Photo: Netflix

Don’t Look Up – Streaming on Netflix

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” Feel great actually, if the spin doctors in Don’t Look Up get their way. (Lyrics courtesy of REM)

One of the better moments in the new Netflix film “Don’t Look Up” comes when TV morning show hosts Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry, who have great chemistry and are forever cheerful, are informed that a comet is headed toward Earth. They both make a brief gesture of incredulity and then happily move on to the next pointless story. Mass media at its best!

Although Adam McKay’s star-studded film has been widely criticized, taken for what it is, a madcap satire out to show the idiocy of the anti-science crowd, I found it to be quite entertaining. The casting was excellent, allowing several A-listers like Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jonah Hill to move beyond their comfort zone.

Sure, it felt zany at times but so do films like Dr. Strangelove and Network, well-respected precursors with a similar dynamic. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be deeply awakened by the film, that’s not the intention. (Just a little, perhaps.) It’s a farce. In what other sci-fi movie do scientists repeatedly ask if a study was peer-reviewed? Point taken. (Ken Abrams)

Hawkeye – Streaming on Disney+

Rating: 4 out of 5.

               The last Avenger to get a spinoff series, Hawkeye, ended its run late in December, and by making it about family, biological and extended, Disney+ has created an instant Christmas classic.

            Touching on issues like grief, PTSD, guilt, impairment/loss of ability, while dealing with the hero-worship of fan and fellow archer (Hailee Steinfeld), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must take on the reluctant role of mentor and protector to bury a shameful part of his history while at the same time guarding his family.

            As the series progresses, fan-girl Kate Bishop tries to give Hawkeye marketing tips, while he warns her that she needs to remain in the shadows to survive, especially since their enemies keep multiplying.

            By the end of the series, Hawkeye has fought who he needs to fight, convinced other foes they weren’t really enemies, acted as father, brother and mentor; and in the end proves why he was probably the wisest of all the Avengers. And how could you not want to watch a show with a faux Broadway show, “Rogers the Musical,” and a character named, “Lucky the Pizza Dog?” (Thom Cahir)

Being the Ricardos – Streaming on Amazon Prime

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Now streaming on Amazon, The Ricardos tells the story of a challenging week in the life of the first couple of American comedy, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. It’s received mixed reviews, and I came away with a similar response.

There’s certainly a lot going on that week in the Ricardo’s lives. (The events portrayed actually took place over a period of several years.) Lucy is being investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for once registering to vote as a Communist. She’s suspicious of her husband, who is spending a lot of time “playing cards” with the boys, and she’s about to share her pregnancy with the world, expecting to build it into the show. The reactions of her co-stars are unsettling, there’s no support or celebration, just dread that the show could be canceled. (Thankfully, values and network censors have evolved.)   

No doubt, The Ricardos is entertaining, and it’s affirming to see how much power Lucille Ball yielded. (Don’t forget, she later became the first female CEO of a Hollywood production company, Desilu.) As Executive Producer of the TV show in the film, Arnez was boss, although Lucy had full veto power, with Arnez generally respecting the limits she set … well, at least in their professional lives.

I find I’m trying too hard to convince myself that Kidman’s performance worked. It didn’t for me. There was little joy in her portrayal of Lucy, perhaps the greatest female comedian of all-time. Kidman’s typical searing performance just doesn’t play very well here. Still, I found the film worthwhile, with strong performances from supporting cast members including Javier Barden, J.K. Simmons, and Nina Arianda. (Ken Abrams)

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines.
Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse," a roots/folk/rock radio show every Tuesday, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM. He is a former educator in the Scituate, RI school system where he taught Social Studies for over 30 years.
Ken is presently on the board of the Rhode Island Folk Festival and Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music), a non-profit that brings diverse musical acts to the Newport area.