Saturday, October 13, 2007


2008 Best Supporting Actress


George Clooney: Michael Clayton, so-called "fixer" at the law firm of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen LLP
Sydney Pollack: his boss Senior Partner Marty Bach
Tom Wilkinson: Michael’s long-time friend, the firm’s top litigator Arthur Edens
Tilda Swinton: Karen Crowder, Chief Legal Counsel with U/North Chemicals
Merritt Wever: Anna, one of the defendants

I suspect the reason some movies are so confusing is to keep you in your seat long enough for you to figure out what is going on, otherwise you might get up and leave. That’s what crossed my mind as I sat through this rather long telling of one more instance of corporate malfeasance.

Probably those who have been called to the bar will be drawn to this cinematic version of Court TV but for many it will prove to be a bit too much: too much legal jargon, too muddled (especially the sub plot of Clayton’s personal life), too much unsaid.

Which is a shame because the acting is top notch (Clooney’s best effort in years), the cinemaphotography is first rate, the musical score right on and the stand taken by Edens is refreshing.

for language, including some sexual dialogue.

Being familiar with the following legal terms will be useful in understanding what transpires:

BRIEF: A written document that outlines a party's legal arguments in a case.

CLASS ACTION SUIT: A lawsuit in which one or more parties file a complaint on behalf of themselves and all other people who are "similarly situated" (suffering from the same problem). Often used when a large number of people have comparable claims.

COMPENSATORY DAMAGES: Money awarded to reimburse actual costs, such as medical bills and lost wages. Also awarded for things that are harder to measure, such as pain and suffering.

DAMAGES: The financial compensation awarded to someone who suffered an injury or was harmed by someone else's wrongful act.

DEPOSITION: Part of the pre-trial discovery (fact-finding) process in which a witness testifies under oath. A deposition is held out of court with no judge present, but the answers often can be used as evidence in the trial.

DISCOVERY: Part of the pre-trial litigation process during which each party requests relevant information and documents from the other side in an attempt to "discover" pertinent facts.

LLP: Limited Liability Partnership is a corporate enterprise that gives the benefits of limited liability to the principals but allows its members the flexibility of organising their internal structure as a traditional partnership.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES: Money awarded to a victim that is intended to punish a defendant and stop the person or business from repeating the type of conduct that caused an injury. Also intended to deter others from similar conduct.

RETAINER: Refers to the up front payment a client gives a lawyer to accept a case. The client is paying to "retain" the lawyer's services.

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