Don’t Look Up

 

Don’t Look Up is a clever, unapologetically brash satire about a future America so consumed with celebrity worship, brain-numbing infotainment, social media popularity, and political gamesmanship that it refuses to take the impending destruction of planet Earth seriously. We’re not talking climate change here, though the parallel is obvious. Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) has irrefutable evidence that an unprecedentedly gigantic comet will wipe out Earth in precisely six months, 14 days. The chances of “planet extinction” are set at 99.78%.

“Call it 70% and let’s just move on,” says President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep), who’s more bothered by the upcoming midterms and the unearthing of nude pics of her sexy boyfriend, a Supreme Court nominee.

Are you an unabashed pessimist about 21st-century America? Do you believe that we’ve reached a point that — to quote W.B. Yeats — “the center cannot hold”? And, most of all, are you in the apparent minority who understands that true satire is a purposeful exaggeration of reality? If so, I say just give this liberating, appropriately cynical, fitfully hilarious film a look.

The Empire Strikes Back

The adventure continues in this “Star Wars” sequel. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master’s help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse).

Titanic

Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. Incorporating both historical and fictionalized aspects, it is based on accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Upon its release on December 19, 1997, Titanic achieved significant critical and commercial success. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, and won 11, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, tying Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscars won by a single film. With an initial worldwide gross of over $1.84 billion, Titanic was the first film to reach the billion-dollar mark. It remained the highest-grossing film of all time until Cameron’s Avatar surpassed it in 2010. A 3D version of Titanic, released on April 4, 2012, to commemorate the centennial of the sinking, earned it an additional $343.6 million worldwide, pushing the film’s worldwide total to $2.18 billion and making it the second film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide (after Avatar). In 2017, the film was re-released for its 20th anniversary and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity, a 2002 action thriller and its two sequels are probably the best spy movies ever made. Based on a Robert Ludlum novel of the same name, and directed by Doug Liman, the Bourne Identity’s  insight into the workings of the intelligence community prefigured the Snowden revelations regarding US government surveillance. The acting is superb, the directing is first class and Tony Gilroy’s and William Blake Herron’s script is intelligent and well crafted. It is regarded by many critics as a neo-noir classic.

Gladiator

Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator produced in 2000 is reminiscent of the great epic movies of the 1960s, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. It is monumental movie-making: visually thrilling, technically astonishing, and emotionally engaging. The film won multiple awards, including five Academy Awards at the 73rd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. It also received four BAFTA Awards at the 54th British Academy Film Awards for Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Editing. Since its release, Gladiator has also been credited with reinventing the swords and sandals genre and rekindling interest in entertainment centered around ancient Greek and ancient Roman culture, such as the TV series Rome.

The Mission

The Mission produced in 1986 and directed by Roland Joffe is a powerful action epic about a man of the sword (Robert DeNiro) and a man of the cloth (Jeremy Irons) who unite to shield a South American Indian tribe from brutal subjugation by 18th-century Portuguese colonial empire. The film is based on true accounts of Jesuit missionaries who died defending the Guarani Indians from slavery. The movie won acclaim for using Native Guarani Indians as actors and actresses. The Mission won the “Best Picture Award” at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, and earned seven Academy Awards nominations, including “Best Picture.” The soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone won the Golden Globe for Original Score . It was used as a soundtrack to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

BladeRunner

In 1992 Director Ridley Scott created a futuristic dystopia which addressed the question what does it mean to be human. The in camera special effects created by David Dryer, Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich set a new standard for visual effects. The movie starred Harrison Ford as a policeman responsible for finding Replicants robots that looked human and were banned on Earth under penalty of death.

The exploration of the moral and philosophical quandaries that would come with computers and artificial intelligence was present in science fiction books dating back to the ’60s and ’70s – including Phillip K. Dick’s 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” which “Blade Runner” is based on. What made “Blade Runner” groundbreaking was it created the visual look, atmosphere and world of cyberpunk. Ridley Scott and his team of incredible technicians built a futuristic Los Angeles that was the perfect extension of the near-future dystopia sci-fi authors were writing about in their books.

As the role technology plays in our daily lives has grown exponentially since the ’70s and ’80s, the themes of the cyberpunk movement have permeated all aspects of popular culture. As a result, the international film market has increasingly gravitated toward this futuristic setting defined by technology – bleeding into genre re-defining superhero movies (“Dark Knight”), action movies (“The Matrix”) and anime (“Ghost in the Shell”) – for which “Blade Runner” is the visual touchstone. It’s a connection that filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, The Wachowskis and “Ghost in the Shell” visionary Mamoru Oshii readily acknowledge.