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!