Sunday, September 11, 2011

Odds and Ends

Has anyone seen the trailer for David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"? If you haven't, here it is.

Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy is quite the success story. Documented elsewhere, so I won't go into it here, but pretty amazing when you think about it. They were adapted for film in Sweden, and then, because there was more money to be made, American movies were planned.

So that trailer up there is for the American version. Just to be clear.

I intended this post to be about how some trailers are pretty cool by themselves, but then their music just exponentially increases their level of win. Then I discovered that did this article already. So go ahead and just read that. I was going to mention Watchmen and 9, but they also pick up on Pineapple Express, for which I never really saw a trailer. Hurray for

Went to see Contagion on Friday. I guess it's supposed to be an Oscar contender. Maybe it'll challenge for Best Director, and I suppose it could be one of the "five to ten" to get enough number one votes to put it into Best Picture. It's an awards-hungry film. You can just tell.

I didn't hate it. It all just seemed so retreaded to me. Maybe I've been spoiled by fantasy-epidemics like that in 28 Days Later. Maybe I have low, consumerist tastes. But I felt like there were too many threads in the movie--too many elements trying to teach us too many lessons--too many characters trying to elicit too many emotions--too many plot elements jostling for first place, with the effect that the plot just didn't seemed to matter.

And that last was one of the most surprising to me. In a film about a worldwide epidemic, plotting seems simple. But the characterization was so lacking that when a major character succumbed to the virus, I felt no deep pang of sorrow. I felt nothing more than a whiff of passing regret. "Well that's too bad."

So the characters didn't make me care about the plot. But by itself the narrative was insignificant. I didn't want the epidemic to ravage the country, to the extent that the film became a prequel to Zombieland. But I wasn't quite prepared for how everything and everyone seemed back to normal. The events of the film didn't seem to change anything. The characters were superficially affected (dead, bereaved, or that dread cliche Drawn Closer To Loved Ones), but not actually affected. So I was left asking, "Why should I care?"

Sure, technology conquers. Sure, humanity adapts to survive. Sure, there will always be profiteers piggybacking on disaster (whether they be renegade bloggers or pharmaceutical companies). Does catastrophe change us?

Or is history truly cyclical? Are humans innately unable to learn from their mistakes, doomed to repeat them for eternity? According to Contagion, the answer is yes.

This, then, is Contagion's chilling message. Not "Wash your hands or you might start an epidemic" or "Love the people you have before you lose them". No, Contagion shows us people who are fundamentally unaffected by catastrophe.

I don't want to be one of those.

Long live accidents.

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