Periscope Depth

I'll take on any man here that says that's not the way it should be

The clauses in this media blow expire in twenty-four hours; take it or leave it.

Michael Clayton: What separates this film from others in the legal thriller genre – and a crowded little genre it’s become – is the focus on characters. You have to be broken in some fundamental way to devote sixty hours a week for five years at a time to a single court case. Tilda Swinton plays a tightly wound corporate attorney who rehearses not only her statements but her pauses and nervous laughter before she speaks to anyone. Tom Wilkinson plays a manic-depressive attorney who flips out during a videotaped deposition. And George Clooney plays the compulsive gambler, the firm’s in-house “fixer,” who’s sent to bring Wilkinson in.

Clooney doesn’t play a lot of low status characters – this one, and maybe his put-upon role in Syriana, are the only two I can think of. He doesn’t break into full-on alpha male mode until the very last scene, and then it’s like a breath of fresh air. Until that time he’s a beleaguered, confused man in his late 40s, swallowing his pride and dealing with petty insults and business swindles from everyone around him. It’s one of his best roles.

The plot itself is nothing to write home about, but the editing and the acting carry this one home.

The Color of Magic: Cute, I guess. I don’t feel compelled to go out and pick up any of the other books in the series, though I don’t suppose I’d pass them up if they tumbled into my lap. Aside from a few original ideas (the color octarine, the notion of dragons as solid figments, etc), there’s nothing here you couldn’t pick up by playing Dungeons and Dragons with some particularly silly people for a few years.