Tag: Tilda Swinton (Page 1 of 2)

Staff Pick: “Michael Clayton” (2007)

George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton 2007

“Michael Clayton” is a slow burn, with an ending that delivers quite a punch. It’s the type of film that many love but doesn’t fit neatly into the modern economics of Hollywood. Studios rarely make dramas like this for broad theatrical release anymore.

George Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a middle-aged lawyer who works for a large law firm as its fixer. He cleans up messes for clients who get into trouble – stuff like accidents, domestic issues, etc. He’s also having his own problems as he tries to dig out of debt from a restaurant venture gone bad due to his alcoholic brother.

Clayton gets pulled into a crisis when the firm’s top litigator Arthur (Tom Wilkinson), threatens to blow up the firm’s largest case by exposing how the client chemical company (fictional U-North) knew its product was killing people. Arthur is a brilliant but troubled lawyer with mental health issues, He strips naked during a deposition while declaring his love for the lead plaintiff, a young, pretty woman from a farm in the Midwest.

The cast in this legal thriller is excellent. Clooney delivers one of his best performances as Michael, playing it straight and leaving aside the playful attitude we see in so many of his popular performances. He’s right out of central casting as the middle aged, big firm lawyer who is doing his best to remain calm as he deals with Arthur and his own issues.

Wilkinson, on the other hand, is brilliant as the manic Arthur who feels liberated by his decision to finally come clean about his client’s misconduct after grinding on the class-action lawsuit for years. He gives us some of the most memorable scenes of the film.

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Big weekend at the box office: Twi-Hards turn out; proof that young men don’t listen (to critics)

This week, most of whatever suspense there was was not at all about which movie will be #1 or, as it turns out, #2 (not quite a 100% sure thing earlier). It had to do with what actually matters when the show business rubber meets the audience road: how much cash did the movies generate from the summer’s biggest holiday weekend but amid gloomy news and gloomier punditry regarding the economy? The answer seems to be what Joel McCrea learned at the end of “Sullivan’s Travels,” people in dire straights need entertainment and fantasy more, not less. I only wish they were getting something as thoughtful as “Ants in Your Plants of 1939.”

Edward and Bella...ooooohhhhhhhhhOver the three day Friday-Sunday weekend, Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” earned an estimated $69 million according to the Box Office Mojo chart. For the broader and potentially confusing numbers covering the extended movie weekends for the two new major new releases this week, I’ll rely on Anne Thompson’s pal Anthony D’Alessandro. He tells us “Eclipse” earned an estimated $175 million and change, just a few million bucks below the similar six-day frame of 2004’s “Spiderman 2,” though not adjusted for ongoing movie-ticket inflation.

This is the point in the series ordinarily where some might wonder if interest is starting to flag, but this is a long-running movie/book soap opera and a continuing tale similar to the Harry Potter in terms of fan interest/involvement. Also, this entry overall got significantly better reviews than the second film in the series, which might indicate the film itself is more boyfriend friendly for this very female-driven franchise.

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Celluloid Heroes: The 10 Funniest Lines of the ’00s

It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud at something a person says. Witty is one thing, but genuinely funny is another beast altogether. And when I say laugh out loud, I’m talking about involuntary spasms of laughter, the kind that take a couple of minutes to subside. There is no formula for it, and I have no criteria for what form it takes. I just know it when it see it. Unfortunately, I don’t see it often enough. Sometimes they appear in otherwise unfunny movies, at which point I usually get angry, but that’s a subject for another day.

In the first of a long list of decade-oriented blog posts about the movies of the 2000s, here are the lines that made me laugh the hardest at the Googoplex. Be advised, potential SPOILERS abound here, so I don’t want to hear that I ruined such and such movie for you. What are your favorite lines? Let’s hear ’em in the comment section.

#10: Up – Somebody always loves you
This is more of a laughter-through-tears kind of thing, but it’s my list, my rules, so it counts. Pete Docter goes straight for the heart in this movie, almost mercilessly so. The “married life” sequence makes me cry like a little girl every time I watch it, and this scene, where the loyal Dug comes to comfort Carl, is quite possibly the “Awwwwwww” moment of the decade.

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Links for a fun and strange day

I’m in the midst of a crazy day that for me that will include a screening tonight and then a quick jaunt across the street over to the New Beverly, which is in the midst of Dante’s Inferno, to catch a movie I’ve literally been trying to see for decades. It’s 1967’s “The President’s Analyst,” a political-thriller/spy comedy satire, which is basically three or four of my favorite genres all mushed up together. Writer-director Theodore J. Flicker went on to create “Barney Miller,” so there’s that, too. Sadly, I’ll miss the even more obscure first feature which I featured here just a couple of weeks back, “Cold Turkey.”

Anyhow, I shall be brief, or not. Starting now, anyway:

* It looks like there may be yet one more “last Kubrick movie” to come and it’ll be a Holocaust-themed drama to be directed by Ang Lee. Something tells me we’re looking at a Fall or Winter release here.

* Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” is attracting strong studio interest, not surprisingly. And I can still remember a time when they’d have to put a picture of a donkey on the film poster in order to get away with that title.

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Good News, Bad News

* Some of the best, or at least most interesting, news I’ve heard in a while regarding the film business is the announcement, as reported by Indiewire‘s Eugene Hernandez, of the formation of DF Indie Studios. Presumably named for the project’s two chief executives, Mary Dickinson and Charlene Fisher, the group’s press release says the company plans to release 10-12 “multi-genre” films annually with a budget of $10 million or less. The group’s slogan is “Indie Style – Studio Dependability,” which I think a lot of filmmakers might describe as something like heaven on earth, relatively speaking. Among the big names who’ve become publicly involved with the project are indie mainstay producer Ted Hope, whose associated with most of Ang Lee’s films, among many others, and “Michael Clayton” Oscar winner Tilda Swinton (also “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and numerous indie productions you’ve never heard of).

Personally, I think most mainstream films are way too costly, and I’d like to see a variation of this idea applied to all kinds of films, not just traditional indie subject matter. So, I like the idea that they say they’ll be doing “multi-genre” films that will be, of course, “commercially viable.” (They still need investors.) Personally, I’m hoping that they take a fairly loose approach and include a bit of the old wild and wooly Roger Corman ethos alongside more refined productions. If they’re a success, maybe the big studios might want to copy them. They copy everything successful.

* This simply stinks.  Whoever’s responsible for releasing the material (which I haven’t seen and absolutely won’t be linking to) should be ashamed. As for those who’ve raised moral/health objections, I ask: Would we critize straight show business types and call for the sexual responsibility police like this? All around very not cool.

I’m perhaps a little extra mad about this because back in 2003 I interviewed Dustin Lance Black for this way-geeky piece. (It’s got a very long set-up, explaining my personal connection to the very good documentary Dustin had just finished at the time, the actual interviews starts here.) The guy couldn’t have been nicer or more unassuming, we had a great talk, and I’ve been rooting for his success ever since. (He even mentioned to me, post interview that he was starting work on a script about Harvey Milk, to which I said sagely, “good idea.” Now, I ask: Where’s my profit participation?!) He does not deserve this.

On the other hand, when was the last time anyone was interested in a writer’s sex life?

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