Contagion: as a lethal virus spreads rapidly around the globe – we observe as the government, pharmaceutical industry and everyday people struggle through the pandemic. It’s always good to see an ensemble cast this big, but with the numbers involved some people go +30 minutes without an appearance, and each person’s angle feels underdeveloped. Too single one person; out I can’t tell if it was Jude Law, or the ridiculous blogger / twitter journalist he was playing, but that strand was just terrible. Other than the devastating virus and ensuing medical procedural hunt for a cure, there’s no single dominant story; there’s a slow build-up, mildly tense middle, and it ends quite abruptly as we just stop dipping in and out of the characters lives. Unlike most blockbusters the science is very realistic (on good authority from my buddy with a Master’s in Cellular Immunology). With the ultra realism in both content and a simple, minimal directorial style, you’re left with a ‘film’ that feels more like a discovery documentary / re-enactment – but with some familiar faces. The final product is a mildly depressing, Dell sponsored, montage heavy film that tries to juggle too much, with very little focus.
Titanic: What can you say about this that hasn’t already been said? The continual use of establishing shots and long swoops over the ship confirm that James Cameron was all about the spectacle, size, scale and cutting-edge GCI at the time (sounds familiar…) Although nobody’s looking at her face for the last half hour Winslett’s acting is sketchy at best, DiCaprio out-classes her like you wouldn’t believe but looks sooooo young. It all gets a bit too epic and stupid near the end: gun-fight, child rescue and too many scenes of real-time sinking and survival – although the limp bodies smashing off the railings / propellers are pretty cool! For me, the musician’s sacrifice is the saddest part of the film by a long shot. Overall Titanic is too long, and the present day story’s adds nothing, just serves to deliver some corny / cheesy comedy. Some retrospective tongue-in-cheek comments about Picasso and Freud were a neat touch. It’s a decent story, big spectacle but just too over the top.
Revolutionary Road: obligatory boyfriend viewing – follows a middle-class couple who hate suburbia… living in suburbia. It’s set in the 1950s, a time where men wore braces and top hats, ‘computers’ were exciting, and couples went to social dances with awesome swing music. DiCaprio and Winslet nail the acting, although you really don’t know whether Kate is supposed to be insane or her acting’s lapsing – there’s a few Titanic references: planned ocean voyage and steamy car sex. It’s an OK film but feels like it could be following any ol’ couple in suburbia and although it’s well-made there’s nothing really special on offer, with Mendes’ main technique being the slow zoom, which is totally overused. If you like harrowing melodramas the book would probably be a better bet as nothing about this film really grabs you.