Michael Clayton (Blu-Ray)

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I’m pretty tired of covers to be honest with you all. I have tried to see them for what they are, miniature posters meant to give each DVD it’s own packaging personality, but then most of them suck and it’s hard to have any appreciation for the ‘art’ of DVD cover design. I have found a few that I love, some I am impressed with, and a couple that I would put on display in my own house. And then there are the rest. Michael Clayton is neutral. It makes no impact whatsoever. I appreciate the simplicity. I like that the title of the movie is easy to read. That’s about all I can say.

The menu is even more neutral, if that’s possible. It’s Warner Brothers so there is no menu before the movie starts. You stick in the DVD and the movie plays…I really love that. When you do dredge up the menu it’s a simple blue-grey straight forward thing that slides up the bottom of the screen and that’s it. Hey, if they are going to choose horrible and gaudy with tons of flimflam to wade through, or understated bordering on boring, I choose understated.

Features: 4/10
Additional Scenes – I’m convinced that these scenes being cut from the movie is a good thing. Sometimes a scene can take a character to a whole different place and in the end, it can be distracting rather than add to the story. A scene where Michael Clayton has a woman in his life doesn’t do anything for the whole idea that he’s a man who’s kind of alone and on the edge. The other scene is pretty forgettable actually, so it’s not missed. I listened to the commentary over each scene and it was worth it to hear why the scenes were made and why they were cut.

Commentary By Writer/Director & Editor – Gilroy is alright to listen to. He borders on monotone sometimes, but I like what he has to say and he’s not Mr. Hollywood name dropping or tall tales with a lot of inside jokes or comments that we little people won’t understand. Oh, you know you have listened to commentary like that before…admit it!

Movie: 8/10
You’ll notice the overall score is 8. Even though the whole DVD isn’t much of a package. I have mentioned before that occasionally a movie is better than the DVD will ever be, so it’s worth it to give it what it deserves. I did enjoy this movie. It’s not cheery or happy or even entertaining. It’s not an original story or even innovative story telling. Hmmm so what is so good about Michael Clayton? The people, the tone, the pace, and other intangibles I can’t find the right words for at this time (surprise).

I always like those human tales of self discovery. They can be a bit preachy or obvious, and this one is too, but it’s a grown up and even tempered so I didn’t feel the urge to roll my eyes even once. Tom Wilkinson is brilliant. I can’t add much to that to make it more clear. He’s the heart of the movie for me. Clooney’s character is Michael Clayton, a man who seems to have his shit together but behind the slick suit and perfectly graying hair he’s falling a part.
Like I said, it’s not original. A main character who appears to be one thing but behind closed doors is a mess, common. It’s what Clooney and Wilkinson bring to every scene that makes it more meaningful, somehow. I’m a believer in those moments in life when you wake up, so to speak, and have to decide to keep on with all the bullshit or to make your own way in the world.

We meet Wilkinson after he’s had his moment, accompanied by an emotional breakdown. Clooney gets mixed up in it all, trying to brush it all under the rug, but you know from the start he’s headed to some kind of self realization…maybe. They both work for a big law firm that has been defending a large chemical corporation for many years against charges that their products are dangerous and have killed people. I felt like I knew where the story was going most of the time so that took some of the polish off for me. There were moments of greatness though, enough to make this a great movie watching experience.

Clooney is Clooney, handsome, brooding, a bit of a Hollywood big cheese, and that comes off as arrogant and pretty self indulgent most of the time. In this however, he has a few glimmers of something more than a heart throb. I know that’s not much of a compliment, but if you are on the fence with this guy the way I am and then you see what I see in Michael Clayton, well, you and me, we’re on the same friggin’ page!!

This is a story about the difference between a kind of fantasy that we want life to be and the reality we create, and they aren’t that far from one another in the end. A world of twisted corporations who can poison humans for profit and it’s just part of how the ‘game’ is played with the big rich boys and their cash flow and business plans, while in the same world a brilliant respected attorney strips naked in a deposition and decides to defeat the corporation that’s paid him so much money to keep their dirty little secrets for many years of his life. His new reality, the one that crashes down around him bringing him to the conclusion that it’s not ok for big money deals to be more important than human lives, he appears to be crazy, becomes a problem, a loose end to be dealt with.

In Clooney’s reality is that he’s the guy who does the problem solver, the loose end tier-upper, at the cost of losing himself in the process. He’s not a flash lawyer with tons of cash. He’s never had a retirement plan other than the failed restaurant he and his brother tried to open. He’s lived from one nasty job to the next covering up the bad deeds of rich criminals and important clients of the law firm he works for seemingly without it affecting him. Until his friend, the guy who strips in the deposition starts to break free from the shackles of the dirty secrets and bad deeds. That’s when Clayton slowly starts to unravel himself, little by little. It’s not a willing kind of unraveling, which is what I like about his character. He resists and seems to want things to just stay safe and the same they way they always have been. His reality needs a swift kick in the pants, but it’s hard to tell as you watch which way he’ll come out in the end.
I like the big idea of the story. I like the movie. I loved Wilkinson. I enjoyed Clooney more than I ever have before. The more I think about it the more I like it. That’s why it gets an 8 on the old 1-10 scale.

Audio & Video: (By Ascully): 6/10
I wasn’t that impressed by the Blu-Ray edition of Michael Clayton, I don’t know if it’s the way its shot with lots of dark gloomy scenes and mostly interior shots, but it didn’t look much different to the DVD release, Blacks were certainly blacker but that’s about all I noticed. The soundtrack was also underwhelming with much of the score mixed so far in the background you forget its there, dialog was crisp and clear and up center where its needed but overall this isn’t a showcase for the new format.

Value: 5/10
I am not inclined to own this particular movie. I really liked it, but it’s not something I will watch again or encourage guests to watch when the come over to visit. It’s a hard line between wanting to own and just renting a DVD, and Clayton has crossed it. If you are a purchaser, get the standard DVD version. It’s only like 19 bucks. The BluRay version is almost 30…bah. It’s not a high def kind of flick unless you are the type who, you know, requires high definition Clooney. I would totally recommend that you rent this one though. It’s an excellent movie, just not a must-have DVD.

Overall Score 8/10