Contagion reviews

Mister Tee
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Re: Contagion reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:04 pm

I don't know reactionary's the right word. Yeah, they could have left Jude Law's situation more ambiguous. On the other hand, in the Marion Cotillard thread, I think they offer a clear case of government duplicity, and her ultimate action seems to put the filmmakers on the rebel side. In general the film does take the view that medical professionals in such a crisis would be mostly dedicated to resolving it and not making decisions for the evil proft-centered reasons Law keeps claiming. Have we come to the point in our view of government that that position is considered reactionary?

Speaking of professionalism...that's what I enjoyed about the film: the talent and experience of the filmmakers. It's a Hollywood effort, but not a dopey Hollywood effort. Right from the slightly disorienting opening frame, the movie grabbed me with a clear-eyed narrative and carried me along lickety-split. It's not an actor/character movie overall, but it never hurts to have high-calibre actors aboard. Mostly, though, this is a Soderbergh/Mirrione effort, one that engaged me on a grown-up level -- something that feels really good after a dreary summer season.

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Re: Contagion reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:18 pm

I'm going to try to write a little bit about every movie I saw this year, I hope. But since I just came back from Contagion, some a few very quick thoughts. I'm very mixed on it. This film was a real cold, clinical fish. As filmmaking, it's mostly very effective; as a screenplay, it's Hollywood, with characters mouthing dialogue nobody in real life would utter and doctors informing each other of things I'm sure they wouldn't really need to were it not for the benefit of movie audiences to understand such information. And since it's a film that's global in scope, the more intimate human emotions and connections are given short shrift. What is constant is the overall feeling of dread and discomfort, but it never seems to break through into panic or dispair. A mini-series would probably have been a better format for this material. Matt Damon registers as a fully developed character - which isn't surprising, since his story-line is the only one which satisfactorily deals with the crises on a human scale - and I enjoyed Jennifer Eheles look of mild madness as she injected herself with a vaccine of her own devising. On the other end of the spectrum is Jude Law, as the crazy blogger with a huge following who makes "outrageous" claims that the government is deceitful. Putting aside the conception of the role as written, it's the sort of dreadful showboating performance that gets nominated.


ETA: Now that I think about it, I'm surprised at how reactionary the film was.
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Contagion reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:33 pm

Screen Daily

Contagion
3 September, 2011 | By John Hazelton

Dir: Steven Soderbergh. US. 2011. 103mins

Chilly but sometimes truly scary, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion tries to do for infectious disease what the director’s Traffic did for illegal drugs. Though not as sure-footed as Soderbergh’s 2000 multiple Oscar-winner, this broad canvas thriller could still, with its impressive ensemble cast and ripped-from-the-headlines topicality, attract critical attention and a decent amount of upmarket audience interest.

Most impressive are Fishburne, Winslet and Law, who adds a note dark humour.
Having screened out of competition at the Venice festival, the Warner/Participant/Imagenation production opens in North America on September 9, getting a jump on the start of the autumn serious season. Performing on a par with Soderbergh’s biggest mainstream movies seems unlikely but Contagion should easily beat the disappointing take of The Informant!, the director’s previous Warner/Participant project.

International locations and the multi-national cast will help when Warner begins the autumn global rollout.

The script, by Informant! writer Scott Z Burns, tracks the global spread of a deadly virus - a bat/swine flu variant that quickly leads to fatal brain haemorrhage - through multiple viewpoints and on multiple levels, mixing victims’ personal stories with scientists’ race for a vaccine and politicians’ efforts to avert panic.

An international business traveller (Gwyneth Paltrow in a brief role) first picks up the virus and takes it back to her husband (Informant! star Matt Damon in a lengthier performance) and child in Chicago. As the disease spreads to millions in London, Paris, Tokyo and other cities, an American health official (Laurence Fishburne) struggles to control the crisis and a young doctor (Kate Winslet) goes to investigate outbreaks.

Meanwhile, a World Health Organisation representative (Inception’s Marion Cotillard) tries to track the virus back to its Asian source and a scrappy blogger (Jude Law with an Australian accent) spreads theories about possible cures.

The story isn’t obvious thriller material but Burns introduces some clever devices - like beginning the action on ‘Day 2’ - to keep the tension up and gives a couple of the main characters interesting moral shading.

Soderbergh mostly avoids showy scenes of panic in the streets and frothing victims (though Paltrow gets one coldly gruesome moment), focussing instead on sombre realism and small details — the innocent touches and coughs that help the virus on its way and the scared faces of newly infected sufferers.

The approach works well at first but the film loses some tension and momentum in its third act as the scientists and politicians begin to get the outbreak under control.

The cast also avoids histrionics, with some of the performances being a bit too restrained for their own good. Most impressive are Fishburne, Winslet and Law, who adds a note dark humour.

The cool tone in nicely enhanced by the cinematography - Soderbergh, credited as Peter Andrews, shot the film using the RED digital camera - and Cliff Martinez’s electronica rock score.


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