Sunday, September 11th, 2011

I took in a matinee showing of Contagion with My Darling B this morning, which was a little weird. Not that the movie itself was weird, watching it at ten o’clock in the morning was. Movies ought to be watched at night, don’t you think? We do, but for reasons we can’t quite put our fingers on. But we went to the ten o’clock show anyway because B wanted to garden this afternoon and Tim was supposed come over for dinner in the evening. Morning was really the only time we had free to go see it. So off we went.

Apparently almost everybody else thinks watching a movie in the morning is pretty weird, too, because there were only five or six other people seated when the movie started. I don’t know if anybody else came in after because I was too freaked out by the movie.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s about an outbreak of a flu-like virus that quickly spreads all over the world after Gwyneth Paltrow visits Hong Kong and comes home with the sniffles. Less than fifteen minutes later (in movie time) she was stretched out on an autopsy table having the top of her skull sawed off. Right there I knew I would like this movie, if only because I couldn’t remember the last Hollywood film I saw that killed off a major star so quickly.

And then, there’s Elliott Gould. I suppose you could cast Elliott Gould in a movie and it would still be a stinker – look at Ocean’s Twelve, for instance – but for the most part he’s like a good-luck rub, one of those talismans you touch on your way to do something really important to bring yourself luck. Elliott Gould appeared in three scenes for no more than five minutes and still he made this movie better for being there. I love that man, even if it means I’ll be up all night tonight re-watching M*A*S*H.

But mostly, this was a very tightly-written, well-directed movie with lots of very watchable people in it. I’ve missed watching Kate Winslet work her magic. I’ve loved watching Lawrence Fishburne Jr. since the first time I saw him dancing to “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in Apocalypse Now. And I don’t know where Jennifer Ehle came from, but I hope she gets lots more parts like the one she got in this movie so she can show off what she can do in front of a camera.

When I told my mother I went to see this movie she said she saw the previews for it but hadn’t gone to see it because it looked like it was “kind of a bummer, wasn’t it?” Well, yes, I guess any movie that killed off a large chunk of the world population would have to be considered “kind of a bummer.” I guess my advice to Mom and anybody else who felt as she did after seeing the trailer would be: Try not to think of it as a movie about the decimation of the planet and more as a taut cinematic thriller, and maybe it won’t be quite the bummer you’re worried it might be.

Contagion | 8:25 pm CST
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