Friday, October 5, 2007

Michael Clayton - Movie - Review - New York Times

THE MASSEY PRENUP HAS NEVER BEEN PENETRATED: Is there a contemporary movie star who's using his stardom for more interesting things than George Clooney? With a recent run including Syriana, Good Night, and Good Luck, the Oceans films and repeated trips to Coen Brothers country, he consistently brings the provocative and the entertaining, often in the same film, as today's NYT rave on Michael Clayton indicates:
Dark in color, mood and outraged worldview, “Michael Clayton” is a film that speaks to the way we live now. Or at least, the way certain masters of the universe do, as they prowl the jungle in their sleek rides, armed with killer instincts and the will to power. It’s a story about ethics and their absence, a slow-to-boil requiem for American decency in which George Clooney, the ultimate in luxury brands and playboy of the Western world, raises the sword in the name of truth and justice and good. Well, someone’s got to do it.

And Mr. Clooney, who smartly moved away from star-making nonsense like “The Peacemaker” as soon as he could, has in recent years proved that it’s possible to play outwardly different, seemingly contradictory roles (glamorous, righteous) while hopscotching from Hollywood to Darfur and back. You have to be clever to pull this off, and you have to have clever friends like Steven Soderbergh, with whom Mr. Clooney created the production company Section Eight. Now defunct, Section Eight dropped bombs, uncorked bubbles, supported independent voices and mucked about in television (“K Street”). With “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Good German” and now “Michael Clayton,” it also helped Mr. Clooney create a singularly contemporary screen identity as a man of unquiet conscience....

Recently, Mr. Clooney has served as a guide into a different country, one in which the media fails, capitalism kills and heroes stumble. His glamour and easy manner make these excursions feel less a matter of duty than of necessity; they provide the pleasure that softens the pain. He does some strong work here, especially when he’s nursing his character’s misery or gently squaring off against the young actor (Austin Williams), who plays his son. But he’s almost always good, and he’s a big enough star now that each new role feels as if he’s playing a version of himself. That’s O.K. We need George Clooney, just as we needed Warren Beatty — seducer of heavy hearts and troubled minds, the beautiful bearer of our very bad tidings.
Ebert, too, brings the four stars: "I don't know what vast significance 'Michael Clayton' has (it involves deadly pollution but isn't a message movie). But I know it is just about perfect as an exercise in the genre. I've seen it twice, and the second time, knowing everything that would happen, I found it just as fascinating because of how well it was all shown happening."

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