"I went to a place to eat. It said 'breakfast at any time.' So I ordered french toast during the Renaissance". --Steven Wright ... If you are a devotee of time travel, check out this song...

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Leave the World Behind: Educated Apocalypse

I've seen Leave the World Behind, up earlier this month on Netflix after a limited release in theaters in November, described as a horror movie, and, even more often, said in reviews to be horrible.  I think it's neither.  It's an apocalypse narrative, happening in real time, and based on science and tech.  And I thought it was quite good.

Here's what I most liked about it:

  • Clay Sandford (played by Ethan Hawke) is a professor of English & Media Studies.  Ruth Scott (Myha'la) says she never has been able to figure out what Media Studies is.  I'm a professor of Communication and Media Studies (at Fordham University), and I sometimes agree.
  • As the apocalypse unfolds, self-driving Teslas are smashing into one another and blocking the entrance to a highway.
  • Sandford's daughter Rose watches The West Wing -- but only the Aaron Sorkin episodes.
  • The same daughter loves Friends.

Now admittedly none of that has much to do with the plot, but, hey, I believe in getting whatever you can from a movie, and the plot wasn't too bad, either.  Without giving anything specific away (so I don't have to warn you about spoilers), the apocalypse hinges on getting people even more at each other's throats than they already are in our reality today, and the solution is only attainable if they/we learn to work together. That's a crucial lesson, given what's going on day by day in the world around us.

I think the characters worked well together.  They each had a believable story, and one which was well synched to their age.   The acting was excellent.   Every person in the cast, ranging from Julia Roberts to Myha'la (whom I hadn't seen before) put in a convincing performance, not easy when you're playing a character in a story about the end of the world as we know it.  So I say kudos to Mr. Robot's Sam Esmail, who directed and wrote the movie, based on Rumaan Alam's novel.

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