eKC feature
January 4, 2008


Best and Worst of 2007
by Russ Simmons


Michael Clayton
A solidly made and utterly absorbing drama from first time director Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton hits all the right notes as it exposes an ugly side of capitalism. George Clooney (Ocean’s 13) is terrific in the title role, a “fixer” for a big time Manhattan corporate law firm who works behind the scenes in a moral netherworld. His job is to find a way to protect the firm and their clients. No one asks about his means or methods.

Gilroy, the screenwriter of the Bourne movies, has contributed a smart, complex screenplay that crackles with sharp, realistic dialogue. He also gives us some concise background information that helps us understand Michael’s actions.

Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack are standouts in a solid supporting cast. But this movie belongs to Clooney. In a sensational turn of impressive depth, Clooney brings this complex character completely to life…alternately strong and vulnerable, savvy and clueless.

Big is beautiful, and you need look no further than Hairspray for proof. The movie musical has arrived with buoyant bouffants in tow. Rousing, energetic and infectious, this adaptation of the Tony Award-winning show piles the fun as high as a beehive hairdo. It is easily the year’s most entertaining film and supplies a painless message about inclusiveness.

There Will Be Blood
Although it doesn’t officially open until Jan. 18, Paul Thomas Anderson’s chilling adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel Oil was screened in KC in December to qualify for awards consideration. Daniel Day Lewis is superb as a soulless oilman in this combination of Citizen Kane and Giant.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Amazingly, another musical made the list. Brilliantly adapted by director Tim Burton, this hit from the Great White Way stars Johnny Depp as a homicidal barber in 19th century London. The great music, talented performers and sensational art direction help make the grisly subject matter much more palatable.

Ratatouille is a beautifully rendered and intelligent animated offering from Pixar, telling the story of a culinary genius who happens to be a rat. An arthouse cartoon, it raises the bar both in terms of sophisticated storytelling and in visual splendor.

Honorable mention:
No Country for Old Men, Once, Zodiac, Atonement, After the Wedding.


Daddy Day Camp
If there were ever someone in dire need of a new agent, it’s Oscar winner, Cuba Gooding, Jr. What on earth is he thinking? His latest film is a mind-numbingly bad family flick called Daddy Day Camp. A sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 2003 comedy Daddy Day Care, this cheaply and awkwardly made movie is so awful that even Murphy (who made Norbit, for crying out loud) wouldn’t touch it

The Condemned
Whoever decided that World Wrestling Entertainment should get involved in producing movies should be condemned. Stone Cold Steve Austin plays a death row inmate in a Central American prison. He’s given an opportunity to win his freedom by fighting to the death with other prisoners. The onscreen mayhem makes the movie’s so-called “anti-violence” message seem like the penultimate of hypocrisy.

September Dawn
Near the end of this historical drama, a character yells, “Just kill me!” Audience members will want to say the same thing. Jon Voight stars in this amateurish melodrama that purports to the true story of the massacre of settlers by Mormons pioneers.

Pathfinder recreates a period of history with comic book mentality. Unlike 300, it lacks the artistic vision to pull it off gracefully. It tells a fable about the Native Americans’ efforts to rebuff Viking invaders 600 years before Columbus. As author Frank Miller says, “F*** history!”

Bratz: The Movie is a live action comedy inspired by the line of dolls that some groups claim inspire young girls to become pint-sized “hoochie mamas.” The story concerns the high school tribulations of four teens with a “passion for fashion.” It’s loud, annoying and unintentionally offensive.

Dishonorable mention:
Who’s Your Caddy, The Seeker: Dark is Rising, Reno 911: Miami, Because I Said So, Good Luck Chuck.


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