Straw Dogs

(R) ★☆☆☆☆

Rod Lurie’s vengeance-thriller remake still packs a visceral punch. It’s not all bad, but it is a pretty unpleasant wallow in the obvious. Lurie resets the tale of a bookish city dweller (Dustin Hoffman in the original, James Marsden here) bullied by locals, moving the setting from England to Mississippi. In the small town where his actress wife (Kate Bosworth) grew up, God, guns and goal posts are the measure of a man, and hiring some locals to fix a roof is a very bad idea.

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Contagion

Movie Review

Contagion

If you’ve ever wanted to see Gwyneth Paltrow die a horrible death, you’ll love Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion ... for the first 10 minutes, anyway. The rest of this pandemic virus disaster flick falls flat, thanks to an overstuffed cast (Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Marion Cottilard) without much to do and a plot that’s more concerned with its complex intersections than with creating a real sense of fear.

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