Weekend Roundup – LAMMYs and Michael Clayton review

Happy Monday, everybody! You are now viewing FlixChatter’s 600th post! 😀

Hope y’all had a smashing weekend. It’s certainly a hectic but fun one for me — my hubby and I did the Kids Against Hunger’s Fill Their Plate 10K & 5K Run early Saturday morning and went to the Stone Arch Festival for some live music Sunday afternoon. We made the most of Minnesota’s short Summer days even when the sun was quite elusive throughout the weekend.

Oh, I also want to say a quick THANK YOU to those who voted for me at this year’s LAMMY Awards that I talked about in this post. Well, I made it to runner-up spot for BEST NEW LAMB! Sooo exciting! I never thought I’d even be nominated so this is very humbling indeed! CONGRATS to Stevee Taylor at CINEMATIC PARADOX for winning first place!!

Did anybody see Green Lantern at the movies? It reigns number one at the box office with $52.7 million, not bad considering the dismal reviews (25% on RottenTomatoes, yikes!). Looks like my friend Scarlet Sp1der agrees with the critics (read his review), but two of Anomalous Material’s staff like it a bit more. Regardless of the critical reception, I had no interest in seeing from the moment I saw the trailer, it’s a rental at best for me. I like Ryan Reynolds but not enough to see a film solely just for him, and the look of the movie nor the characters did nothing to entice me. Raghav from Ticker Film Talks begs to differ though, as he actually listed 12 reasons for why you should go and watch the movie.

We skipped the cinema but did manage to watch a really good movie Michael Clayton. We’ve been curious about it for ages, but when Ted put Tilda Swinton’s character as his top ten movie villains, I immediately bumped it up in my Netflix queue. Here’s my quick review:

Michael Clayton (2007)

This movie wasn’t in my radar much when it came out, even when it was nominated for several major awards I was sort of blase about it. But I’m glad I finally got around to seeing it as it’s certainly is a first-rate legal drama, much akin to The Insider which was perhaps the best Russell Crowe’s role to date. The difference is The Insider is inspired by a real life story of Jeffrey Wigand, whilst this one is written by Tony Gilroy specifically for a feature film.

What’s even more impressive is that this is also Tony Gilroy’s directorial debut. George Clooney plays the title role, a high-priced ‘janitor’ as he refers to his profession, a corporate lawyer who specializes on cleaning up other people’s messes. This time it’s a big one where several billion dollars are at stake as U-North, an agriculture products conglomerate is involved in a being sued in a class action case over the effects of toxic agrochemicals.

The film opens with a rambling narration (which sounds like a voice mail message) from Clayton’s colleague Arthur Eden which at first doesn’t seem to be making much sense but we later learns that he’s having a crisis of conscience in regards to his job. Arthur is the chief lawyer assigned by his firm to ‘clean up’ U-North’s big mess, but given that he’s suffering from bipolar disorder, his change of heart is easily dismissed by people (including Clayton) as simply a mental breakdown.

It’s apparent that Clayton is disillusioned with his profession, yet he’s caught in a major predicament given his financial setback in regards to his failed restaurant/bar business he hoped would be the key to getting out of being a lawyer. This subplot is running in parallel with the main storyline in a way that’s a bit tough to follow at times, but once it all clicks, we’re on for quite a thrill ride. Those who are expecting this to be a full-on action thriller will be disappointed though, but I actually love this kind of thriller. The suspense isn’t in the car chase or full-throttle shoot-out, but it’s in finding out just what is at stake for the characters involved and the kind of decisions they take that make you go ‘whoa!’

The strength of this film is in the well-crafted script and stellar acting… all of which are deservedly nominated for Oscar. Gilroy nabbed two nominations for writing and directing, and all THREE major actors (Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton) receive acting nominations but only Swinton went home with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I’m not Clooney’s biggest fan (which explains why this film eluded me) but he’s excellent here and it’s one of his most nuanced performances of his career (no annoying smirk in sight). But to me, the real stars of this picture are the Brits playing Americans, Swinton and Wilkinson. They’re both so tremendous in this that whenever they’re on screen, they practically ‘dwarf’ whoever else is on screen with them (yes, including Clooney).

Swinton as U-North’s general counsel is the picture of corporate villainy where blinding ambition steers someone towards utter wickedness. It’s ironic that her profession by definition is responsible for trying to assure that the company is acting within the law, clearly that’s so not the case in this movie. It is deeply unsettling to watch her in her panic attacks or as she nervously prepares for key speeches she has to deliver the next day… a lost soul with nothing but her drive to move up the corporate ladder to keep her going.

I can’t recommend this film enough for those looking for an intelligent and thought-provoking thriller. It also boasts a satisfying ending that makes you want to clap and cheer!

4.5 out of 5 reels

So what did you end up seeing this weekend? Have you seen ‘Michael Clayton’? Do share your thoughts on it in the comments!

