Sunday, June 8, 2008

Michael Clayton (Gilroy)

There is something to be said for modesty. Michael Clayton does not shoot for the moon, but it also does not overreach. It did not blow my mind, but on its own terms, I found it immensely satisfying.

George Clooney, talented actor though he is, must have a tricky time choosing his roles. After all, there are only so many kinds of characters such a classically gorgeous human being can convincingly play. Philip Seymour Hoffman he is not. Then again, I suppose if he had the inclination, he could "uglify" himself a la Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron, but why bother? Come to think of it, he did gain some weight for Syriana but did he really look that much worse? No matter. He can play a guy in a suit and he can play it well. There is also something uniquely sympathetic about the cog in the corporate machine who suddenly finds himself thrust into a moral dilemma. My life may ultimately bear very little resemblance to Michael Clayton's, but damn it, I just liked the guy.

Tom Wilkinson is a hoot as a man who is both totally off his rocker and yet utterly sane. Tilda Swinton is memorably icy as the ethically dubious lawyer with perspiration problems. And the late Sydney Pollack ends his acting career in style as the seen-it-all, done-it-all head of the firm. Tony Gilroy, the film's director, wrote the screenplays for the Bourne films, and although I have only seen the first Bourne film, I have to say that as enjoyable as that franchise may be, Mr. Gilroy should direct a few more movies and write a few less Bourne screenplays. Because he can direct a terrific movie.

Also, never underestimate the value of a good last shot.

"Film critic" rating: ****
"Little Earl" rating: ***1/2

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