[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] C [/dropcap] ontagion is Steven Soderbergh’s all-star rendition of Outbreak (which had a pretty all-star cast too I might add). Let me get this our right away….I liked Outbreak much better than Contagion. Maybe Contagion was all too real and maybe Soderbergh put too much Solitary Man and Syriana in it and not enough Ocean’s Eleven and Michael Clayton. The jaundiced yellow poster with hollow eyes staring back is perhaps all too much. I was also not thrilled with the Memento-like time jumping….I guess I am just a sequential guy who likes movies to move like life moves.
Let’s talk about the cast now. One pundit said that the best thing about the movie is that Gwyneth Paltrow dies in the first 20 minutes. Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law do their normal wonderful job, but neither has a role big enough to make up for the other failings of the movie.
What I want to point out is that the subtitle, “Nothing Spreads Like Fear” is the perfect catch-phrase for our current economic cycle…..indeed it might be the perfect rallying cry for the hedge fund industry overall as we march off into the next decade. Remember folks, we are all lemmings at our core and when we get everyone wound up enough about anything, it’s just one step off the cliff to oblivion. How many fear-based market cycles have we seen over the past 4 years? I would tend to say that we are now living in a constant state of fear and that it spreads across the world almost instantaneously via the internet every day…to differing degrees every day. One day it’s the Contagion of Greek Debt. The next day it’s the Contagion of Italian debt. Then it’s the Contagion of AAA French debt which maybe shouldn’t be so AAA rated after all. Then it’s the Contagion of the housing crisis….we all have a home and its value is Zillowing downward every day with apparent great precision….yikes! Well, at least the government is there to bail us all out…..until we realize that FHA is almost out of cash and Fannie and Freddie are pooping the bed…double yikes!
What we need in the movies is less fear spreading and more love and joy spreading. Happy days and noodle pudding as Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets. Take a pill, get a shot, have a drink….and stop the Contagion. Go see the
Wizard of Oz instead.