Directed by Steven SoderberghUnited States | 2011
In a film where the putrid, lifeless shades of green, brown, and blue expose the clammy textures of hands and faces, it’s only natural that criticisms of misanthropy are raised, and that attempts to sketch a complete portrait of humanity fall short. Then again, Contagion is a horror film that’s more about process than people, and it becomes more effective the less it characterizes and individualizes. Not only does Soderbergh’s overflowing cast undercut the hegemony of the Hollywood star system, it situates people beneath the alien processes of nature. That no character takes center stage here – when Damon begins to, the film lurches awkwardly – is a testament to the collective paranoia at work, the fact that no individual is above the heedless trajectory of the virus.
Directed by Stephen SoderberghUnited States | 2011
The central problem, I think, is that Soderbergh invests so much into being a “cool” director that he forgets how important warm and likable characters are (or at least ones that are interesting beyond their descriptions). People give him crap for making the fluffy and obnoxious Ocean’s movies, but in terms of characterization, I see little qualitative difference between his indie and studio pictures. He could take a page from David Fincher, who manages to create slick worlds inhabited by intelligent and memorable people, instead of unrelatable vessels who act as if they were born when “Action” was called.
Directed by Steven SpielbergUnited States | 2001
Spielberg brings out the humanity of these robots in what is, aesthetically speaking, the film’s most garish and ill-considered setpiece. The Flesh Fair, a hick rodeo-cum-rock festival-cum-Luddite autodafé, is as gaudy and sloppy as the vision of the Lost Boys’ hideout in Hook, a collision of simplistic elements made into a collage of pop cultural items Spielberg clearly does not himself know. But the scene is also one of the film’s most vital, forcing the human backlash to mechas to confront its wildest fear: their true replacement. With David front and center (again surrounded by a halo), the crowd blanches, convinced he is a real child. Hobby earlier dodged the question of reciprocal love on behalf of mechas by responding, “Didn’t God create Adam to love Him?” Here, we clearly see mankind having taken on the role of deities.