Traffic

Two Mexican police officers (Benicio del Toro and Jacob Vargas) become embroiled in a corrupt drug investigation. Meanwhile a judge in Ohio (Michael Douglas) is tasked with heading the Office of National Drug Control, whilst his daughter (Erike Christensen) becomes more experimental with her own drug use. Even more meanwhile a DEA investigation (led by Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman) arrest a dealer (Miguel Ferrer) and keep him in custody to testify in court against a drug lord, whose wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) suddenly finds herself having to deal with her husband’s way of living with the help of her lawyer (Dennis Quaid).
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Contagion

Chaos descends onto the world when a deadly, and highly contagious, illness descends worldwide, seemingly beginning with Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has just returned from a business trip to Hong Kong. The CDC are soon brought in to deal with the situation, but things rapidly spiral out of their control as the illness spreads across the country. We follow the outbreak from the points of view of those desperate to stop it, members of the public affected by the crisis, and the few who see it as an opportunity for personal gain.
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sex, lies and videotape

The first spoken word in this film is “garbage”. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I don’t quite get the big deal of this piece. Centring around four main characters, Andie Macdowell’s prudent homemaker Ann, her promiscuous sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), Ann’s lawyer husband John (Peter Gallagher) who is sleeping with both of them, and his old college friend Graham (James Spader), this plays out slowly and plainly, with plot points signposted miles in advance. Graham hasn’t seen John for 9 years, but has moved back into town and needs somewhere to stay temporarily, so crashes at theirs. He seems a little off, a little antisocial and distanced from the world, and when Ann goes to visit him in his new apartment, she discovers he has a ‘personal project’ that involves him videotaping women discussing their sexual experiences, and occasionally masturbating. It seems the only way the impotent Graham can become aroused is via a camera, hence this rather literal stockpiled wank bank. The film shows how powerful a camera can be, with the subjects being more willing to open up when staring into a lens than someone else’s face, and Spader’s performance is riveting and genuinely unsettling at times, but watching Macdowell trying to act is painful, and not enough unexpected occurs.

Choose life 5/10

Out of Sight

Last night I watched Out of Sight. I’d seen it before, but never really paid an awful lot of attention to it, but this time I made an effort to follow the plot. I think the film is a little over-rated, with editing style taking precedence over actual substance. In places, it seems to want to be a modernised version of classic cinema, with freezeframes, snappy dialogue and a plot that sees George Clooney’s prison escapee and Jennifer Lopez’s federal marshal thrown together and falling for one another, but it is this plot device that in my opinion lets the film down. I’ve always hated the tacking on of an arbitrary romance subplot almost ruining what would otherwise be an incredible picture (see also the Nightmare Before Christmas, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars), and this is definitely the case with Out of Sight. If the film had focussed on Clooney’s Jack Foley, his escape from prison and the heists before and after, I feel it would have been a far superior picture. By all means keep J-Lo’s character, (but for the love of cinema, recast) but drop the frankly ridiculous romance between the two. The best part of the film was the cast, with Don Cheadle eating up the screen as hoodlum Snoop, whilst Ving Rhames supports well as Buddy, Foley’s redemption-craving partner in crime. And the last minute cameo is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen.

Choose film 7/10