Contagion was hailed as Stephen Soderbergh's return to Traffic form, which is all well and good until you remember that Traffic is the worst film Soderbergh has made. Contagion is better, mostly because its panic is so rigorously quarantined in minimalist frames; it could be an NPR investigation called The Giant Pool of Swine Flu. But the movie's downfall is its faith in mass rationality; it seems to take place in a fantasy pandemic where Nancy Grace died before anybody else. As the globe coughs into oblivion, the only media heard in the background is a soporific public-radio voice. This is the way Soderbergh's world ends: Not with a bang but a pledge drive. Showing at: Academy, Bagdad, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Mission, St. Johns Pub.

  • Best paired with: Coalition Maple Porter.
  • Also showing: Ghost World (Laurelhurst).