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Archive for the ‘ Films ’ Category

Contagion Review

Contagion Movie Poster

Contagion Movie Poster

Contagion is a movie about the global outbreak of a new highly contagious infectious disease that kills rapidly and has spread around the world at an alarming rate. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s 11) and featuring a strong cast that includes Laurence Fishburne, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Brian Cranston, Marion Cottilard, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Paltrow plays a business exec who becomes sick while travelling and brings this disease back to the U.S. from Asia. When the disease begins spreading rapidly and killing the American population Admiral Haggerty (Cranston) calls on Fishburne, the head of the Centre for Disease Control, to investigate. Fishburne sends Dr. Lipkin (Winslet) out into the field to investigate further. Meanwhile the WHO (World Health Organisation) sends emotionally cold field agent Dr. Orantes (Cotillard) to Asia to attempt to uncover the source of the disease. Back in the U.S., Matt Damon plays a father/husband who has become very protective of his daughter after suffering two losses in his family already. Jude Law features throughout as Alan Krumwiede, an australian freelance journalist and conspiracy blogger who was first to uncover this disease.

If reading that above description felt long and a bit too much, then I completely agree and that is essentially the problem with this entire movie! There is far too much happening in it. The movie has the feel of an adaptation of a much larger book from which huge chunks have been cut to condense it into a more manageable film. It touches on far too much without giving enough of the desired detail. It teases by arousing interest in certain aspects of the plot then ignoring them again.

The acting is solid, it can’t really be faulted as the actors don’t appear to have been given much in terms of their characters. There are too many characters, too little time and as such they are very one-dimensional. We aren’t given any real background to the characters and rarely see them in any real situations to expose us to what kind of people they really are. That is, apart from Damon’s character. His character (Mitch Emhoff) is the most fleshed out character and Damon does a very good job of making him believable and ultimately have us root for him throughout.

You get the feeling that the movie attempted to be a little too clever and as a result ended up as a jack of all trades, but master of none. It touches on the emergence of completely new diseases, as have been seen in the last number of years with  “Bird Flu” and “Swine Flu”. It grabs our interest by mentioning the conspiracy that it may be “big pharmaceutical” creating these diseases so as to profit from the remedies then it leaves it at that. The movie refers to the dangers of pushing the widespread use of rushed vaccines without knowing the long-term effects, as happened with the ‘swine flu’ vaccine. It gives us a glimpse of the panic and hysteria that can spread, how society can turn on itself and easily disregard the cords that bind us –which is always an interesting angle –  then shows us no more.

Ultimately this movie is a decent effort, you can see what it attempted but it just doesn’t pull it off. It’s an alright watch if you’ve seen all else out now and want to scare yourself as to how easily disease can spread in a globalised world. However, you will never regret it if you don’t see this film. You may have covered all it’s basis if you’ve already seen films such as Outbreak.

Score:    3/5

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The Ides of March

The Ides of March

This latest directorial outing from George Clooney follows events that take place in the state of Ohio during the race to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for the U.S. Presidential election.

George Clooney is Governor Mike Morris, the frontrunner in the race and a candidate seen by many as a serious contender for the White House. The remaining all-star cast features Ryan Gosling as press secretary on the Morris campaign, the always excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman as Morris’ campaign manager, plus supporting roles for Paul Giamatti as campaign manager for the opposition and Marisa Tomei as a cutthroat political reporter.

Clooney wisely plays a character that doesn’t feature too heavily with regards to screen time, leaving himself ample time to concentrate on directing. The majority of the time he does spend as Morris would not have been too taxing either as the Governor’s easy charm and demeanour are essentially Clooney’s, as a viewing of most of his interviews will prove.

Gosling plays a character that is a very intelligent and politically savvy young man coveted by the opposition. Gosling’s character makes an error of judgement which leads to him being kicked off the team but not before he stumbles upon a dirty little secret that could bring down the entire campaign.

I would like say that it is at this point that the movie picks up pace but that’s not exactly correct. The plot progresses, certainly, but the pace is never fast, certainly not to the levels of a Grisham style thriller. The direction by Clooney in the movie is excellent so it can be assumed this was a conscious choice by the director, perhaps forgoing fast-paced set pieces for more cerebral calmer paced scenes to keep the movie more grounded in the realism of day-to-day political campaigning.

There are other beautiful shots in the movie such as a clandestine meeting in an empty restaurant and a fine ending scene which shows the transformation of one of the characters and a real hammering home of the disingenuousness and morality (or lack thereof) of politicians and politics as an industry.

You do also get the feeling that the movie is a sort of sounding board for some of Clooney’s own political views, with he himself being quite outspoken politically. Indeed comments by his character on the Iraq war are quite close to comments he himself has made.

In fact to watch this film, and certainly the opening half hour or so, one would want to be fairly knowledgable of the American Political system and specifically elections. The movie is well shot, well acted by an excellent cast and is kept pretty simple and realistic. It’s a statement about U.S. politics, both Republican and Democratic, and at this moment of time would leave Irish viewers even more cynical of politicians in general.

A very good movie, an interesting watch but not a classic. However,if politics is your thing then this is a must see.

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