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Florence, Italy joins unlikely duo

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

No one should hear the names Michael Bay and Hannah Gadsby in the same sentence, but streaming changes that; both their newest projects show up as Netflix Originals, and both have a link with Renaissance art. Otherwise, their divide spreads wider than the Grand Canyon. Michael Bay aims for “Lowest Common Denominator” audiences with loud, mainstream blockbuster movies featuring big explosions and minimal scripts.Appealing to much more elitist demographics, Gadsby loads her show with talk, innovation, and intelligence. Targeting a “boys with toys” fanbase, Bay turns his Netflix money into a movie called Six Underground about a privately backed elite force. Headed by Ryan Reynolds as a multizillionaire, the team never lacks for firepower. They face a shortage in logic and sensibility, but that never stopped Bay in projects like The Transformers.Seeking fast action, Bay jumps around at such dizzying speed that plotting grows confusing. This proves an odd trait for the director, who usually relies on simplistic plots that every twelve-year-old boy can follow. Meanwhile in the slow lane, Gadsby follows her hit show Nanette with one called Douglas. Gadsby presented Nanette as a swan song, thinking she might quit comedy because of the serious issues that trouble her. She won both an Emmy and huge international audience for the show, enough to inspire her return. With Douglas, Gadsby retains the basics of her style—sometimes harsh, often needling but offset with a little grin when needed. Gadsby defies pigeon-holing, especially when getting into detailed explanation of how autism affects her thinking process. She presents it as funny, but her story about an altercation with a teacher ends up as an enlightening piece. And then comes her response to how men reacted to her other show, drawing a vague link to Michael Bay—who never comes up as part of her discussion about the way men perceive women and various objects.The connection between the comedian and director? In a mostly empty movie, Bay directs a terrific twenty-minute chase through Florence, heart of Renaissance Art. Meanwhile Gadsby lectures about Renaissance Art as she looks at how guys name things. Her interpretation almost explains Michael Bay.

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