Fox on film: latest cinema releases reviewed (20.10.11)

Contagion

Masterful filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, a chameleon cineaste changes direction once again with his latest film, a skin-crawlingly effective virus disaster film featuring one of his renowned, stellar ensemble casts.

The story with starts with married couple Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow.

She returns from a trip feeling unwell and soon, she’d dead, and in a few days so is her son.

Damon survives and so begins the quest to discover first what the virus is and, more importantly, how to stop it.

The film works best in the first half as we meet the characters and realise how quickly disease can spread, both locally and globally and the effect is terror.

It struggles to sustain all the way through as the action and science become repetitive, but there’s still much to love, not least in the performances and the way it gets under the skin and makes you think twice about the spread of germs and infection.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Welcome back Lynne Ramsay. The mercurial British filmmaker behind the gems Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar has been gone too long and her latest is an absolutely explosive comeback, both cinematically and narratively.

It’s based on Lionel Shriver’s controversial book dealing with the troubled relationship between a mother and her son.

She harbours feelings of hatred towards him, and he has massacred his classmates in a shooting spree.

In between them is the weak, naïve and repressed husband/father.

The film is shot through with powerful symbolism and the dynamic performances from Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller in the lead roles are uncompromising and all too believable.

John C Reilly is fantastic as ever in the husband role.

It’s a refreshingly adult, uncomfortable and searching film from a unique talent.

Don’t be gone so long next time, Lynne, not that the absence was even your fault).

Paranormal Activity 3

From the sublime to the ridiculous. How ridiculous?

Well, there’s an actor in the cast who is called Sprague Grayden. Now, I’m sorry, I know people can’t help what they’re called but it’s a perfect representation of the sheer ridiculousness which is at play here.

The third film of a franchise spawned by decent, but by no means amazing, original film is so far from the remnants of what made the original idea bearable that it’s untrue. Yawn.