Thursday, October 25, 2007

The White Witch in a suit from Talbot's

Here at the Tilda Swinton Fan Club, we would be happy to see her in a Burger King commercial. But when she co-stars in a solid thriller like Michael Clayton -- well, let's just say we're orgasmic. No, scratch that. Delighted, that's the word. Well, quite pleased.

Swinton's turn as the amoral, paranoid corporate lawyer -- who defeats her Arrid Extra Dry in the first 10 minutes of the film -- is sheer genius. She's definitely on the short list for best supporting actress; you read it here first. Swinton has this way of making her eyes opaque, like a shark, while the rest of her exudes acute desperation -- the kind you get when you're in over your head and need to make sure no living person ever finds out the things you'll do to stay afloat.

George Clooney, in the title role, isn't bad either. He plays a "fixer," a corporate lawyer who no longer practices law, but cleans up the sort of messes that can crop up for any major U.S. agrochemical corporation. At some point, he begins to question if this latest mess isn't beyond redemption.

It's impossible to say much more about the plot without giving it away. While the movie's choice of corporate America as the root of all evil might be a bit too predictable and preachy, the writing is superb and the direction is subtle. No gunfights here, or car chases; only one car explosion. I liked it anyway. The story is nuanced enough to warrant a second viewing, but it's not the sort of piece that leaves you scratching your head when you're leaving the cineplex. I'd say it may the best film I've seen this year. (Which is not saying a great deal, since the last film I saw at a theater may well have been Ratatouille.)

Still, fours stars out of five. Three thumbs up. Two winks and a kiss. Dave Bob says check it out.

6 comments:

pundy said...

Well, I'll certainly go and see it after that review.

Peter said...

I think I might even overlook the smugness of George Clooney's public persona and check this one out.
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Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Dave K. said...

I'm with you on Clooney's smugness. Not somebody you'd want to have dinner with. But he's not a bad actor at all.

Peter said...

I've been down on Clooney since he got all put upon and declared some kind of boycott of intrusive media (the details escape me). Well and good; I wouldn't like to be hounded day and night either. But Clooney seemed to think he was earning tens of millions of dollars per movie based on his looks and moderate light-comic talents. He seemed conveniently to forget the paparazzi's integral part in the publicity-money machine that made him his big bucks. He wanted the benefits of ultra-super-mega stardom without paying the price.
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Tess Knadler said...

Gotta disagree with you guys on George Clooney. He's about the only ultra-good looking guy in Hollywood who doesn't seem to have an overly smug personna. (Watch "O Brother Where Art Thou" again and report back on whether you think the guy takes himself too seriously.) I don't fault anybody for wanting to have a career while leading a perfectly private private life. And hey, if the guy invites me for a cup of coffee, I am so there.

Peter said...

You're probably a more serious Clooneyologist than I am, so perhaps I should defer to your expertise. I should make clear, though, that my comments apply to his public persona, not to the roles he plays. (I couldn't stand O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, but for reasons unrelated to Clooney's self-righteousness. I loved the music, but the movie may be the most overrated I have ever seen. Among its grating aspects is that tag line that Clooney's character keeps repeating, something like: "Yep, we're really in a spot!" The forced jauntiness was painful to listen to, and the Coen brothers made sure I had to listen to it many times.)

I sympathize with George Clooney's desire to be a megastar while enjoying a perfectly private life. I would also sympathize with, say, a baseball superstar who wearied of a schedule that runs from March to November, who hated having to play postseason games on the West Coast late in the afternoon (worst possible time for hitters) so the games can have maximum television exposure in the East. I would sympathize with him for having to spend 12 or 14 hours at the ballpark so owners can make more money by clearing the stadium after the first game of a doubleheader so they can charge separate admisison for the second game. In fact, I would sympathize so strongly that if I were lord of the universe, I'd offer to remove all those burdens if the player were willing simply to forgo the income he derived directly and indirectly from them.

In any case, though, it wasn't Clooney's disgust with the media that turned me off, it was the snotty, do-gooder way he expressed it. The details escaped me, but I think he wanted to organize a Hollywood stars' boycott of publications. Sorry, but a put-upon multimillionaire's demands that he be allowed to tailor his own overexposure is not the sort of politcal cause that fires me with righteous anger.

I also remember reading a thoughtful essay about his K Street television series that made a persuasive case for the proposition that the series' very conception seriously overrated Hollywood's influence in politics.

Look, I liked the remake of Ocean's Eleven, and I liked Three Kings. I liked Clooney's work in both. But the man does take himself way too seriously.

===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/