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Michael Clayton

I'm in a movie-going mode. Yesterday I saw Michael Clayton.

It's a little confusing going in. It starts literally in the middle, then backtracks. Background was really cut to the bone. The concept is simple when you finally get it. Michael is a lawyer in a large firm whose special talent is as a "fixer", a "janitor". The guy they send out to fix the impossible problems. He is not particularly happy in this role and has tried to go back to being a litigator. I get the sense he thinks his job is a little - or a lot - "dirty". Yet he needs it, he does it. A few years before the action, he attempted to start a restaurant as a backup, somewhere to go when the lawyering no longer worked. It never got off the ground, from what I could tell. He also had problems with gambling. So he's doing the work he needs to do but he's deeply in debt.

And then he is faced with what ultimately turns out to be an ethical problem. And we are right if we wonder if he will rise to it.

That's all I'll say about the plot.

I would have liked if the nature of his character had been explored a little more, more than the occasional reference to his card-playing, the efforts to pay his debt. I didn't feel I got enough of that. It's a hard call, I'm sure, for a director: to over- or under-sell, and I will usually opt for under. I just wanted a little more angst, somehow.

I feel obligated, given my position on the subject, to point out that the person in this film who has "bi-polar disorder" might have been better served not taking pills, but that's of course a peripheral argument. Still, it bothers me when persons in film and on television assert that other persons have "chemical imbalances" when such imbalances have never been proven and probably will not be, given the nature of the specific chemicals in question. I leave that there just as a bit of a tantalizer for those who care to look this shit up.

Those were the two main drawbacks to me. The pluses: George Clooney looks good and acts terrifically. The dialog, especially with his son, seems very genuine. The storyline moves rapidly and kept me going with it.

On my way out of the theater I heard someone say, "Is that Judy?" It turned out to be two former co-workers, from city of SLO days. They had seen the same flick. I told them I had no idea going in what the movie was about but "George Clooney. Good enough for me." They laughed because that was their motivation as well. And it's a good enough one! You get to see a lot of him here.

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