Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just watched...

...Steven Soderbergh's frighteningly realistic film "Contagion."

Despite the fact that “Contagion” is not a documentary, this fact-based story about the deadly spread of an unknown virus seems so entirely plausible and real that one might wonder why it hasn’t happened yet. But a quick glance through medical history shows us that, oh wait, it has. Look at SARS (Avian Flu), the Swine Flu, the Hong Kong Flu, the Spanish Flu… these epidemics killed millions and millions of people.

So what the film shows us is nothing new. The question is when will it happen again? And if this film is any indication, and I think it is, we are in for rough ride when it does. When fear takes hold of a city, state, country—the world—one can expect looting, shooting, food shortages, and medicine shortages as the contagion floats around, traveling from person to person, leaving them dead in its wake. The film has a lot to say about human greed, mass hysteria, and indifference.

But an element that is crucial to this story and its outcome is the dedicated work of scientists, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, as well as governments across the globe who worked—and hopefully will work when this happens for real—together. It is a testament to organized federal bodies, the kind that are and will be necessary. The current crop of insane, destructive Teabaggers and conservatives in this country want to dismantle American civilization and break the structures that would save them in the end. And the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to grow viruses, to identify them, and to come up with vaccines are men and women of science, not ignorant, terrified conservative Teabagging Republicans who think that higher education is somehow evil, and that allowing bad things to happen to those who are powerless to help themselves is the will of some desert god and his son. It is science that will save us, not religion. As the saying goes: stop praying, get up off your knees, and DO something real to help.

Steven Soderbergh’s direction is tight and effective and the large, star-studded cast—Marion Cottilard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Elliot Gould, Demetri Martin, and Enrico Colantoni among many others—is subtle and masterful. And the camera lingers on bus seats, door handles, glasses, anything that has been touched and infected, to show us how we get from one character to another, and how quickly the deadly virus spreads.

Recommend? Yes. It is scientifically accurate, suspenseful, and informative without being pedantic in the least.

And remember, do not talk to anyone and do not touch anyone...

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