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 Woody AllenSpain, United States | 2011
Midnight in Paris is a beautiful movie, bursting with hope, love and an appreciation of one of the world’s greatest cities on par with De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. Sure, it’s cliche to build a movie around the idea that Paris is the romance capital of the world—but Allen makes a strong case; he takes great pains to make the city of the present just as alluring and full as the Paris of the past, a reinforcement of his thesis that people can find excitement and inspiration in their everyday lives and that nostalgia is as much of a prison as a bad relationship.