Michael Clayton (2007)

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Released 19-Mar-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-With Tony Gilroy (Director) and John Gilroy (Editor)
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 114:46
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tony Gilroy
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Wilkinson
Michael O'Keefe
Sydney Pollack
Danielle Skraastad
Tilda Swinton
George Clooney
Wai Chan
Case ?
RPI ? Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is a "fixer" for one of New York's largest law firms. When the proverbial poo has hit the fan, Michael is the man they send in to clean it all up. He is a highly talented lawyer in his own right, but the combination of his bad habits (namely drinking and gambling) and varied skills have kept him working out of the public eye and never on any case of his own. Michael's vices have held back his career progression within the firm despite being one of their greatest assets. A string of bad debts leaves him financially dependent on them. Unsurprisingly, this has complicated his family life. Still, Michael is bitter but fiercely dedicated.

    One of the firms leading clients is U-North, a chemical company who have been locked in a six year long class action suit against a group of people who have contracted cancer from their pesticides. The case is looking promising until the leading attorney, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), stops taking his meds. Edens suffers a breakdown during a mediation and the firm is sent into damage control. Senior partner Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack) sends Clayton in to sort out the mess.

    U-North's own in-house counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton in an Oscar-winning performance) has also gone into damage control. Suspicious of what Clayton is up to, Crowder starts her own investigations. At first this leads to a battle of wits with Clayton, whose first priority is his firm rather than U-North, but is not long before this corporate battle becomes much more sinister.

    Michael Clayton is a taut thriller. Pulling together a tense battle of wits and a sinister corporate conspiracy, the film is quite reminiscent of Sydney Pollack's thrillers Three Days of the Condor, The Yakuza and the recent The Interpreter. Pollack's presence in the film further reinforces these similarities, and also offers a level of endorsement to the film (perhaps he's passing the torch to director Tony Gilroy). Thankfully, these similarities do not amount to a rip off. Michael Clayton walks its own path and brings a renewed spirit to the genre.

    The characters of the film are incredibly well fleshed out. Furthermore, every significant character is played flawlessly. The performances are excellent. Tilda Swinton deservedly picked up a best supporting actress gong at the 2008 Academy Awards for her performance. George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. Tom Wilkinson deserved to win (at least he was beaten by a genuinely deserving performance from Javier Bardem).

    For my money, Michael Clayton was the best movie of 2007. It offers deep intrigue that is guaranteed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, solid characters and brilliant performances. It is one of the most subversive, anti-corporate films you are likely to see come out of the Hollywood studio system. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video looks excellent. The image is razor sharp. The level of detail in shadows is excellent and blacks are very well defined. Mild film grain is present.

    The colour in the transfer is bold and even. The film makes excellent use of blue-grey tones and this is well represented in the transfer.

    There are no signs of compression related artefacts or film artefacts in the transfer.

    English subtitles are present and appear to be accurate and well timed.

    This is an RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 66:59 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    An English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbps) audio track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kbps) audio track are present for the feature.

    The dialogue is clearly audible and well synchronised.

    The film features an orchestral score by James Newton Howard. It does seem like thriller-score-by-numbers, but fits the film well.

    The film makes dynamic use of the surrounds throughout. The soundscape is effectively used to build tension and draw particular attention to key passages of dialogue. The subwoofer is used sparingly, but to good effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras package is disappointingly slim. Even the menus are a static, silent affair (once you have endured an irritating anti-piracy clip).

Audio Commentary with writer-director Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy

    A dry, technical commentary. The tone is serious and the pair don't have anything much to say (though they take their time to say it). Even the most ardent fans will probably want to skip this one.

Deleted Scenes

    A handful of deleted scenes with optional commentary. These scenes are relatively interesting. The scenes feature an additional character; a casual girlfriend of Michael's that was removed to shorten and de-clutter the character development.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions are identical in terms of content.

Summary

    Michael Clayton is a taut corporate thriller, filled with brilliant performances and interesting characters. Stylistically, the film borrows from Sydney Pollack's thrillers, though it brings a fresh energy to the screen.

    The extras are quite limited.

    The video and audio are both of a very high standard.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
also out on blu - penguin (there is no bio)