REVIEW: Don’t Look Up

Filmmaker Adam Mckay ditches all subtlety in Don’t Look Up, weaponizing comedic satire to lunge straight for the throat of his target— which is, seemingly, almost everyone with media power. Don’t Look Up follows the story of two astronomers, played by Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, who discover a deadly comet speeding straight toward Earth and desperately attempt to convince the world of the event’s urgency. Facing the insurmountable obstacles of political corruption, corporate greed, and the happy-go-lucky culture of the celebrity world, the two struggle to make sense of the media’s ignorance as inevitable death approaches.

Don’t Look Up has an impressive range of talents under its belt, demanding the attention of anyone who previews it. Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, and Ariana Grande, to name just a few, bring to life an array of caricatures. Bubbly talk show hosts, self-absorbed celebrities, and money-hungry politicians take turns looking science in its fiery, unyielding eyes and denying it outright, engaging in nonstop arguments with the only two voices of reason— and somehow always coming out unscathed.


The film is fast-paced and blood-boiling, ensuring that you want to tear your hair out and scream at Meryl Streep’s uncharacteristically smug face for the entire 138-minute runtime. The dialogue teeters between over-the-top ludicrosity and sobering realism; it clearly points fingers at real-life media personalities and politicians that exhibit similar attitudes and refuses to water down their ignorance. Some scenes lean too much into the caricatures and come off as corny, but the premise remains intact and believable. The plausibility of the “comet” situation and media reaction mirrors the harrowing reality we live in; as an obvious allegory for the accelerating climate crisis, Don’t Look Up reminds us of exactly how and why the environment is heading towards total decay and which systemic problems are to blame.


Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rotten and pitying 55%. To be fair, Mckay’s Don’t Look Up lacks nuance and bold ideas, instead infusing what we already know with a sense of existential dread and powerful anger. The comedic route is also a less effective form of delivery than a more serious satire that could delve even deeper into its criticisms. However, my agreement with the critics’ ratings ends there; as designed for a mass audience, rather than an audience of knowledgeable film enthusiasts, Don’t Look Up is a perfectly accessible and entertaining vessel for an urgent message. Grim comedy and familiar faces make the plotline easier to digest, easing the anxiety of the catastrophe. Overall, Don’t Look Up is not intended to be an innovative cultural masterpiece, and that’s okay. At its best, it is a sobering and well-scripted analysis of the twisted hierarchy of power that we live in, given credibility by its parallels to reality and a star-studded cast. At its worst, its comedy detracts from its effectiveness and the film leaves us feeling hopeless.


Don’t Look Up pleads for the world to listen to its vindication of America as we know it, and I believe it should be listened to. Packed with enough cynical cleverness and lively dialogue to keep you on your toes for the whole two and a half hours, it’s undoubtedly a worthy watch. Grab some popcorn and a few friends and check it out exclusively on Netflix.

REVIEW: Beach House – Once Twice Melody

The music of the American duo Beach House is a vessel for dramatic and cinematic feelings; anything but simple, the deeply layered synthesizers and breathy vocals of the band create a soundscape so dreamlike and meditative that listening nearly becomes an out-of-body experience. Often labeled as “dream pop”, a genre combining pop melodies with dense effects and experimentation reminiscent of 90s shoegaze, Beach House’s distinct psychedelic sound has achieved incredible commercial success. The enchanting melancholia of “Space Song” earned the track 300 million streams on Spotify. In 2022, they return to the world of music with a highly anticipated eighth studio album, Once Twice Melody.

