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Saturday Matinée

We saw Erin Brockovich on testosterone Michael Clayton today.

Apparently Saturday afternoon is "pretend it's your living room day" at the cinema. The people sitting next to us chatted all through the ads and trailers (which I don't mind too much, but really ... ) and then, when the film started, continued their conversation.

And it wasn't really in a whisper, it was just a regular chat in normal (albeit not shouting) tones. But, bless them, they were speaking Polish or some other Eastern European language and since we couldn't understand them, evidently they thought we couldn't hear them either.

I find this happens a lot on public transportation as well. And in the staff room at work. But I digress.

Larry shhh-ed our neighbors and told them, with a very non-Canadian directness, to "be quiet, eh."

They giggled, opened another bottle of beer and a Tupperware container of food (which all came from plastic bags on the specially-priced "premium" seat between them and us), and continued to talk.

"Excuse me," I said, incorporating a teacherly hand gesture ... something akin to dunking an invisible swimmer's head in front of me with a downturned palm. "Do you mind?"

"Oh, sorry," the woman said. Apparently she could speak English, even if she hadn't quite mastered the intonation of a believable apology.

They quieted down for about twenty minutes, but then the film (which was slow-paced at best) must have started boring her. I guess she was trying to be polite and not speak anymore because she dug another beer (clink, clink, clink) out of her bag and then popped open her mobile and started texting.

I swear, you try to enjoy a nice matinée in W2 and it's like going to the friggin' trailer park. Last time we were in W2 we saw a woman peeing in the street. Right in front of Tony Blair's house-to-be. I don't think it was a political statement or a marking of her territory (she didn't look a thing like Cherie from behind). From now on in, we stay east of Edgeware Road.

But other than that, Mary Todd, how did you enjoy the show?

Spoilers ahead ...

It was all right, if not perhaps a little drawn out and mildly predictable. If I'd been home watching it on TV I probably would have zoned out, gone to the fridge for a beer and texted people.


Ahem. Right. Anyway.

It had a very convoluted beginning, trying to cram all of Michael Clayton's very complicated life (a high-flying fixer who lives amidst many broken relationships) into ten minutes of jump-cut exposition.

IMDB later informed me that the writer/director (never let first-time directors loose on their own scripts) was from the Bourne family ... which explained a lot.

The main problem with the film is that, ten minutes into it, there's a big explosion which was meant to kill our hero, but he inexplicably parked on the side of the road to channel a horse whisperer and was saved. And then flash back to "Four Days Earlier."

I'm all for a flashback ... but this one too the entire film. And then when we get to where we left off (including an unnecessary -- except for the elderly couple in front of us who thought they were very clever by discussing the deja vu effect -- recapsulation of the events we'd already seen), we have a clever denoument and a "oh lookie, he's going to get his life on track now" moment.

Sadly, we never understand why he got out of the car to look at the horsies, so his entire salvation is based on a HUGE hole in the plot.

George Clooney delivers a strong and subtle performance (not one Tom Cruise jaw clench or unnecessary "look-I'm-shouting-because-I'm-ACTING" moment to be had) and Tilda Swinton was excellent as the corporate shark in way over her head. Tom Wilkinson treads the line between crazy and disenchanted with remarkable effect -- he really is a fine actor. Makes me want to watch In the Bedroom again.

Also remarkable is how good Tilda and Tom's American accents were. There are some London stage actors who should take note.

Julie White had nothing more than a cameo, and I was so hoping she'd actually get to do something besides mutter and throw a glass against a wall.

All in, Michael Clayton is worth a go, if for nothing else than to confirm George Clooney as a solid actor when he's not taking the piss out of himself in films like the Ocean's 11-13 series.