Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Michael Clayton"

I thought I'd give you one more inspiring film to catch before the Oscars Sunday night: best picture nominee "Michael Clayton."

There are always those films that miss my radar when they first come out. The trailer made "Michael Clayton" out to be just another downbeat legal thriller. Luckily, a fellow movie lover recommended it as the best movie of the year so I saw it Monday and again yesterday. I enjoyed this well written adult drama even better the second time around. I apologize for not reviewing this extraordinary film sooner. But you can still catch it at the second run theaters.

George Clooney gives an Oscar caliber performance as the world weary "fixer" in a law firm that is defending their biggest client U/North against a multi-million dollar settlement of a class action suit regarding their toxic weed killer. Michael's personal ethics are tested when his friend, the brilliant but guilt-ridden lead attorney
Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) snaps, and Michael is called to clean up his mess.

We've seen this obvious (and tired) theme of corporate corruption before. But this movie has more to say. It brings up the question of who is really crazy: the bi-polar attorney who believes he has been called on a quest of redemption to stop the evil corporation or the U/North corporation who is willing to literally kill people in order put the firm and it's stockholders in the "most financially advantageous position." As a society, have we become so jaded that we see someone who doesn't have a financial motivation to help others as crazy? Don't miss this inspiring story of moral responsibility and redemption.

Tom Wilkinson, who also gave an Oscar nominated performance in "In the Bedroom" gives a strong, Oscar worthy performance here. Though
Javier Bardem is considered the favorite to win best supporting actor for his work in “No Country for Old Men, in my opinion Tom Wilkinson gives a much more dynamic performance. Tilda Swinton, who plays the cold, controlled U/North litigator, is also nominated for best supporting actress. But I prefer Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" or Rudy Dee in "American Gangster" (for her life's work) or young Saoirse Rona in "Atonement."

So of course, Tilda Swinton won the only statue for Michael Clayton. And thank Heavens she did. She gave an entertaining speech, teasing fellow nominee George Clooney and appropriately giving credit to writer/director Tony Gilroy.

So this gives you one more "Reel Inspiration film" to root for during the Oscars Sunday. For a complete list of nominees, scroll down to 2007 Academy Award Nominees.

Movie Blessings!
Jana Segal

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