Directed by Tony Gilroy
USA 2007

 

Tony Gilroy, co-author of the superb Jason Bourne film trilogy, makes a stunning directorial debut with "Michael Clayton," an out-of-courtroom drama that helps solidify George Clooney's acting bona fides.

Gilroy's crafty original script is a legal thriller in the vein of Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict" and Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice." All three are about acts of malfeasance and the peeling away of their layered coverups, and with this performance, Clooney reminds me of no one so much as the star of those earlier films, Paul Newman.

It's no coincidence that Pollack co-produced "Michael Clayton" and snatched a fine supporting role for himself. He plays Marty Bach, the head of a Manhattan law firm that is heavily infested in defending an agrichemical company in a $3 billion class action lawsuit.

With the plaintiffs losing their resolve, a massive crisis erupts when Bach's lead attorney, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), appears to have a mental breakdown during a deposition.

Clooney's title character, known as "the fixer" at the firm, is sent to Wisconsin to retrieve Arthur and get the case back on track. But when Arthur, who is manic-depressive and has documents proving his client's guilt, turns up dead, Clayton faces his own crisis of conscience.

Gilroy has already proven himself a strong developer of character and plot. With this, he shows he is a terrific actors' director as well. Every performance in this film is spot-on.

Excerpt from the New York Daily News located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 31st, 2007 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Review: Warner - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:59:44 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.36 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUBs: Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles English, English (CC), French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary from director and editor with optional subtitles
• Additional Scenes with optional commentary

DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008
Keep Case
Chapters: 27

 

Comments:

All good. Another above-average transfer from Warner - dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic. Detail has some strong moments and contrast and dark scenes are good. There is some minor noise, but again representational of its SD limitations. I expect the Blu-ray to be an improvement in most areas. Overall it is quite dark and the DVD image quality duplicates that downcast 'aura' of the film.  Aside from one or two scenes the 5.1 audio is fairly under-utilized - but sounds adequately separated once it's called upon. There are optional subtitles. More good news again on the visual front is that I don't see excessive manipulation and the image is expectantly pristinely clean.

The optional commentary discusses the formation of plot details (John Gilroy - younger brother of the director Tony) and some production attributes (chosen color pallets etc...). There are a few gaps. I really appreciate the optional subtitles for the commentary - BFI have been doing it for a while. I think it's a great idea (especially if you have sleeping kids around). There are some additional scenes not used in the final cut - as a matter of fact, all the scenes with Jennifer Ehle as Clayton's girlfriend were removed (you can see her here).

The film? - I liked it more than a friend of mine. I especially would like to extol accolades of Tilda Swinton's work - her minor role is significant and she gives a fabulous performance. Ditto for Tom Wilkinson. I also saw a bit more range from Clooney than I have seen in the past. The film is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle that unifies fairly tightly in the finale - but we've seen this is the modus operandi of much modern cinema today. It is very competent but I think could have been better in another filmmaker's hands. I do recommend seeing this one but it may possibly not be necessary to bump your viewing to Blu-ray as the film doesn't support dynamic visuals (as say a 3:10 to Yuma or Across the Universe). Definitely worth a spin.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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