Every year I try to see the majority of films nominated for all of the major Oscar categories. However, this year I missed out on Michael Clayton. So yesterday night I made a trip to the shop, bought it, and threw it in the player. Most people already know my stance on Clooney: The guy can do no wrong. I would watch a day in the life of George and be fascinated and swooned, there’s no doubt in my mind. This movie is just one more shining example of this. Granted, more people were involved than just him. I’m just saying, it didn’t fucking hurt.
For those who aren’t too familiar, Michael Clayton is a film about a janitor. Not the kind of janitor that does crazy-hard math problems that are written on chalkboards in college hallways; has a photographic memory and curses like a sailor. Not the kind of janitor that makes quirky comments in some California hospital while a bunch of 20-something doctors figure out life and its many mysteries either. No, this janitor cleans up the mess left by highly paid corporate criminals. One such corporation being U North, a company that manufactures fertilizer—a fertilizer that causes cancer and severe human tissue damage.
After spending years of his life protecting and defending this corrupt giant, Arthur (Tom Wilkinson) finally breaks free from the dark side.
I realized Michael, that I had emerged not from the doors of Kenner, Bach, and Odeen, not through the portals of our vast and powerful law firm, but from the asshole of an organism who’s sole function is to excrete the… the… the poison, the ammo, the defoliant necessary for other, larger, more powerful organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity. And that I had been coated in this patina of shit for the best part of my life.
Clayton (Clooney) is then sent in to remedy the situation, find out what is going on with Arthur and smooth out any creases in the blanket of foul deeds.
So that’s the plot, kinda. I mean, a lot of other stuff is going on at the same time that I’d rather not give away. I will say that the acting is paramount and all of the nominations were well-deserved, including Tilda Swinton’s nod and win for supporting actress. Most importantly, this is a role that Clooney was born to play. His gruff exterior and natural charm are ideal for a janitor of this sort. I had to laugh though, at one point Sydney Pollack, who plays Clooney’s boss, says that he (Clayton) looks like shit. For Clooney, looking like shit apparently means he hasn’t shaved for a day and his head hangs a little lower than normal. Clooney never looks like shit. In fact, make-up probably spent an extra forty minutes making him look more haggard than he would naturally if he hadn’t slept in two days. Anywho, I thought that was funny.
Additionally, the pacing of the movie is perfect. You follow Clayton on his journey through the slimy schemes, curious about what will happen next and then in a fantastic final scene….I won’t say what happens. However, I felt the urge to applaud in my living room. It’s great. It’s real great.
So rent the movie, or if you have some extra dough lying around, just buy it. It is a good one to own, lend out to friends or watch when you’re in the mood to see some scum bags go down.
Filed under: Film/Television