Michael Clayton/American Gangster

I guess I can review both of these flicks at the same time because I liked em both a decent amount-- but they suffered from similar issues. But if you don't feel like reading all this babble I'm about to write and are looking to see only one.... I'd pick Michael Clayton.

But first off, nice terrible title. 'Michael Clayton'? It's not only a name. It's a boring name! (No offense to people named Michael Clayton) But couldn't they think of anything but the dude's stupid name? Just gimme a Grishamy name and call it a day! The Document. There's your stupid title! Now pay me! The marketing of this movie was almost like they went after the 'boring' demographic. But there I was, ready to be bored, watching George Cloongey wander around the screen "acting" tired and beaten. I scrunched down in my seat and forcefully forced my brain to start paying attention to what people were saying. I heard my rusty listening machine turn on and start processing the words. And surprisingly, I actually liked what I was hearing. This movie is smarter than it seems at first glance (but dumber than how smarty pants smart it swears it is). There's something sleazily fun about the whole charade. But what you have with this flick is really just a high-end Grisham story told cleany and slathered in Oscar bait. (Especially Tilda Swinton who is really great in this. Watch her win Best Supporting Actress).

American Gangster I saw last night and I ended up liking this movie less than I thought I would. For some reason I was expecting something truly great from this flick but when it realllllly comes down to it this flick is just friggin New Jack City 2 told cleanly and slathered in Oscar bait. And I didn't think the acting was as strong in this flick compared to Clayton. Denzel Jefferson (who I really like) never really hit home for me dead-center. Almost like he was buzzed on scotch the whole time and off in his own world. I guess that's what he might have been going for-- but it got sort of one-note after a while. And I thought Rusty Crowe gave his weakest performance in a long time. His character but he never clicked over 100% into the guy he was playing. He was still like 15% Rusty the whole time-- which is rare for that dude who is awesome at hiding the real-life cock that he is. But I dug a nice healthy chunk of this flick. The big drug deal was an amazing criminal plan. And the 'based on a true story' thing carried weight throughout blah blah...

But all in all both of these movies disappoint on some semi-tangible level. Clayton doesn't have enough oomph. And Gangster lacks blood and fire power. Or something? Although I dug the clicky progression of storylines coming together-- everything was moving a noticeable fraction too slow. I kept waiting for them to catch up to where I was waiting-- and pass me by-- looping something around my leg and dragging me with them down the street to my dismay. But they seemed relentless in their ability to not break pace. To not really shake things up. To stick to the story and get from A to B with no real distractions. No jokes. No fancy directorial tricks. Just lumping the well-told story on big star shoulders-- and shoving them out onto the screen. Which isn't really a bad thing- but in my heart, I felt both these flicks were vaguely teetering on Boresville, USA-- and it took actual effort on my part to prevent that from happening.

Three Good Things About this Movie

- They both made me feel pride for honesty.
- I dug the professional sleaze crossing over into real-life sleaze.
- I did respect how both flicks stuck to their guns to not become something they didn't want to be.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- There wasn't one scene in particular that I thought was stand-out awesome.
- Both ran a little long.
- Drab and flab. Not enough fab.

All in all, both these flicks are worth seeing but if you're gonna see one-- surprisingly I got a bigger kick out of Clayton. It's much less boring than they've been promoting which is a nice surprise. I guess maybe American Gangster goes the other way in that regard. But when it comes down to it with both these flicks, they're both totally been-there-done-that in terms of storyline-- but they distract us from that by wearing a smart looking suit and pacing back and forth convincingly lecturing us about this has never been done better.