September 19, 2011 12:00 PM

Contagion

Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow | PG-13 |

REVIEWED BY TOM GLIATTO

DRAMA

Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven) misfires with this somber film about a pandemic. You get his usual narrative confidence-he tracks the global spread of a killer virus with fastidious briskness-but the cavalcade of A-list stars disrupts the documentary tone. Paltrow, an early victim, gives what can only be called a disproportionately great performance in a small part. Her porcelain skin splotches, she’s shaken by seizures-and she bravely submits to one of the most repulsive scenes ever endured by a major actress. We just need someone to look sick and collapse. Winslet, a doctor for the Centers for Disease Control, has the right urgency, and Damon, a grieving husband, stumbles through with a bearlike clumsiness that feels real. But Marion Cotillard, as a World Health Organization expert, gets abruptly yanked out of sight by a melodramatic subplot, then thrust back in, perfuming the infected air with her dark-haired chic.

Warrior

Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte | PG-13 |

REVIEWED BY LESLEY MESSER

DRAMA

Mixed martial arts? Not my thing. I’m not interested in watching men try to knock each other unconscious. So, I was fully prepared to hate Warrior-but I didn’t. Far from it. The emotionally charged tale of two estranged brothers pitted against each other in the ring is as much about family bonds as it is about the sport. While Tommy (Hardy), a Marine, has his own reason for entering a tournament, Brendan (Edgerton) is fighting to provide for his family. Hardy and Edgerton’s performances are so powerful that it’s tough to root for one over the other, and Nolte is heartbreaking as their recovering alcoholic father. The fight scenes are intense but not gratuitously violent-sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

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