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Apoxalypse Now!

Even with bans against slobs eating on public transportation, spitting fines, and employees must wash hands signs, we’ve seen plenty of deadly epidemics in our world’s history – everything from the Bubonic Plague to Taco Bell’s E. coli and Bieber Fever. I’m nagged daily on my germaphobia, if not with a lecture on weakening my immunity, then with a look like I’m a freak for protecting a hand with my sleeve around door knobs or train poles. So to all my touchy-feely friends, sorry if my hugs seem like I’m wearing a surgical mask but after seeing Contagion  you might finally get it. I’m sure it won’t be long until we see “pass the Purell” in the American lexicon as Sodergbergh rounds up more A-list actors than Robert Altman, utilizing intercutting stories and subplots in this global pandemic flick (making Nashville look like a family picnic!).

Before Kate Winslet has a chance to get naked she plays doctor specializing in epidemic cures and we are on edge (trying to ignore the mouth breather sitting next to us and biochem Demitri Martin) with our infected cast, and dead Gwen lying on a autopsy table with her head sliced open and forehead peeled back, and Matt Damon, demanding to know “What happened to her!!?”….”What happened to her!!!?” He and the rest of the world sure manage to keep their heads on straight, not dropping one cuss word when I would be losing my fucking shit!! Meanwhile, back at the laboratory, biologists, the CIA, Homeland Security, and Elliot Gould all work to find a vaccine – spearheaded by Dr. Fishburne as Jude Law shows the power of a video blog vs. the printed media, accusing the Government for lying to the public and insinuating a massive conspiracy perpetuated by the pharmaceutical companies. Perhaps I too should wear a snaggle tooth to get some more subscribers? But as lab-coats get lost in a game of ring around the rosy with accusations against Fishburne for secretly advising his chick over the general public to leave the cootie zone, the story forgets all it’s compelling premises and angles; Damon’s immunization, biological warfare, nefarious plots of genocide, and literally turns to some batshit crazy excuse.

(Bubble Boy!)

Sucks Bryan Cranston didn’t have his Breaking Bad chemistry set. Thankfully Soderbergh’s eye paired with Stephen Mirrione editing move us through these pending plots with a spooky pulsating electronic score to keep us on pace and at least raise the question and possible scenarios in this day and age how the panic of the people will play out. But unfortunately Contagion’s characters are unfulfilled even with a vaccine shot up there nose. But what really left me hanging was the Doctor’s reaction to whatever the fuck was inside Gwen’s head?…Bedbugs?

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Wicked Wit of the Grit

Usually I count the days in anticipation for the release of the latest Coen Bros’ film but since their first remake, Ladykillers, didn’t kill, this time around I was a bit dubious after seeing True Grit‘s too revealing trailer and cliche “wanted” font poster. But as it began I was immediately drawn in by the precocious 14yr old girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) and her no nonsense determination to catch her Father’s killer to see him hang. But I felt like hanging myself when seeing how the Coen’s staged the typical western town without a speck of grime anywhere, (almost rivaling the Boardwalk Empire set) and DP Deakin’s clean, streaming pools of light.

(Fort Smith, Ark 1878)

The only redeeming aspect of the town scenes was Mattie’s bargaining with town businessman (the scene also read for their open auditions) and her witnessing a brutal yet comical hanging of three men – though local P.C. film critic, J. Hoberman, begs to differ.

“The Coens are still themselves. As one colleague remarked—unprompted—upon leaving the screening where True Grit was previewed for New York critics, “They always do something to make you hate them.” (In my case, the moment happened early on with a gag based on the hanging of a—dare one say—Native American.)”

Hey J, most of John Wayne’s movies portray Indians like shit and far worse, that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of The Searchers. Though he does redeem himself in his review by citing the influence of Night Of The Hunter and it’s fable qualities he’s still more of a pompous douche than I am, I mean just look at his top ten list! From the likes of Alice in Wonderland to Little Red Riding these fables and fairy tales capture the innocence and fears of a young girl’s coming of age and so does Coen Bros. treatment and approach to their western. The Coen’s foray into this genre is not exactly groundbreaking (unlike No Country for Old Men) but they do infuse it with their usual eccentric brand of humor while being faithful more to the novel than Wayne’s version.

The casts’ delivery of dialogue are perfectly paced, Bridges as a drunk washed up sheriff, with insight from The Dude’s, and Matt Damon an overly confident Texas Ranger, like Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. The only fault in the film’s casting is the 40 year old Mattie Ross, who appears to look like a 60 year old Agnes Moorehead rather than the young Hailee. I know the western frontier and a snake bite will age you but talk about a country bumpkin!

But this tiny blemish is nothing compared to the sappy soundtrack. Nevertheless the Coens continue their prolific output and again leave me wanting more.

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