I'd intended to see the movie "Contagion" before heading to Hong Kong. What can I say - I'm a glutton for the sort of punishment that comes from being up to date on cultural discomforts. I'd heard good things. So when I finally got around to seeing it last night, I was struck by not only the obvious strong points - the powerful paranoia that breaks out, the way you almost immediately start counting how often you touch your face, the way everyone thereafter looks like a carrier of some sort. I also had to think that this was yet another recent movie dealing head on with the issue of animal research. Just like in this summer's "Planet of the Apes" where the research subjects are even more prominent (hell, they're right there in the title). Without hopefully giving away anything to those who haven't seen "Contagion", there's a pivotal scene where a monkey's very-human, still-OK response in the lab gives everyone reason for optimism. I'd argue that here again viewers are asked to actively consider animal lab testing. Am I wrong to think this is an increasing storyline? And since movie reviewers are always hard-pressed to find indications of a trend in the current crop of releases, I'd say we're seeing the leading edge of a trend when it comes to portraying animals in the lab. I don't know what this trend could be called - "monkey loving" is my suggestion. I'm not arguing that this perceived trend is necessarily anti-research. Although "monkey research = bad" is certainly the point of "Planet of the Apes". I'm just sayin' that the shorthand for animal testing as a narrative technique feels more out in front and centered. Put that in your banana peel pipe and do what you will with it.