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Michael Clayton
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Apparently nobody's rushing out to see this movie, and some people are trying to figure out why.

I saw it last weekend and enjoyed it, but it definitely had its problems.

Things I liked about the film:

1) Strong acting: From all the supporters (Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, and Tilda Swinton) to Clooney the centerpiece, it was a very well acted movie (probably more than the material deserved).

2) Character development: The movie worked mostly as a character sketch (the title kind of gives that away), and not the silly plot (more on that in a sec). More than anything, it's a movie about a guy walking through life in a daze, focusing all his intellect and talent on other people's problems while he can't see his own in front of his face. The movie is about how he begins to wake up, change, and figure out who he really is. That part works, and it's the best aspect of the movie.

3) Style: It does have style, and it's very subtle in its execution. The movie leaves you to fill in a lot of gaps, which requires more thinking, which is good and bad, since there are lots of dumb holes in the movie.

Things that sucked:

1) The silly plot: How many times must we see a powerful chemical corporation fighting a lawsuit against some poor, pristine common folk who have cancer because the big, bad corporation dumped chemicals in their drinking water? From The Rainmaker to Erin Brockovitch to just about every other legal's past cliched. Maybe the writers thought it was so cliched it wasn't cliched anymore. Also, with a slick little edit, the use of a bomb on Clayton's car would have made a lot more sense (this isn't really a spoiler, it happens early in the film). As it stands it seems really stupid. Also, Swinton's character hires out killers to cover things up, even though she's not exactly in a top tier position in the company (she's their lead attorney). Does her job pay that well? What can she be making? $200K a year? Would you kill for that? If the hits were ordered by the CEOs, people who stood to make millions or billions, then I might buy it. Then again, maybe they were...there were a lot of "missing scenes" in this movie.

2) Clooney's preening: He can't help it. He's a strong actor, but he's also a peacock. And worst of all were the closing credits, an extended closeup on Clooney's face, through the whole end credit sequence. I left the theatre, but most people didn't. There was no more movie, but the screen didn't fade to fixated on Clooney's mug for another 4-5 minutes. Lame.

Critics have almost universally praised it, probably because it is the type of movie that doesn't spoon-feed you. You do have to pay attention and fit lots of disparate pieces together (kind of unnecessarily, but again, if you have half a brain and you've been reviewing movies with Dane Cook and The Rock for the past couple of months, you're probably yearning for a film like this).

Still, I'd recommend it. Overall it's pretty good, and there really aren't that many good films out right now.

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