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Michael Clayton
Michael Clayton

April 17, 2008
HDTV Solutions

Where to start covering the complex and troubled life of corporate lawyer Michael Clayton? Gambler. Loser. Debtor. Drinker. Divorcee. Single dad. Broke and burnt-out. And that's only his private life.

Despite Clayton's haute post as clean-up-guy and fixer - skills that elude him in his personal life - the shambles of his home spill into his employment. His legal firm needs him in its pursuit of dirty justice, this time in the hands of a gigantean agrichemical company. Lots are at stake with the class-action suit, a case of dire pollution. It's this litigious tar baby that's gumming up Clayton's career and soiling his character.

We know all is not well when Clayton's car explodes without him. With so many pissed players, the flash-back thriller is propelled into action.

Michael Clayton

Rather than tell enticing tidbits about the plot, allow the Academy to endorse the film. Nominee George Clooney stars while winner Tilda Swinton and nominee Tom Wilkinson support. The trio have plenty of back-up talent with the likes of perennial actor-cum-director-cum-actor, Sydney Pollack, as firm partner.

The Oscar contenders dazzled. Clooney comes from a rich genealogy of mythic Hollywood actors where the performance is so seemingly effortless and the charm so entrenched that there is no need for skill. Elegance and humor come with the package, and so too their indelible unique personalities. Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant come to mind. They are so comfortable in their own skins that they themselves are the character. George Cooney, just as you see him on the Tonight Show, is the perfect Michael Clayton.

Swinton, as desperate counsel Karen Crowder, is the opposite. An empty canvas, a chameleon able to subvert her own personality and morph into any role assigned. She can wear the skin of strangers.

Michael Clayton

As lawyer Arthur Edens, a man too late for penance, the Wilkinson performance is as racking and raw as a salted wound. We watch him strip to his skivvies to bare his soul. We are voyeurs - brazen peeping Toms peering into his stark naked remorse.

Nominated as Best Director and as Best Writing of Screenplay for the Screen, Tony Gilroy's debut directing achievement was also up for Best Motion Picture of the Year. (He penned the Bourne trilogy.) For the ears, the Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score nomination went to James Newton Howard.

Michael Clayton

Moreover, three former winning Academy Directors - Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella and Steven Soderbergh - were participating producers. If they back a film, who can resist? Michael Clayton is a sure candidate for any home theater. Ask Roger Ebert. He loved it twice.

Special Features

The Extras are lean, including only three favorite deleted scenes and the reasons why.

The major event is the voice-over chitchat between Tony and his brother John. The Director and Editor, respectively, stroll through the movie reminiscing, a feature especially suitable for any writer dreaming of directing. They did answer skeptics' and critics' questions about some of the less convincing writer/director's plot choices, but for most viewers, the dramatic ride is too engaging to niggle the storyline. Our advice is to follow Ebert: a more enlightening way to spend two hours would be a second viewing.

(Warner Home Video has also released Michael Clayton on the HD DVD format.)

Michael Clayton

Studio: Warner Brothers

Director: Tony Gilroy

Cast: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, Michael O'Keefe, Danielle Skraastad

Length: 120 minutes

Rated: R

Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2:40:1

  Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
  Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
  Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

English SDH, French, Spanish

Purchase Michael Clayton [Blu-ray]
Purchase Michael Clayton (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) [HD DVD]

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