Kate Winslet in Contagion
Kate Winslet in Contagion NZ Herald

Movie review: Contagion

IF you're still suffering from paranoia over the bird flu scare, Contagion might not be the best bet for your weekend viewing.

The disaster flick - starring Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne - involves a virus that spreads like wildfire around the globe and is one of the biggest films opening in New Zealand this weekend.

Get your underground bunker ready - apparently everything in the Steven Soderbergh-directed film could happen in real life.

"Nothing in the screenplay is not possible," scriptwriter Scott Z Burns has said.

"It's not the pigs or the bats that are the problem - it's the way we industrialise food."

Contagion has had great reviews, with Salon.com calling it "a chilly, fascinating thriller at odds with itself".

Elsewhere, it's slim pickings for weekend movie choices.

You could take a punt on the Ewan McGregor comedy-drama Beginners, a cat-amongst-the-pigeons story about a man's elderly father who announces the double-whammy: He has cancer, and he's also decided he's gay.

Beginners has a 81 percent approval rating on Metacritic, so it might just be worth a shot.

"You know you're in the hands of a superbly gifted filmmaker when he can pull off a talking dog," said The Washington Post.

A talking dog? Woof.

If you're looking for something with a bit more action, 13 Assassins is a remake of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 film involving a bunch of unemployed assassins-turned-hitmen working at the end of Japan's feudal era.

It won't be for everyone but 13 Assassins has had strong reviews, with the Philadelphia Inquirer calling it "thrilling and funny, visually exquisite and emotionally charged".

If you're looking for something with a bit more depth, Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson could be right up your alley.

It follows notorious activist Captain Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew as they hunt down a Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica's Southern Ocean.

There's bound to be some raised voices, then.

Other films being released this week include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Fighting Fear, Last Train Home and Corageous.

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