Sunday, January 16, 2011
Movie of the Week
MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007)
Starring- George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sidney Pollack
This film, not No Country for Old Men, was the Conor Award winning Best Picture of 2007. Michael Clayton is a richly engrossing melodrama that takes you on a journey of morality and conscience. It features sterling performances from Clooney, Wilkinson and Oscar winner Swinton as well as a fast paced and suspenseful story from writer/director Tony Gilroy. This film is a thinking man's Jason Bourne adventure, with all the same twists and turns, but with hard hitting dialogue in place of hard hitting action.
Michael Clayton (Clooney) is a 'fixer' for a large New York law firm who gets sent to sort out the aftermath of a psychotic breakdown by his colleague, Arthur Edens (Wilkinson) during a large class-action law suit. What follows is Michael's struggle to uncover the truth behind Arthur's claims that U North, a large agricultural conglomerate, has been hiding deadly secrets. Michael is skeptical because of Arthur's fragile mental state, but is forced to become involved by his firm. Standing in Michael's way is the uptight general counsel for U North, Karen Crowder (Swinton), who tries to keep the information from leaking out at any cost.
The way in which the story is told keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, as you try to figure out if Arthur is speaking the truth about U North, or perhaps just acting crazy. It is also compelling to watch and see what lengths each side will go to in order to achieve their objectives. There is also an engrossing sub-plot involving Michael and his family that adds another level to the complex nature of the film. In some films this type of story line feels tacked on, or unnecessary, but here it serves as a way to enrich the main character and make him more of a flawed hero, so that we aren't sure whether he will do the right thing when the time comes. Michael Clayton is first and foremost a melodrama, but it is also a commentary about big business, family and the ethics of both. More than that, it is just a good story that grabs you from the start and keeps your interest until the final credits roll.
Things to watch for-
Michael O'Keefe (Danny Noonan) as Barry
Horses save lives
Late night gambling
Realm and Conquest
"Do I look like I'm negotiating?"