The Ides of March (d. George Clooney)
Politics moves so quickly now that movies can’t keep up with it. Production time mangles relevance. George Clooney's The Ides of March sits you in a John Edwards-like scandal with an Obama-like candidate. Riffing on political events of just a few years ago, The Ides of March nonetheless feels like a movie from a dusty past. Situated in an era of mass-protest spectacle, we get an insider’s story, of a semi-idealistic press secretary (Ryan Gosling) who finds out – get this – that politics is dirty business that’s not always what it seems. Directed and starring George Clooney, The Ides of March isn’t really a bad film, just very generic.
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Contagion (d. Steven Soderbergh)
A film for everyone who has ever suspected Gwyneth Paltrow will be the death of us all. Stephen Soderbergh takes the clinical approach to the deadly virus genre, extracting the natural grotesque hysteria and dread for a realistic government procedural, depicting a worldwide race between the viral nature of information and the viral nature of, well, viruses. Even the stars in the all-star cast meet abbreviated ends, while mid-level public health and Hollywood bureaucrat Jennifer Ehle saves the day. Then she goes straight back to work without a press conference or Oscar buzz. A 70s-style big topical film with an all-star ensemble, Contagion is that rare example of a movie that is exactly the sum of its estimable parts - nothing more and nothing less.