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Wednesday, October 17, 2007


ModFab On...Michael Clayton

Director: Tony Gilroy
Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy
Performers: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Sydney Pollack
Visit: Official Site, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Soundtrack

The two smartest film critics I know have both cheered Tony Gilroy's directorial debut, Michael Clayton. I share their enthusiasm to a degree; watching it, you realize how rare movies requiring an audience's intellect have become these days. After the smart blockbustering of the Bourne movies (which he wrote), Gilroy is interested in making movies for those who can keep up with him -- Clayton's complexity, maturity, and episodic storytelling is like a four-star meal after years of fast food. Gilroy's production team are also executes their work with precision and elegance -- Robert Elswit's slate-gray cinematography, James Newton Howard's moody score, and Sarah Edwards' rumpled costuming are all nothing short of phenomenal.

But like many great works of art, it's easier to admire it than to love it. Michael Clayton's chilly atmosphere is nearly humorless and rarely varied, which mutes the emotional landscape. As the twists reveal themselves onscreen, one gets the sense that the film is a superb stereo production that often plays in mono, shrinking impact in favor of maintaining the mood. In some scenes, Clayton is the kick in the pants the whodunit genre desperately needs; in others, however, its gorgeous sheen simply lies flat and impenetrable.

Overall, however, Michael Clayton works, and works well. Leading man George Clooney (Ocean's 11) acquits himself nicely, but the the film's trio of secret-weapon supporting players is where the real magic lies. As Clayton's amoral boss, Sydney Pollack dances delicately between the borders of truth and justice. Tom Wilkinson (In The Bedroom), reminding everyone that he is one of the great underrated talents of our age, is a jittery, jangling whistle-blower who may (or may not) be losing his grip on sanity. Best of all, however, is Tilda Swinton (The Deep End), whose near-silent endurances of guilt and shame are shocking in their intimate intensity. Remember her name come Oscar time.

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Blogger qta said...

I totally agree with you... especially on Tilda Swinton!

10/17/07, 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't agree...tell you why

10/18/07, 2:20 AM  
Blogger StinkyLulu said...

Yup, that Tilda.
Her performance calibrates the whole film in really astonishing ways...

10/19/07, 12:13 AM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Thanks for the link, babe. Looks like it's a three-way agree on this one? Had we given up hope that it was possible?

10/19/07, 11:12 AM  
Anonymous avi said...

but donald trump says in his new "book" and on larry king that george clooney is short and untalented. so clearly any art he's involved in is bad and overrated, as implied by trump. larry countered that george is 5'10" and trump said he never met him so he didn't know. cnn - fine television.

10/20/07, 9:50 PM  

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