September 26, 2007

Toronto and the UK. Michael Clayton.

Michael Clayton "Does [George Clooney] deliver?" asks Premiere's Glenn Kenny. "Yeah - enough to make you forgive plot holes and emotional string-pulling that could have sunk a film that didn't have him in it."

"I guess you could describe [Michael Clayton] as a Manhattan 'legal thriller' - most of the main characters are corporate lawyers - that strikes a delicate tonal balance between the cynical political paranoia of the Bourne movies, the satirical paranoia of Network, the corporate paranoia of The Insider and the legalistic paranoia of Erin Brockovich," writes Jim Emerson. "And, as in all these movies, when you're feeling paranoid, it doesn't mean somebody isn't out to get you."

Updated through 10/1.

"Michael Clayton is the kind of intelligent, entertaining cinema you thought Hollywood had forgotten how to make," writes Matt Riviera. "[Tony] Gilroy takes his time, refusing to rush into a complex story, getting through the exposition cleverly rather than quickly. He can't afford to take any short cuts: his three-dimensional characters are conflicted, the likeable ones do unspeakable things, the dogy ones surprise us with their intelligense and common sense. Nor does he attempt to pimp his talky script with romance or car chases, sentimentality or even heroics. He trusts the material enough, not to mention the smart and eloquent dialogue."

Interviews? Oh, yes. James Mottram (Independent) and David Gritten (Telegraph) talk with Clooney; Kate Muir (London Times) and Charlotte Higgins (Guardian) meet Tilda Swinton.

At the Reeler, Christopher Campbell finds this one "a crackling legal thriller so tightly written (by Tony Gilroy, also the film's director), plotted and acted that it's a bit cold, even intimidating," and he, too, gets a few words with Clooney and Swinton.

Updates, 9/28: "Tony Gilroy's corporate conspiracy thriller opens with such a powerful sense of foreboding that the ceiling could cave in and you'd still be sitting there, gripped," writes the Independent's Anthony Quinn.

"Perhaps it could be objected that Clooney's style and body language as a loser are not so very different from when he plays a winner," supposes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "It's an arresting performance none the less: muscular and pain-racked at once."

"Clooney has seldom been better as Clayton, a man beginning to feel that his skill is not exactly being put to good uses, while [Tom] Wilkinson, as the attack-dog lawyer now convinced he's wasting his talent and collapsing under the strain, is as good as ever," writes Derek Malcolm in the Evening Standard. "But it is Swinton, as the nervy chief counsel for the chemical company, who trumps them both. To see her faced by Clayton with the enormity of her position is to see a great actress at work in a film that's good enough to keep her at full stretch."

"Clooney is a haunted marvel as Clayton," adds James Christopher in the London Times.

"[Y]ou sometimes wonder if Clooney himself would prefer to be admired than loved," writes the Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu. Michael Clayton is "a weighty, sophisticated feature... But it's so self-consciously adult, so deliberately downbeat. You wonder: does Clooney look down on his abilities as a comic actor?"

John Horn profiles Clooney for the Los Angeles Times.

Updates, 9/30: "What we have at the heart of this excellent thriller is a story of greed, the misuse of the law, the contempt of the powerful for the weak and the small window of decency through which such things can be corrected," writes Philip French in the Observer.

John Horn profiles Clooney for the Los Angeles Times.

Updates, 10/1: Gilroy "makes Swinton a fascinating face of evil," writes New York's David Edelstein. "She'll do anything to measure up to her boss and mentor (Ken Howard) - which drives home the point that it's the people who are least secure in their power who tend to abuse it so impulsively."

"Gilroy is an entertainer, and he wants to show us everything - dirty secrets held by prestige law firms, the moral squalor of big-time corporate power and what it does to people, the moments of conscience and decency in messed-up lives," writes David Denby in the New Yorker. "He's good with actors, and Michael Clayton has pace and drive - it's enormous fun. But I hope that as Gilroy continues directing he will let his movies breathe more.... Tony Gilroy has produced a screenwriter's film, which assumes that people who move through different worlds will alter their speech without losing their idiosyncratic style. Against all Hollywood wisdom, he trusts the audience to enjoy the texture and the power of words."

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Posted by dwhudson at September 26, 2007 3:14 PM