October 12, 2007, - 12:33 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
There are lots of new releases, but I only screened the two biggest ones (will have reviews of others early next week):
* “We Own The Night“: This is being compared to “Serpico” and “Prince of the City” by many movie critics, and it is similar. Still, it was a little flat for me, especially for a New York cop versus the (Russian) Mob movie. The title of this movie is far more commanding and interesting sounding than the actual movie, itself. While it’s entertaining enough, it wasn’t exciting enough. Still, Joaquin Phoenix’s acting here is excellent (whereas criminal thug Mark Wahlberg‘s is not).
The plot: Phoenix plays Bobby Green, the manager of a “Studio 54″-style disco nightclub, who does coke, lives the good life, and has a hot Puerto Rican girlfriend (Eva Mendes). But he is the Black sheep of his Polish-American family of New York police officers who are upset by his career choice and lifestyle. His nightclub is owned by the Russian mob, who are the target of Mark Wahlberg, his police officer brother (and his police officer father, Robert Duvall). He refuses to get involved, until the Russian mob attacks Wahlberg. Then, he picks the right side. But picking the right side doesn’t always end up completely ideal. Sometimes, it’s messy. Still, the end result of this movie is the best part of it.
The movie is somewhat violent, a little bloody, and has some gratuitous nudity and sex scenes. Definitely not for kids.
* “Michael Clayton“: Many are comparing this law firm thriller, starring George Clooney, to “The Firm.” But it’s not nearly as exciting or tightly woven. And it’s far more political–as you’d expect from wear-his-leftism-on-his-sleeve Clooney: the villain in this film is evil big business, a chemical company, which is poisoning the water of and killing cute farmer’s daughters in Wisconsin.
The plot: Clooney is “the cleaner,” a lawyer in a big New York law firm, who doesn’t really have a clear legal job. Instead, he’s “the lawyer’s lawyer.” He cleans up messes that firm lawyers get themselves into. He smoothes things over with big clients. He gets big clients just the right criminal defense attorney. And yet he still doesn’t know there’s no more INS in existence (replaced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement–ICE).
Now, Clooney must clean up after a firm lawyer who went nuts and screwed up a case for the evil chemical company, trying to defend itself against claims it negligently poisoned innocent farmer’s water. And Clooney finds himself in a moral dilemma: Does he fix the mess for the client and the firm? Does he continue doing the “cleaning”? Or does he do the right thing and violate attorney-client privilege, exposing the bad guys?
A subplot about Clooney’s lack of finances as the law firm “cleaner” was distracting, but it was the only interesting part of the movie. More boring than exciting, and too many unbelievable characters, like the crazy chemical company’s female general counsel and the not-actually-so-looney-after-all law firm litigator defending her company in the litigation.
Think lawyers’ lives are boring? They are. And this unexciting movie is more of that, and it’s not a fantastic movie. Just okay.
Again, could have done without the blatant moralizing against “evil” big business.
Tags: chemical, crazy chemical, criminal defense attorney, cute farmer, Debbie Schlussel There, Eva Mendes, evil chemical, firm lawyer, General Counsel, George Clooney, Green, innocent farmer, Joaquin Phoenix, law, law firm thriller, lawyer, manager, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Clayton, New York, New York Police, not-actually-so-looney-after-all law firm litigator, poisoning, police officer, Prince, Prince of the City, Robert Duvall, Serpico, The Firm, We Own The Night, Wisconsin