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"Michael Clayton"

Directed by Tony Gilroy.
Written by Tony Gilroy.
Starring George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack and Tom Wilkinson.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  10/19/07


Although it had some stretches of blah, "Michael Clayton" is solid adult thriller entertainment.  I haven't seen many movies like this one, flicks that cater to the 30+ audience thanks to smart writing, solid but unspectacular performances and a good-looking production.

George Clooney, that man of all seasons, is Michael Clayton, the guy at a Manhattan law firm that "gets things done", as the case may be.  When we meet him, he is just finishing up fixing a bad situation where one of the firm's clients accidentally forgot to call 911 after a hit-and-run accident in Westchester County.  On the way home, Michael's car gets blown up...and, we go to a past four days earlier, where Michael has to fly to Milwaukee to deal with the fact that one of the firm's partners (Tom Wilkinson) went apeshit during a deposition and accidentally took off all of his clothes.  It is this situation that leads to an interesting turn of events for Michael and some of his associates.

It's not really a mystery film, it's not really a cop/investigation flick, it's not really a courtroom drama, but for some reason, "Michael Clayton" clicks along thanks to the feeling that something very important is going to happen.  Not to say whether something does or doesn't happen; the film just does a solid job of keeping you hooked to the next set of events.  Everyone looks very serious.  Everyone is a hardened professional.  Every phone call seems to matter.  Occasionally, people raise their voice just a tad and launch into a profanity-laden response about why something is terribly important.  Even now, I'm not sure why I was caught up in it.

But, I was!  Clooney, Wilkinson, and party collaborators Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack all do good, but never great, work here.  The look of "Michael Clayton" is good, but I don't think it will be the kind of movie that ends up almost winning an Oscar for cinematography or art direction.  The soundtrack just gets by, but it never impedes the action.  Even the bad guys--for lack of a better term, since there aren't any truly bad guys in this film--seem to be professionals and get the job done nicely, even if it's in a muted way.

I liked "Michael Clayton" for its overall above-average-osity, but I was hoping for a little bit more of a payoff.  Even as it didn't happen, I was still very satisfied with the viewing experience.  Next!

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09