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‘Contagion’ disturbing, but oddly entertaining

Fri., Jan. 6, 2012

Anna Jacoby-Heron, left, and Matt Damon are shown in a scene from “Contagion.”
Anna Jacoby-Heron, left, and Matt Damon are shown in a scene from “Contagion.”

“Contagion” – A star-crammed global pandemic disaster pic from director Steven Soderbergh, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Elliott Gould, Jennifer Ehle and Kate Winslet among the folks running for their lives – and trying not to touch anybody, or anything, or even breathe in public. Scary, but weirdly fun. (1:45, PG-13 for disturbing content and some language) • • •

“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” – Despite Guillermo del Toro’s participation (co-writer, co-producer), this putatively scary remake of a revered ’70s TV movie doesn’t have much to recommend. There’s an over-emoting kid (Bailee Madison) traumatized by parental discord and furry demons, and there are Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes in superficial, stereotypical roles. (1:40, R for violence and terror) • •

“The Guard” – The great, girthful Brendan Gleeson takes the title role and saunters off into the sunset with it in this smart, funny portrait of a maverick Irish country constable, begrudgingly partnered with an FBI agent (Don Cheadle) on the hunt for a murderous band of drug smugglers. From John Michael McDonagh, older brother to “In Bruges” director Martin McDonagh; the siblings share a similarly twisted sensibility. (1:36, R) • • • 1/2

“I Don’t Know How She Does It” – Sarah Jessica Parker stars in a breezily entertaining adaptation of Allison Pearson’s novel about the working-mother juggle. With Greg Kinnear as the husband, Pierce Brosnan as the handsome business associate and Olivia Munn (hilarious) as the assistant. (1:35, PG-13 for sexual references throughout) • • •

Also released this week: “Mildred Pierce”


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