life and career which hasn’t followed the same kinds of paths most Hollywood actresses have taken (on purpose):

You’ve given different reasons over the years why you don’t love being interviewed, but the one that stuck with me is that you were always afraid people would “find you out.” That if you told too much, you’d be exposed as a fraud.

Well, that’s typically my fear about my performances, that this will be the performance I will be discovered as the fraud that I have known all along that I am. That really comes from not being classically trained. I didn’t go to Juilliard. I didn’t study a lot. I studied in workshops and things like that, but I didn’t come from the theatre. There was a real snobbery when I started acting. In fact, one of my first jobs was a television show, and I played the blonde bombshell where I had fake breasts and was in hot pants, I didn’t even have a name, she was just called “the bombshell.” I was working with a lot of actors who were all from New York. I just felt really unworthy, and I think that never leaves you.

In terms of my discomfort with doing interviews, I think it’s early on not understanding the difference between things that you say, and the way things look in print, and things coming off in a way that was not your intention. I think you just get really guarded. I just had a hard time even formulating a sentence because I was so guarded.

When people talk about Michelle Pfeiffer and wonder why she wasn’t “bigger” (whatever that’s supposed to mean in any context), I think of Daniel Day-Lewis. Now retired, he was an actor who chose his roles carefully, was notorious for his method acting and that time he went to Italy to become a shoemaker. He won awards and was applauded for his journey. But somehow Michelle Pfeiffer is questioned for being careful and considered and choosing her own paths alongside her career and parenthood. We know what the difference is between them (and it’s interesting that they both starred together in The Age of Innocence and how their careers diverged and converged since then) but the criticism is unfounded.

Oh, and that TV role where she played a blonde bombshell? That was in episode 12 of Delta House, a TV spin-off of National Lampoon’s Animal House. Stream that below.

Delta House - Episode 12 - Hoover and the Bomb (Animal House Spin-off/Sequel)

Hilarie Burton on leaving Hollywood

Hilarie Burton

I don’t pay attention to celebrity news but this caught my because I follow Hilarie Burton on Instagram and it was interesting.

In an interview with CBS News, she explained how she left Hollywood for a Rhinebeck, a small town in upstate New York, and found comfort.

“I found so much self-worth in this community that I hadn’t in work. […] When I’d accomplished everything I said I was gonna accomplish at a young age and still didn’t really like myself, there was a problem.”

Her reason for moving there with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan was “the memory — and destruction — of similar small towns where they both grew up”.

“The small towns disappeared. The mom-and-pop shops disappeared. Everything got replaced by big, massive chains. So when we found this community that was all mom-and-pop shops, it was so important to us that we preserved it and we honored it in a way that other people maybe saw the value in it.”

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the time inside and away from everyone has been good for things like this — taking stock of where you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re here. For many of us, that can be difficult to face, especially if you were just getting your life together or at least trying to (myself included). I’m still doing it now and extracting yourself from an environment that leaves you unfulfilled can be liberating. I’m happy that she has found peace in her new surroundings with her family.