October 12, 2007, - 12:33 pm

Weekend Box Office: “We Own The Night,” “Michael Clayton”

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).

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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.

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6 Responses

Hi Debbie,
I’m a big fan.
Thanks for doing so much hard work.
Please write me and we can chat.
Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

Maksim-Smelchak on October 12, 2007 at 3:51 pm

What the hell should make me care for the man that riuned the batman movies in 1997? Why is he all over the place these days? And why is he considered “sexy”?

Squirrel3D on October 12, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Re Michael Clayton, aren’t we tired of the Killer Corp story yet? Pharma kills Africans, nuclear power stations kill Meryl Street… Well, we are tired, Hollywood isn’t, I guess.

PJ on October 13, 2007 at 12:31 pm

The finances subplot is interesting but far-fetched. A law firm’s fixers are usually exceeded in pay only to the rainmakers. More often than not, the rainmakers and fixers are the same people.
chsw

chsw on October 15, 2007 at 8:43 am

Squirrel3D
I agree I have never understood the fascination that Hollywood has with George Clooney. IMHO he is a lousy actor and an even worse human being.

ScottyDog on October 15, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Hi,
I just rented Michael Clayton last night. I usually don’t care about George Clooney’s politics when I watch him in a movie. The only one that bothered me was that Edward R. Murrow movie that he was in. Robert Downey, Jr. was in that one too and I usually like him in anything too. I guess I just didn’t care for that movie.
But anyway, I liked Michael Clayton. I thought it was a well written kind of like a slice of life short story. I recommend it to anyone interested in a complicated family background with an interesting if unsatisfying work history. I’m still rethinking things in the movie, I only find myself doing that with good films.

KosherCuvee.com on August 6, 2008 at 2:17 pm

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