Watching George Clooney on screen after seeing our Bollywood bozos like Ajith, Vijay, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra et al prance around like hippopotamuses in heat in movie after movie is like the sight of water to a lost traveler in the vastness of the merciless Sahara.
“Do I look like I am negotiating,” Clooney yells at Tilda Swinton, who as the General Counsel of a large corporation has unsuccessfully tried to have him killed. The confrontation between these two strong characters towards the end is one of the highlights of Michael Clayton.
We missed Michael Clayton at the theaters and finally got around to watching it on our cable “On Demand” service ($4.99) last night, just in time for the Oscars this evening. While we would have liked to watch Michael Clayton in high definition, the HD version was not available and we settled for the standard definition version.
Directed masterfully by Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton excels at many levels – story, acting, tight script and intense attention to detail.
Besides the gripping and complex story, there’s flawless acting by the talented ensemble of George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack. These are thoroughbreds so unlike most of our effete Bollywood stars.
By the way, Tilda Swinton won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar Sunday, February 24, 2008 for Michael Clayton.
While we have seen George Clooney in several movies, this was our first look at Tilda Swinton. And we were impressed.
To start with, Michael Clayton is the gripping story about the movie’s eponymous fixer Michael Clayton (George Clooney) in a New York City law firm, who handles unusual (some of it unethical) tasks for wealthy clients of his firm.
The movie starts with Clooney leaving a gambling den and getting into his gleaming black Mercedes to meet a rich client of his firm involved in a hit-and-run incident.
On the drive back, Clooney stops by the roadside and walk up a small hill to admire some horses. As he stands on the hill near the horses, his car explodes into a fiery ball of flames. Clooney rushes to the car and throws his wallet and some personal possessions into the car.
The movie then goes into flashback, four days earlier when Clooney is asked by his firm to fix things after his law firm colleague and friend Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) drops his clothes and runs naked into a parking lot in the midst of a deposition involving a $3 billion class action suit against his firm’s client, an agriculture giant U North.
While the main story centers around Michael’s work to salvage the ugly situation created by his friend Arthur, the movie also makes some short side-trips (mostly related, a few unrelated) like Michael’s gambling, his relationship with his young son, Arthur’s collusion with the plaintiffs and disturbing peeks into U North general counsel Karen Crowder’s (Tilda Swanton) relentlessÂ and ruthless efforts to get things under control.
Since we believe art imitates life and vice versa, it’s sad and depressing to see that there are no limits to the ugly and predatory behavior of large corporations.
We’ve watched Clooney in several movies – Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Syriana (Clooney won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Good German and now Michael Clayton – and find him an accomplished artist.
Tis true that Clooney is not in the league of Hollywod legends like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson but then few can lay claim to such talent. To watch Brando in On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire or Godfather or Al Pacino in Scarface or Serpico or Jack Nicholson in Chinatown is to rejoice at the majesty of their performances on the screen.
Michael Clayton’s script is tightly written with nary a loose end and an object lesson to our clownish directors in Bollywood and Kollywood.
Michael Clayton left us with the depressing thought of the leap-years that Bollywood has to traverse before it can claim its place under the sun.