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filmscanners: Flat (uncontrasty) T400cn and Vuescan, Silverfast

I shot some pictures this weekend using t400CN color b&w film and it was
very overcast (I live in Portland, OR)!
I am trying to scan them with my Polaroid SS 4000, using Vuescan,
Silverfast, and Insight.

a) Because it was a overcast days, the light was great for details, but it
was also flat, which is good but combine that with T400cn b&w film's orange
mask and you have a very flat scan. How can I improve this using Silverfast
or Vuescan? The negatives come out really grayish with not much strong
blacks. When I increase contrast the white's disappear. I tried curves etc.
I can fix this per image but it is very time consuming. I want to get a
profile that I can use with some minor adjustments.

b) Is it worth it to upgrade to Silverfast 5.5? Is there a special deal for
Polaroid users? I just installed the one that came with the scanner. I
shoot mostly negatives. I already have Vuescan (Thanks Ed! Great software).
I find that sometimes one software gives me better results thatn the
others. I am trying to get consistently good results for automated
processing later. 

c) Is it possible to scan an entire strip with Vuescan automatically?


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