Good Night and Good Luck 2005 Directed by George Clooney. The conflict between veteran radio and television journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (footage-as himself) and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Powerful and incisive with a sterling ensemble. The black and white feature intercuts original newsreel but has the sense not to muck around with it. A peon to integrity. Look up the word.
Also with, in part, George Clooney, Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels, Tate Donovan. “I thought it was a good time to raise the idea of using fear to stifle political debate.” (George Clooney) Rent on Amazon Prime.
Michael Clayton 2007 Directed by Tony Gilroy. A taut, convoluted legal thriller. Lawyer Michael Clayton (George Clooney), a “fixer” for a prestigious New York firm, is asked to shield a client involved in a hit and run. An attempted assassination follows. A colleague seems to have a mental breakdown and a major client is being sued over toxic chemicals. How do these seemingly disparate things relate? With Tilda Swinton (Best Supporting Actress Academy Award), Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, Michael O’Keefe, Ken Howard. One of the great “gotcha” scenes. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Up in the Air 2009 Based on the novel by Walter Kirn. Directed by Jason Reitman. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) works for a personnel resources company that specializes in downsizing, i.e. he travels around the country conducting company layoffs, trying to make firing people face-to-face seem to them like opportunity. (Painful to watch.) He’s also on the lecture circuit touting lack of possessions and relationships. Bingham passes through his sterile apartment living out of a suitcase. A successful and satisfied man whose main aspiration is to reach ten million frequent flyer miles.
One night in a Midwestern hotel, he meets and beds Alex (Vera Farmiga), who also flies constantly on business. They begin to coordinate schedules and embark on a passionate, bemused affair with no strings. Meanwhile, new young hire, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), starts to travel with Bingham. The company is leaning towards her idea of firing people by video conferencing, effectively eliminating his travel. She needs to observe methods and outcomes firsthand. Keener believes in love, Bingham does not – still, he’s increasingly draw to expanding his relationship with Alex. Reality bites. The ending is bittersweet. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Descendants 2011 Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Directed by Alexander Payne. Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award. A family story played realistically in unfamiliar context. Honolulu-based attorney Matthew “Matt” King (George Clooney) is also the head of a family land trust relatives are pressuring him to divest. While his wife Elizabeth (Patti Hastie) is comatose in a hospital, he learns she had been having a long term affair. Matt knows he hadn’t been the best husband, but this is a shock. He juggles her state, betrayal by friends, the question of forgiveness, adjustment of his two children (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) and feuding relatives. Free with HBO Trial or rent on Amazon Prime.
Gravity 2013 directed by Alfonso Cuarón. As visual as it is psychologically strong. To the credit of George Clooney, Sandra Bullock and the director, the former never swallows the latter. Two astronauts are stranded in space outside their rocket ship. We hear what they say and think. It’s clear one must sacrifice himself to allow for the possibility the other might make it to a space station, then home. Be in the mood to drift, not a lot externally happens. Ten Academy Award nominations, winning seven. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Monuments Men 2014 Loosely based on The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter. Well produced and well acted by a fine ensemble cast including, in part, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett. Directed by George Clooney.
During WWII, convinced of the necessity to save art and artifacts from Nazi pillage, President Roosevelt established The Monuments Men, a group comprised of museum directors, curators, art historians, and an architect, who searched for and returned stolen art. None of these men were soldiers, yet they ventured into occupied territory dealing with danger, betrayal, greed, and fear, ferreting out hiding places with the ingenuity of Indiana Jones, trying to get there before Germans trafficked the items or the Russian Army conscripted them (as reparation). Characters are well defined. The story is fascinating. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Midnight Sky 2020 Based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Directed by and starring George Clooney. When an unidentified catastrophe wipes out most of the world’s population, Scientist Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney) is on an Arctic expedition. The rest of the team decides to go home to die with their families, while Lofthouse, fatally ill with a kidney/blood disease, chooses to stay. In flashbacks, we see that he married and had a child, that his wife left him because of his obsession with work.
Suddenly a little girl appears. Lofthouse assumes she’s been left behind by a departed parent. (Not true.) He tries to take care of her though emotionally ill equipped. Signals come in from a spaceship on its way back to earth unaware of the situation. In order to communicate beyond initial contact, Lofthouse and the girl must make a perilous journey. Those on the ship are faced with returning to die or facing the unknown of space. Each makes his/her decision. There’s a somewhat hopeful ending, but the film needs editing and, in the end, seems like an expensive Twilight Zone episode. Free with Netflix.
Ocean’s Eleven 2001, Ocean’s Twelve 2004, Ocean’s Thirteen 2007. All Directed by Stephen Soderbergh. A group of mostly ex-cons under the leadership of Danny Ocean (George Clooney) robs a casino (for revenge) in an immensely clever, well researched fashion. Each subsequent film revolves around a crime and comeuppance. The cast is great fun to watch. In part, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Cahn, Carl Reiner, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts; later, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Eddie Izzard, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino Rent on Amazon Prime.
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