It wasn’t my plan to see Contagion when it screened in Manila because it looked like a highbrow-fest what with all the Academy Award winners and losers in it. I watch the occasional Oscary films but I don’t feel like watching those since I’m kind of not wanting to engage in too much brain activity lately. But a friend badmouthed the film and went to great lengths trying to strip the movie of any worth. Great lengths being an FB group message warning of its garbageness. Then he sort of launched an anti-Contagion campaign as if the movie isn’t such a huge flop enough and posted a flat out ‘Contagion sucks’ post of sort which though I wasn’t designated protector of the Steven Soderbergh filmography I thought was a bit much.
What’s striking was not that someone would express dismay over a seemingly difficult movie; it’s that the person expressing it is someone who I know is a fan of highly intellectual things, who would argue with anyone about politics, religion, sex, art, film, underwear, literature, etc. So the friend, who I’m mostly okay with – ok as in outside of our circle we don’t care enough about each other to ask about how each other’s families are doing, etc, so you know this is certainly not personal – raped Contagion in front of a relatively sizeable Facebook crowd (and where else can a larger crowd be had? Where else can a captive audience be easier to snatch) and that is all the reason I needed to want to see the film for myself. I saw it not because I felt strongly for Steven Soderbergh’s works but because sometimes truly awful word-of-mouth is irresistible.
I know that no one takes my takes on social networking behaviour seriously and the only person who thinks I’m such an expert on psychology is myself but the criticism ambience is becoming alarming. There are people who don’t care for critics, people who even think critics are funny (whatever that means), and then there are the critic-dependents who wouldn’t watch a film unless it’s rated with a 65%+ freshness in Rottentomatoes.com.
Contagion is the perfect film with which to observe people’s behaviors towards criticism, says the expert. People who could think for themselves naturally do not subscribe to critics’ opinions to form their own but there always will be the ‘thinkers’, the supposed intelligent ones who would purposely shun sorta brainy stuff just to show how certain widely perceived culturati things are beneath them.What it could be is a ploy to monopolize and keep all discussions of intellectual merit to those which these same people (ie aforementioned friend) find worthy. Or maybe Steven Soderbergh molested friend’s (and similar people’s) puppies in their youth and/or their drug addict sensibilities were seriously scarred by the Soderbergh film, Traffic. Just wild-guessing!
To illustrate, suppose you’re a smartypant and a film like Inception is showing and people are actively campaigning for its greatness and enjoyability. You will shut it out of your life and maybe throw in a nasty comment or two about its great potential to bore, and then express your own preference for lowbrow flicks like Hot Chicks, and feel good about yourself. That sucks! If you think you’ve got such a hot pair of brains, you will not let your bias affect your right to enjoy a truly remarkably made Christopher Nolan film, or in this case, a good Soderbergh film. But for the record I didn’t care for Inception too because it was so boring. What makes me special is that I hated Inception because it was so boring and I have extremely high tolerance for boring. And unlike Inception, Contagion is really not pa-intellectual. That’s just his style! It scatters details and characters in a way that can be alienating but everything is so urgent and focused, you don’t forget for a moment that you’re watching a film about an illness. And it’s called ‘Contagion’.
To make a point I could have gone on living without saying, I could say that contrary to his opinion, Contagion is quite good. But point or no point, the movie is not worthy of a peer pressure-motivated censorship. I also like very much the music and the dryness of it, and the terrificality of the acting. I liked Gwyneth, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle and Marion Cotillard, and I like the dry, sandpapery look of it. See, it has a market! In the old days, as in around 3 months ago, I would have attempted to do a review thingy of it, probably, but considering how inept I actually am at doing that, I reduce my thoughts on films and things in the most uncriticy way because already, my eyes have been opened and I now realize how ignorant I appear every time I try to opine on something I don’t fully understand and appreciate.
But, whatever! Someone spreading contagious remarks about Contagion is delicious. Har! Maybe the friend is just aiming for a punch line. He is probably waiting for someone to challenge his probable perception of the film’s ending as a kind of a ridiculous surprise. Maybe he hates Steven Soderbergh. He’s free to hate. The trouble with this particular hate is that if people take heed and ignore Contagion, they will never experience its alleged awfulness by themselves. The admonition to not consume something is detrimental to everyone’s right to criticize. Criticism is fine. It’s fun. It’s just not for everyone.