October 21, 2016
        Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race                "The Jungle Book," "Zootopia" and Craft Artists to be Honored at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards        

“Contagion” movie review

HollywoodNews.com: The 106-minute cut of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is a generally engaging and always intelligent film. It is clearly Soderbergh’s attempt to play around in the Irwin Allen disaster genre in a style that befits the director’s more buttoned-down and vérité style. But like Traffic before it, this would-be epic feels like the abridged version of a much longer film. Traffic was supposed to be an all-encompassing look at the futility of America’s Drug War and the damage that it causes at home and abroad, but it played out like as a choppy, unfocused, ‘highlights-only’ variation of the British mini-series from which it was based. Contagion, which is not based on any prior source but rather an original Scott Z. Burns screenplay, has the same problem, even more so because it is nearly an hour shorter than Traffic. Contagion is more successful in imposing its viewpoint on the audience, and it’s arguably a better film, but I still can’t help but wonder how much more effective the 150-minute version of Contagion would have been.

A token amount of plot: Okay, this one is going to be easy. A flu-like illness seemingly originating from Hong Kong finds its way around the world and quickly starts racking up infections and a body count. As the virus spreads and the civilized world panics, those entrusted with containing and treating such an illness race against the clock to prevent full-scale devastation. That’s pretty much it. While the film is mostly focused on American scientists and American victims, it makes a point to show how this calamity is effecting the rest of the world as well. We focus on CDC scientists (Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle), US government/military officers (Bryan Cranston, Enrico Colantoni), and various outsiders looking in (Jude Law, Matt Damon).

Some of these peoples’ stories intersect while others are connected only by their common goal: survival in the face of a seemingly unstoppable pandemic. There are no real out-and-out villains, although we may disagree with the actions of at least a few major characters (Jude Law’s paranoid blogger skirts the line of villainy). But overall, the film is a clinical and seemingly objective look at intelligent and diligent professionals doing their job in the highest of high-stress situations, along with snapshots at how regular citizens are responding to the crisis. Matt Damon does fine and subdued work as the representative ‘every-man’, struggling to protect his daughter after his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and step-son die in the earliest days of the epidemic. But this is not a character melodrama, and some audiences may be turned off but the documentary-style approach and the clinical way that the story is told.

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

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About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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