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    « Moneyball Review -- So Tired Of All These Moneyballs | Main | Commercial Break: Sometimes It's Hard Defending Gamers »

    Contagion Review -- Worth It For "Cthulu Paltrow"

    Never Forget.
    I use to have a sizable crush on Gwyneth Paltrow. I know, it’s ridiculous. A young, black male raised in the inner-city projects could never have a chance with Hollywood’s most notable trust fund actress. Don’t worry, I’ve since seen the truth about Gwyneth “Goop” Paltrow. A truly bittersweet end to a long-time infatuation. Said end shall be punctuated with one of the most horrific-looking seizure faces in all of cinema. Contagion will function as a hilarious and awkward end to a love affair that was destined for doom.

    Director, Stephen Soderbergh appears to be going through some form of directorial acid trip. It’s appreciated. This is the same director who shot the brilliant and well-paced Oceans 11 and The Good German film. Soderbergh, apparently decided to huff some airplane glue and direct a film focused on door handles, handshakes and my personal favorite, extramarital affairs.

    It’s not that Contagion isn’t an excellent film-going experience. Quick aside: be sure to show this film during your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be a real hit. Allow me to get a bit film-nerdy. The cinematography is almost overbearingly effective. Though the ensemble cast is more than capable of holding your attention, it’s the errant shots of mutually touched cups and handles that play larger roles.

    Kate Winslet plays Dr. Erin Mears, a doctor that specializes in pandemic control. A great deal of Contagion delves into communication. The importance of a disease outbreak needs to be known by the general populous, but how do you tell that to people without the average human behaving like the average ape?
    It’s no wonder why noted celebrity germaphobes, Howard Stern and Howie Mandell* hug instead of handshake. Soderbergh’s background leans more towards cinematography than it does of the director nature. Scenes filled with scientific pandemic outbreak dialogue may not be the scintillating tension the average viewer is looking for around this Halloween season. However, need I remind you Gwyneth Paltrow has a ‘seize-face’ that works both comically and terror-wise.

    Contagion isn’t perfect, much like Paltrow’s recipes for becoming a modern day yuppie. There are portions of the film that joust between the brilliance and illogical. Are we to believe that in the world of Contagion someone like Sanaa Lathan is married to a Lawrence “I’m Still Morpheus” Fishburne? Aren’t they, like, twenty years apart in age? Who am I to judge. Hell, I had a crush on a privileged anorexic actress for damn near a decade.

    There is still something off about Contagion. Maybe it’s that the leaps of logic within character plots that aren’t fleshed out in a satisfactory manner? With such a talented ensemble cast, it is disappointing that Soderbergh couldn’t rise to the occasion. It is acceptable to start a tale giving the audience no bearings of how a catastrophe began. It is even passable to to end a film without an absolute summation. However, characters like Jude Law and Marion Cotillard aren’t given much meat to play with.

    Scene stealer Jennifer Ehle plays inhabits one of the more standout roles in Contagion. Before news of an all out epidemic breaks, doctors like Dr. Ally Hextall must present an option of a cure.
    What accent is Cotillard invoking when she’s playing a Dr. Leonara Orantes? Why are we trying to ugly-fy Jude Law by horrendously pasting on a fake tooth, reinforcing British dental-work stereotypes. His character is so broad and generic it’s a wonder how Law made anything interesting out of this conniving reporter role. I guess there needed to be some gender balance of ugly represented given that Paltrow looked like a waif version of Cthulu.

    All in all, I liked Contagion. Why else would I write so spiritedly? Okay, other than my extreme distaste of a be-seizured actress. Man, I just wish it was real. When Contagion is at its best, you’re watching Fishburne and Winslett effortlessly demonstrate why they are masters of their craft. Even the supporting cast have surprising moments. When Contagion is at its worst, you’re watching a movie that is occasionally a documentary. Overly explanatory about a joke you want so badly to get to its punchline. The best kind of horror is what you don’t see. Contagion works in this regard. After watching, looking at door handles, bathrooms and Gwenyth Paltrow’s face will never be the same.

    See it, but don’t seek it.
    I give Contagion ...






    The "Guy Who Ordered Two Bear House Slippers From China, But They Screwed Up The Measurements. Now He Can Sleep In One Of The Slippers" Award




    *Finally. I’ve referenced both Howard Stern and Howie Mandell germaphobia in a review. I can die happy.


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