Please excuse the discombobulated nature of this
review. Though I won’t go so far as to label it half-ass, my heart and focus is
down in Southern California, and my usual delight in the trivial has lost its
luster for the time being…
I used to watch ER,
but more for Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) than Dr. Doug (George Clooney).
My first real introduction to Clooney
was on The Facts of Life, when he sported that lovely mullet. I was instantly
drawn to his charisma, though I honestly never pictured him as the
old-fashioned movie star that he has become.
I am amused by the journalists who are obsessed with Clooney’s box office bankability. The man has risen far above his reign
as People’s Sexiest Man of the Year. Yes,
he’s pretty. And yes, those Ocean’s
movies are entertaining man candy, but I don’t think that Clooney receives the
respect he has earned. The man won a Best Supporting Oscar (Syriana), for crying out loud. Out of Sight and Three Kings were damn good too. And his work behind the camera is also quite
impressive; Confessions of a Dangerous
Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck
are very good films.
Look, I’m not saying that all Clooney films have been
golden. I did sit through Solaris and The Peacemaker. As much as he was critically panned for those
and his stint as Batman, I admit to
being drawn to a film when his name is attached. And frankly, I don’t care who Clooney dates or
where he lives. While most admire him for his looks, I am far more interested
in his body…of work.
With that, I am happy to report that Michael Clayton is actually a great
film. This corporate/legal drama features fantastic performances by an all-star
cast and more than enough unexpected plot twists to keep your attention for two
hours. Screenwriter Tony Gilroy makes an impressive directorial debut. He is
quite familiar with and successful at creating a palatable onscreen intensity; he
penned the suspenseful Dolores Claiborne
and all 3 Bourne films.
Tilda Swinton should have been nominated for Best
Actress back in 1992 for Orlando. She
certainly deserves a Best Supporting Actress nod this year for her role in Michael Clayton.
Although British actor Tom Wilkinson entered the
American filmgoer consciousness in The
Full Monty, he had been acting for twenty years prior (I first enjoyed him
as Mr. Dashwood in 1995’s Sense and
Sensibility). Of course he went on
to earn a Best Actor nomination for In
the Bedroom, but I highly recommend that you rent Normal, which I consider to be his best work yet. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see him up for
Best Supporting Actor for his memorable role in Michael Clayton.
This movie reminded me that Sydney Pollack should spend more time
in front of the camera. As much as I love the films that he has directed (Absence of Malice, Tootsie), I really like him as an actor as well.
Denis O’Hare has perfected the character actor genre.
While he is quite capable of being a lead and some may scoff at such an assessment,
I intend it as a compliment. And he has added another small yet pivotal role to
his collection in Michael Clayton. Of
course my favorite O’Hare appearance was as Albert the Ark Man in Garden State. I am also enjoying his
clash with Calista Flockhart on Brothers
and Sisters. O’Hare is actually a Tony-award winning Broadway man (Take Me Out).
Clayton is what I would call an intelligent thriller. Though
some may prefer to watch this kind of film at home, I believe it is worth a
trip to the theater.