Guest Post: Top ten movie villains from the 80s – today

Well, now that you’ve read my villains analysis post, these are my top ten favorite/best villains in films since the 80s, I know I left out some well known ones but that’s because most people have already chose them. So I decided to go with some not so well known or no that popular villains in the last 30 years or so. Here goes:

1. Chad from In the Company of Men (1997) – Aaron Eckhart’s first leading role and wow was he great in this movie. He played one of the most despicable characters I’ve ever seen on screen. I truly hated his character and by the end of the movie, I wanted to beat the crap out of him. What’s more disturbing is that these kinds of people do exist in real life. In fact, I had a friend who has the same characteristics as that of Eckhart’s character. I got so annoyed by him that I’m no longer friends with him. But back to this movie, if you’ve never seen it, please give it a rent. And if you didn’t want to smack Eckhart’s character by the time the film’s over, then you may have a problem.

2. Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) – Alan Rickman is a great actor and of course he always played a great villain. Since most people named his Hans Gruber or Snape character as their favorite villain, I’m gonna go with his Sheriff of Nottingham character from 1991’s Robin Hood film. The role wasn’t as memorable as Gruber or Snape but he was the only good thing in the movie.

3. Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs (1991) – I saw this film when I was very young and that mirror scene disturbed me so much that I lost my appetite every time that scene came to my head. It’s still disturbing to me now if watch that scene again. Many people would pick Dr. Lecter but he wasn’t the villain in this movie, he was actually helping our heroine trying to capture Buffalo Bill. I was glad the film version cut out the backstory of how Bill became a killer; it made him more mysterious and scary. The book gave away too much information about his life and you ended up symphonizes with him.

4. Clarence Boddicker from Robocop (1987) – Out of all of Kurtwood Smith’s roles, his most memorable one to me has to be this nasty crime boss, he played a stone cold killer with no remorse whatsoever. The scene where he and his gang of thugs tortured and killed Alex Murphy was probably the most disturbing scene in the movie for me. I saw the film when I was ten years old so yeah it was quite disturbing at the time.

5. Magneto from the X-Men films (2000, 2003, 2006) – I loved The X-Men cartoon from the 1990s and Magneto was my favorite villain from the show. So when they finally announced the film version, I was a bit skeptical when they cast Ian McKellen as Magneto. In the comics and cartoon, he’s this muscular character but McKellen pulled it off and now I think of him as Magneto. Let’s hope Fassbender can play the role in the new X-Men film as well as McKellen did.

6. Annie Wilkes from Misery (1990) – Kathy Bates did such an amazing job that every time I see her in other films or TV show, I’d always think of her as Annie. If you think Annie was nasty in the movie, give the novel a read, oh boy she was 3 times nastier in the book.

7. The Terminator from The Terminator (1984) – No one thought that a small budget movie about a time travelling killer cyborg would spawn three sequels but it happened. Thanks largely to Arnold’s turn as the memorable cyborg killer; the film has become a pop icon in American cinemas. Oh yeah this was the film where he uttered his most famous line “I’ll be back.” Here’s a little nugget, Cameron wrote the part of The Terminator as a regular looking person and wanted Arnold for the role of Kyle Reese. Lance Henriksen, who played the cop in the movie, actually auditioned for the Terminator role. But when Cameron finally met Arnold in person, he decided to he wanted Arnold to play The Terminator and offered the role to him. Unbeknownst to Cameron, Arnold wanted to play The Terminator from the beginning and he was going to ask Cameron if he can take that role instead of the Kyle Reese role but Cameron offered him The Terminator role right away and as they say the rest is history. It worked out for great for both of them since both became famous and quite rich after they made this film together.

8. Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men (2007) – Another unstoppable killer on my list, except this one was not a robot but he’s sure act like one didn’t he? I know that this film has its fans and haters; personally I thought it’s a near masterpiece. I’ve seen the film at least 20 times now and I’m always fascinated with the Chigurh character. He’s killer who enjoys killing for the fun of it, in a way he’s very similar to The Terminator. He wants that case of money and he’ll kill whoever was in his way.

9. Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode 1 (1999) – I only include him on this list because he’s the only good thing in this film and I love that light saber battle at the end. The pod race sequence was pretty cool too. That’s all I can say about this film without offending the Star Wars fanatics out there.

10. Karen Crowder from Michael Clayton (2007) – Tilda Swinton’s role as a tough corporate climber executive was one of the most realistic take I’ve ever seen in a film. Why did I say her character was so realistic? Well I’ve worked in big corporations in the last 10 years or so and I dealt with that kind of person many times. In a scene where she first met Clooney’s character and she wasn’t too happy of what Clooney had told her; sort of brought back some bad memories for me. You see I do web design for a living and I have to present my designs to top level executives, a few years back I worked at a large corporation, I won’t name which one, I had to present my design comps of a new site. Well a couple of the executives just told me flat out that they hated the design and didn’t even bother to see the rest of them. Mind you I’d spent hours working on the comps so that was quite a painful experience. Anyhoo, I thought Tilda did a great job playing this kind of character. Now in the movie her character ordered a hit on someone, I don’t know if any of the executives I used to work for did that. I just wanted to make that clear.

Well, that’s my list. Any thoughts about any of my picks? Feel free to share who you think is a memorable movie villains.