Michael Clayton (2007)
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George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack, Michael O'Keefe, Ken Howard, Denis O'Hare, Robert Prescott, Merritt Wever, David Lansbury, Bill Raymond, David Zayas, Skipp Sudduth, Angelo Bonsignore, Brian Coleman, Peggy Friend, Pamela Gray, Amy Hargreaves, Neal Huff, Brian Koppelman, Doug McGrath, Chris McMullin, Stewart Summers, Julie White, Schuster Vance, Steven Weisz, Kevin Cannon, Jack Fitz, Emelie Jeffries, Sarah Nichols, Richard Hecht, Brad Lee Wind, Maggie Siff, Austin Williams, Clem Cheung, Katherine Waterston, Village, Rachel Black, Pun Bandhu, Remy Auberjonois, Christopher Mann, Terry Serpico, Sean Cullen, Alberto Vazquez, Susan McBrien, Lisamarie Costabile, Heidi Armbruster, Hiram Chan, Gregory Dann, Matthew Detmer, Susan Egbert, Sam Gilroy, Timothy Joliat, Paul Oquist, Jason Strong, Kimmy Suzuki, Cathy Diane Tomlin, Lisamarie Costabile
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|Movie Review by Jesse |
December 30th, 2007
Excellence in the Legal Drama Genre.
I do realize that this film is now nominated for Golden Globes and such, but I still feel that Michael Clayton is underrated by the average moviegoer. I don't think people are giving this film a chance and dismissing it as a bore-fest because the plot doesn't deal with explosions or robots. I watched this film last week (it was one of my most anticipated films of 2007). I don't know what took me so long to see it, but when I finally did I was very pleased. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy (previously a writer for films like Dolores Claiborne, The Devil's Advocate and the Bourne series) in an impressive directorial debut, this film excels in its genre and hosts three of the best performances of the year.
When looking for flaws in this film, I could find only a few and I've decided not to point them out in this film because there are already many negative reviews floating around. I'm here to praise this film and I will start by acknowledging the original screenplay. Written by Gilroy, the screenplay is very complicated if you don't understand the legal jargon, but if you do, you'll be pleased with a more than satisfying story. When looking at films of the same genre (Legal dramas), Wall Street and The Contender come to mind, this film excels in exactly the same ways they do. It's nothing different and nothing that we haven't seen before, but something about it is intriguing and made me feel obliged to listen to every word spoken by these important people.
Just like Wall Street and The Contender, this film has strong performances. Clooney joins the likes of Michael Douglas and Joan Allen as a strong leading character in a legal drama. His performance reminds me of someone, too. Oh, wait... it reminds me of George Clooney! He seems to play himself in this film, but this isn't a bad thing. Look at Jack Nicholson, he plays himself in practically every movie he's been in since 1980 but has been phenomenal nonetheless. Clooney's attitude and character work well with this film and his performance is nothing less than extraordinary. He's proven that he can do it all with Good Night, and Good Luck. and now he's out to get some votes again with Michael Clayton.
The two supporting characters in this film also give brilliant performances. Tom Wilkinson plays Arthur Eden, one of the law firm's (the one Clayton works for) top parters. During a deposition hearing in Milwaukee, Eden suddenly goes crazy and strips naked and runs through the parking lot. Wilkinson plays a good nut (as we've already seen in Batman Begins after he's gassed by the Scarecrow) and his performance is one of the best I've seen this year. Wilkinson also gives one of the best voiceovers I have ever heard in any film during the opening sequence of Michael Clayton. Very impressive stuff from Tom Wilkinson.
Also a standout in this film is one of my personal favourite actresses of today Tilda Swinton. As Karen Crowder, the chief legal executive for U-North (one of Clayton's law firm's biggest clients who is being sued for poison pollution... something like we've seen in Erin Brockovich), Swinton gives a performance that I can only describe as electrical. She plays a character that seems so paranoid, yet has so much power and authority that everytime she's onscreen I get goosebumps.
Sydney Pollack also appears in this film as the head of Clayton's law firm, a role which he is so familiar with. He's been playing these authority figures, law firm heads, big-time bosses in most of the films he's been in (Tootsie, Eyes Wide Shut) that he has the performance down pat. With these four big name, big talent actors in one little film like Michael Clayton, you're sure to have a excellent performances. If it wasn't for these four, this film wouldn't have been as good as it was. The actors made the film and commanded every scene they were in. This movie, if anything, was to showcase these actors in top form.
As I said before, this was one of my most anticipated films of 2007 for four reasons:
1. George Clooney
2. Tilda Swinton
3. Tom Wilkinson
4. Robert Elswit
Who is Robert Elswit? Elswit is one of my personal favourite cinematographers. In the past he has worked on all of P.T. Anderson's films (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love), Good Night, and Good Luck., Syriana and the upcoming There Will Be Blood (also P.T. Anderson). His work is amazing and I wasn't let down with Michael Clayton.
Overall, this film is one of the best of 2007. A strong legal drama in the same league as Wall Street that has three of the best performances of the year. A strong directorial debut from Tony Gilroy, a great screenplay (also from Gilroy) and beautiful cinematography from Elswit complete this film. I highly recommend this (although not everyone will love it), and I hope to see this nominated for some Oscars come January.
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