Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Three by Three

Three things I liked about Michael Clayton.
  • The way Tony Gilroy, the writer/director, gets the important plot information to us (who Michael Clayton is, what the agro-company his firm is defending did) in such a subtle, minimum-of-fuss way. There are no big info-dumps, and even though the viewer is dropped into the middle of a lot of stuff, it never gets confusing in that "too many white guys in suits who look alike" way legal thrillers can.
  • Wilkinson and Clooney's performance - as much scenery as Wilkinson chews, he's still very organic and believable as a man who's had a crisis of conscious that may as well be a psychotic break, and Clooney underplays very nicely, especially in the very low-keyed scenes with his kid.
  • The way Gilroy starts with the end before flashbacking, making the vast majority of the film a flashback, taking what is rapidly becoming a screenwriting structural cliche and making it work.

Three things I did not like about Michael Clayton.

  • Tilda Swinton's Oscar. She was fine, but the best supporting female performance of the year? I know I haven't seen many 2007 films, but I'd easily put, say, Jennifer Garner in Juno ahead of this. Foreign-actor bias at work.
  • That they do such a clean, impeccable, well-planned job of killing the Wilkinson character, and resort to a cheap car bomb to get Clooney.
  • The closing credits gambit, with a very long single take focused on a Clooney close up - I like Clooney a lot, but he simply doesn't have the chops yet for such a long, silent stretch.

Until Whenever

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