January 3, 2022 (Happy New Year)

Happy New Year to one and all. As we here in Toronto head back into more restrictions from Covid and the ever-rapid spread of Omicron, it feels as though the optimism for early 2022 is dissipating from what we had in the Fall of 2021. The silver lining in a cloud of ugliness is that there seems to be less extreme symptoms and fewer hospitalizations. At least for those who have been vaccinated. The requirement for booster shots I can foresee coming in the very near future. But we can all hold our collective breaths and hope for the best.

Don’t Look Up: Recently released on Netflix, a viewer may wonder how so many mega-stars are part of this project. With the likes of Oscar winners Leo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and many others the impressive cast takes on the story directed by Adam McKay, who was involved in The Big Short. The story is really a tongue in cheek ridiculous commentary of life in 2021, about the end of the world. Scientists have observed a 9 km wide comet that is going to make a direct hit on Earth. This would be an extinction level event. The scientists are DiCaprio and Lawrence who then go through traditional channels (NASA, government) to try and get the message out. They are met with skepticism, questioning and a desire to put a positive spin on the story. The same occurs when the media is approached. The obvious metaphor for all of this is Global Warming. What is a scientific fact is then considered in the public eye to be conjecture and a conspiracy theory. In the US the camps looking to do something then get impacted by political and business interference. The story goes on. It’s a sad commentary on where we are today. Politicians waffle, the public considers everything to be one side versus another politically and a personal imposition on their individual rights. The rest of the world can’t seem to get itself organized as well. It is so tragic in a “fact” that is eventually capable of being seen from the ground, thus the campaign to “not look up” to see the actual comet as it hurtles towards Earth. Is it interesting? Yes. Like The Big Short, it signifies a failing in the social media, along with leaders who are incapable of leading, and a distrust in government, science and fellow humans which leaves us paralyzes to act; even when a collective action can actually save the planet. Worth a viewing when one understands the ultimate aim.

King Richard: Will Smith stars in this film about tennis’ Williams sisters rise into fame. The focus is on the father who was committed to his daughters becoming these stars in tennis when saw a professional tennis player earn $40,000 for a weekend of work. He made $52,000 at the time. He told his wife that it was time to make two new babies to play tennis. This is an over simplification of course. He was a determined (to say the least),committed father to these girls as he taught them dedication, attitude, and a goal-based approach to life to achieve what he predicted as their destinies, in much the same way that Earl Woods felt about his prodigy Tiger. Both men were right. Richard Williams was raised in Louisiana and took his life experiences in shaping his girls. He was raising the girls in Compton outside LA. Note that for this movie, Venus is more the focus as she was 14yo at the time. Serena was 12yo. Both girls look older. There are times when I wished that the Richard character would say less and listen more. It was especially true when having the coaches around the girls. But it was also in dealing with an endorsement deal for Venus. He turns out to be right, and had very good instincts but the message as delivered is harsh. Veins of truth run in the teachings. What is hinted at by the Mom, was that Richard had a previous wife and previous children in his life. But they are not a focus at all. Some take exception to that, since he basically abandoned them. As a movie, I feel as though much of it is sugar-coated. Venus and Serena are actually producers on the project. So there has to be a ring of truth, but maybe memories as a youngster fade as your success and fame grow. Certainly the ends justified the means in this case. It is worth a watch. I don’t see any awards, but that isn’t what all movies are striving for anyway.

The Book of Boba Fett (episode 1): I was skeptical from the beginning about this new series from Disney. As I think more on it, I don’t think that anything that Disney has added to the Star Wars universe has been very good, save Rogue One. The rest spin the Star Wars characters in ways that don’t work for me. This opening episode in a new series, following the success of The Mandalorian follows the original trilogy bounty hunter Boba Fett. We are introduced to Boba Fett who is tracking down Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back. He ultimately takes away a frozen Han to return him to Jabba the Hutt. He dies (let me underscore that!), he DIES, in one of the most lame ways in Return of the Jedi, off the Jabba’s Sail Barge. In a fight that Luke initiates, a Han Solo who can barely see from poor eye sight, turns and knocks the engine pack on Boba’s back and launches him into the barge, ultimately falling into the Sarlacc. The Sarlacc belches. That was the history. I wondered whether Disney would do a retrospective, and the back story to Boba Fett. This episode shows that they are looking to continue on the Fett story after the death of Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. My eyes glaze over with the explanation that they use for continuing on with his story. It doesn’t improve either. I can still not imagine using the same actor that we were introduced to in 2002 (twenty years ago) in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. He (Temuera Morrison) may be well preserved in a Sylvester Stallone kind of way, but let’s be real. Perhaps this may get better, it really can’t be much worse, but so far Disney’s body of work doesn’t leave for much optimism. Sure The Mandalorian was okay, but there wasn’t much added. On some level, it is a universe, so perhaps we can expand on the characters to be explored further and the worlds to be worthy of further discussion.

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