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Old January 5 2012, 04:19 PM   #28
stj
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Re: Movies Seen in 2012

Contagion. This was an excellent movie. It is of course SF, but likely was not perceived as such because it wasn't stupid. As a presentation of a possible scenario for a novel pandemic of highly lethal proportions it is remarkably clever.
This goes to the scriptwriter, who of course did not have his name repeated enough for me to remember. As near as I can remember this has no resemblance to any of Soderbergh's previous works, illustrating the relative unimportance of the director.

I suppose the most important decision was the soundtrack. They opt for the rapid, urgent beat in most cases. This builds the tension, so the actual scenes can be underplayed. The result is a powerful blend of feeling and thought. (I seem to remember people talking about coldness and am completely baffled as to how someone can find this unfeeling. Unless they can only feel for characters they identify with? It seems to me that ordinary viewers can identify with pretty much anyone realistically drawn because fundamentally there's not that much difference between us. None of these people are perfect, and even the heroic acts have easily intelligible motivations. Even the experimenter who tests a vaccine on herself is aware of the doctor who did the same....and won a Nobel!.)

There is I think a little too easy an assumption that chaos inevitably results in a catastrophe, leadng to mass lawlessness. This may be true in the US where the powerful relentlessly hammer home that only money matters. (It's a necessary self-justification, after all.) But as the earthquake in Haiti showed, this is not necessarily true in saner societies. The Jude Law character is a sharp expression of the damage done this way. But the same type of behavior as Law's would still occur in the corporate sector, and that gets a free ride, while government, military and the people at large do not.
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