Michael Clayton (dir. Tony Gilroy) 2007

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The story of a giant multi national company and the lawyers who sold their souls to defend them. Let’s get the bad out of the way first, the storyline seems a bit hackneyed now and there are a couple of minor plot holes where you have to work to suspend your disbelief. However, these points aside, this is a most enjoyable film. This movie is a thriller and although we aware right from the start which are the good guys and which are the baddies, we are never quite sure how it will all turn out.

The acting is spectacular. Tilda Swinton won, a well deserved, Oscar for her portrayal of a stressed out legal advisor. George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson were both nominated for theirs. The script is great; sharp, real, and occasionally bruising. The direction is clever and taut, even though it is just under two hours long, there is no let up in the action. It is hard to believe that this is Tony Gilroy’s first film, you wonder how he managed to get a studio to trust him with either the budget or stars. However the trust was justified,  he manages to keep the viewer on edge, even though you can sometimes guess where the plot is going. The ending is quick, clean and satisfying.

This film was on many best of year lists, it was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including best film and best director.  Michael Clayton is a classic example of its genre, definitely worth watching.

Money Monster (dir. Jodie Foster) 2016

George Clooney

Money Monster is a gripping thriller that will keep you entertained for an hour and a half. It is a Hollywood hostage movie set in a New York television studio. It has a big name cast; George Clooney and Julia Roberts are both on top form, as an irritating TV show host and his producer. Jack O’Connell is also excellent as the hostage taker. It is directed by Jodie Foster, who does a good job subverting expectations in a genre that the audience will know well.

The script and character development are fantastic, because although all the main protagonists have flawed personalities, over the course of the film, we are given an insight to their humanity and motivation. This means that we have sympathy with all of them to some degree.

Money Monster is funny, surprising and knowing. It is also nicely subversive from Jodi Foster because all the men in the film are the brash, sensationalist types getting all the attention and the women are the ones who quietly get things done.

Don’t go to this movie expecting insights into the world of financial markets, or the effects of the 24 hour news cycle on society. Go expecting pure light entertainment, for that is what it delivers