Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.
— Dr. Ian Sussman, Contagion
I’m really loving how Brooks delves into the psychology of fear and the impact of globalization on political science and human interaction. There are echoes of (harbingers to?) Contagion in this text that I find fascinating.
To me, the film that has come out of the last few weeks looking most like a contender is one that nobody in the Oscarverse is talking about. If I told you that a movie made by an Academy Award-winning director starring eight previous acting nominees (four of them winners) opened in first place at the box office and received extremely positive reviews, you’d be thinking it’s in the mix, right? So why aren’t more people — okay, why isn’t anyone — high on the awards chances of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion?
Holy shit, y’all, I love it when we get to start arguing about Oscar races and chances. Grantland has an incredible piece on why Contagion shouldn’t be forgotten in the prognostication that overtakes Hollywood around this time each year. For the record, I also love Mark Harris’s reading of the actresses from The Help and their ultimate chances regarding Oscar recognition come next year.
In Contagion, Steven Soderbergh gets brusquely to the point: the sound of a cough before there’s even an image, then the sight of poor, doomed Gwyneth Paltrow — Patient Zero — showing signs (red eyes, dark circles, phlegm) of the virus that will quickly finish her off. An onscreen title reads, “Day 2,” which is a good, sick joke announcing there’ll be none of the clunky expository foreplay you’d get in something by Roland Emmerich, who has a gift for juxtaposing two-bit soap-opera mawkishness and million-dollar CGI. Soderbergh is the anti-Emmerich: He won’t even let Gwynny show off her long stems. Contagion, which was written by Scott Z. Burns, bumps along as if it had been pared down from an eight-hour mini-series to a lean, unusually mean 90 minutes. There are fast montages of contact: people in airports brushing past, coughing on, or handing money (another kind of virus) to one another, Hong Kong infecting Chicago infecting Tokyo in seconds. New settings are introduced with the name of the city and the number of residents — i.e., the number of corpses that might soon line the streets, the candidates for contagion.
I saw this last night, and cannot wait to see it again. I liked the clinical feel that David Edelstein references, as it emphasizes the passions stirred by the panic the virus creates. I love that Soderbergh doesn’t back down from the intellectual strength of this story and understands there are those of us out there craving an astute and perspicacious disaster film.
But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you
Contagion, the Stephen Soderbergh–directed film that debuted at the Venice Film Festival last week and hits theaters on Friday, tracks a deadly bird-flu-like virus as it plagues (or kills) a number of very famous people. From the looks of the trailer, the mysterious virus eventually infects most of the globe, but none (as far as we can tell) suffer a pasty, seizure-y death quite like that of Gwyneth Paltrow. Not only does Gwyneth die right there in the trailer, she dies ugly: We’re talking bug-eyes, visible sweat, and maybe a hint of a floppy tongue. (Watch closely, or maybe in slow-mo; You can see it start to wag.) Even more humiliating, her gross Death Face is being used on the movie’s posters to up the “scare factor.” The rest of the all-star cast get Terrified Glamour Shots, and Paltrow is stuck on the bottom left, gasping her last, unpretty breath. It’s all extremely unflattering. But it might also be very smart, yet another stop on the briskly moving “Gwyneth Paltrow has a sense of humor about herself” train.
First of all, I still don’t understand why people have a problem with her. It doesn’t change the fact that this movie is going to be awesome.
(Not to mention that photo deserves an automatic reblog)