Monday, February 4, 2008

Michael Claytonvitch

Yesterday my wife and I went to see Michael Clayton. We had missed it when it came out because it just didnt look very interesting when we saw the trailer. However, now that it got the Oscar nod we, who had seen the other four films nominated for best picture, dutifully went down to the cineplex and found seats in the crowded theater. Usually crowded theaters are a drag, civilization being in rapid decline has liberated the inner slob in most people, but this crowd looked like middle-aged people who were seeing this movie because they'd seen the other four and were filling out the set, just like us. Also like us, they are as likely to want to text-message their friends in the middle of the movie as they are to stand up and loudly sing the Swedish national anthem so we were able to watch this film without having to filter out annoying white noise from our fellow humans.
So I sat back and watched a pallid remake of every left-wing 'Big Business Is Bad' potboiler that I've seen for the last century or so. You see, it seems that this BIIIIIIG agricultural chemical company (aka Archer Daniel Midlands) is so blind to its long-term interests and so morally bankrupt that it markets a weed-killer even after it gets a research report saying that it's toxic to humans. This is where I part company with my liberal friends, they all believe that things like this happen all the time, I say name one time. You cant, because it has literally never happened. Things happen like in Erin Brockavitch, where companies try to cover up for their incompetence and negligence but that is a huge distance morally from going out and consciously killing people. Its also unbelievable because no company wants to expose themselves to billion dollar class action lawsuits.
Now in Michael Clayton the lead lawyer for the firm defending a company from just such a class-action lawsuit finds the incriminating report after six years of working on the case and promptly goes insane. He is then murdered by the Evil Argibusiness. Ah, but our proletarian hero is onto their sneaking capitalist tricks, causing them to put a bomb in his car (very subtle, a big-time lawyer gets blown-up in his car-- Film At Eleven! These putzes really are sharp operators.) which he escapes in such a clever way that even though there are no pieces of flesh in the exploded car everyone thinks he's dead. So he then pops up to confront Tilda Swindon, Chief Counsel of EvilChem (who must have done her acting prep in a lab filled with terrified rats, so timorous, conniving and trembly is she) in such a way that she spills the beans into Michael's cleverly concealed microphone. The po-po pop out and justice is served! George Clooney comes across as the Earnest Revolutionary, like in those Maoist films they made during the Cultural Revolution. He has human failings, sure, but when the chips are down he's a man of the people.
The sickening thing is that this par-boiled agitprop has more than a good shot at winning best picture. The other four movies are infinitely better. 'There Will Be Blood' is every bit as offensively left-wing in concept but is not so openly propagandistic. The politicized Hollywood community loves turkeys like 'Erin Brockavitch' or 'Crash' and has shown again and again that it will reward suitably ideologically correct movies with the Best Picture Oscar. We'll see.


Frank Gerratana said...

The fictional company, United Northfield, is probably more closely based on Monsanto, which has been a party to a number of lawsuits and settlements concerning similar subject matter. Of course, whether or not the company is responsible for any actual harm is a matter of one's perspective.

skep41 said...

Lawsuits that allege that Monsanto knowingly marketed a toxic product? One which led to the death of hundreds of people? The movie was a caricature. Responsibility for a negligent decision or for marketing a product that later was found to be harmful is different than the kind of evil in the film. The movie assumes that business people are completely ruthless.