The album is divided into four chapters–– or discs–– which are released periodically. The second chapter was released on December 8th, and the upcoming two chapters are set to be released by February. Judging by the half of the album that is already available, containing stellar tracks such as the surreal title track “Once Twice Melody”, the album is set to be one of Beach House’s best–– both conceptually and production-wise. The introduction of each track is reminiscent of a film score set in space; layered strings and experimental glimmering sounds evoke an atmosphere rich in color, existentialism, and a deep longing for the past. The vague and breathy lyrics, when decipherable, suggest deep retrospection and romantic tragedy. The lyrics of “Pink Funeral” on Disc 1 mirror the poetic artistry of the sound itself:


“Once was a fairy tale
Then it all went to hell
Swans on a starry lake
Hearts that were made to break
Tears through a white lace veil”


From the relatability of lost love in “Runaway” to the inevitable end of whirlwind fling in “New Romance”, Beach House balances their experimental sound with accessible themes and messages. Their most powerful messages, however, are found less in the lyrics than in the outros and instrumentals; marked by the slow build of reverberating sparkling melodies and fuzzy echoes, the sound of Beach House only seems fitting for observing the uncompromising mysteries of space and embracing the beauty of the unknown. The theme of love paired with the dark magical ambiance creates a stark contrast; while singing about the fallibility of humanity, the music explores a celestial landscape that transcends human matters.

Whether pondering the paradoxes of existence or lingering on a failed love story, Beach House’s ethereal release Once Twice Melody has a track to accompany your introspection. The excitement has just begun–– fans of the first two discs can eagerly await the second half of the album, offering a slower process of enjoying the art form. The first two discs of the EP are currently available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms.

Just one day after the planned release of the last disc, Beach House comes to Detroit to perform at the Royal Oak Theatre. Get tickets while you can to enjoy the music in person on February 19th–– or, if Once Twice Melody speaks to you, consider exploring the rest of Beach House’s discography.

REVIEW: The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch is a display of director Wes Anderson’s uninhibited ambition, manifesting itself in a whirlwind of drama and colorful characters. The film does not stick to a single narrative but rather tells three stories in long segments. Each story is a vignette written by a journalist for The French Dispatch, an international outpost of an American newspaper that operates in a dreary French town by the name of Ennui-sur-Blasé. Everything is mundane— even the name of the fictional town translates to “boredom-on-apathy”— except for the dedicated journalists, the invigorating stories they release to the world, and the eccentric people involved in the stories. Thus the typical Anderson irony begins. This film is, at its core, a celebration of journalists and a love letter to all things literary and artistic. It is an Anderson classic: upbeat, artistic, and a bit pretentious, but its unfamiliar structure makes it feel fresh.

Each scene is rich with deadpan humor, rarely outright saying a joke but implying it in every corner of the frame. The juxtaposition of the still-faced, sharp-tongued characters and their chaotic predicaments against the colorful backdrop feels unnatural, as is the constant narration that overlays the stories, but they both add to the unique nostalgia of the film. Rather than experiencing the stories myself, I am being guided through them like a picture book. The visuals add to the book-like atmosphere— black-and-white scenes, entirely animated scenes, and experimental lighting exaggerate the easily-missed emotions. The world is symmetrical, well-color-coordinated, and moving in synchronicity, just as a storybook world should. Wes Anderson’s films stick with me for this reason— not because they are believable in the slightest but because they revive a childlike amusement. The unrealistic twists and turns in each segment are comical and effortlessly engaging. However, the sentimentality of his films is usually amplified by emotional depth. This is where The French Dispatch falters. The three-story structure and quick pace refuse to allow us to get attached to one character for too long or watch the slow development of relationships. I gravitated toward the recognizable faces and quirky personalities (such as the mustache-wearing and disheveled teenage rebel played by Timothée Chalamet) but the characters disappear shortly after they serve their purpose.

The French Dispatch manages to be a sensory feast on top of an exciting tangle of stories but the combination is nearly exhausting. From the hard-to-catch humor to the drastic time jumps, I attempted to absorb everything yet desperately needed to let my senses rest. It is also overwhelming in its organization, as the stories have no connection besides the journalists publishing them, so the film is difficult to process as a sum of all its parts. The French Dispatch is not a casual watch if you want to enjoy all its beauty; it requires patience, energy, and an attention span, and an estimated two or three watches.

As a sum of its visuals, script, and diverse storylines, each element of The French Dispatch is crafted in a way that maximizes Anderson’s quirky innocence and childlike fun. Anderson may have been trying to emphasize too much of his signature style in one film, resulting in entertainment so constant that it is almost nauseating. The French Dispatch is an exhilarating masterpiece but it is a masterpiece that needs to be prepared for.