I don’t know if I could have come up with a weirder, more ill-matched pair of movies than Chuck & Buck and Michael Clayton. Oh wait, they do have something in common—they both have names in their titles, they’re both movies, and they’re both about not giving up hope and following your dream (okay, maybe not...or maybe yes?).
Chuck & Buck is easily one of the most terrifying movies I’ve ever seen. Chuck and Buck were best friends. Chuck grew up into Charlie, a rich executive in the music business in LA, with a pretty fiancée and a big house. Buck didn’t really grow up and wants to reconnect with Chuck and get things back to the way they were.
That’s the simple version of the story—what makes it more complicated is that as much as Charlie is annoyed and embarrassed by Buck, he also can’t quite tell him to go away completely because maybe he’s not quite as ready to move on as it seems. It’s all resolved in a way that at first is somewhat creepy and questionable, but after I thought about it, maybe it was the only way that made sense.
What I found so scary about this movie was the way that Buck is so weird and desperate and needy but at the same time completely resolute and determined. I had a terrible feeling throughout most of the first part of the movie that something awful was going to happen, and maybe it did, or maybe it didn’t. I guess the other part that I found personally upsetting was just seeing a character who is one of those left behind and left out and alone, because I always fear that happening to me. I guess it shouldn’t be any surprise, though, that he finds some kind of salvation in the theater world, always the last refuge for outcasts and cowards.
Whew. Now for something completely different, or in this case, something more traditional. However, calling Michael Clayton traditional isn’t an insult, because even the oldest idea, if done well, can be a great movie.
There’s been a zillion corporate intrigue movies, but this one was put together in a way that kept me involved throughout. I could guess the general outline of the story, but it wasn’t like I found myself guessing ahead. All the characters were believable and all the actors did great work; I loved how, aside from the big name stars, the cast was filled with theater people, respected, constantly working actors, who stood in with only one scene or even one line. When you see that, you know it’s going to be a good movie if those kind of people wanted to be involved.
But an actor’s life is always made a lot easier when you have a good script, and this one is as solid as it gets, structured in a neat way that always gives away enough but not too much. I appreciated the way it didn’t have a lot of extraneous junk. Most movies of this type wouldn’t be able to stand not having a love story or romance to go along with the main plot, but this one didn’t, and we should all be grateful for that.
This is an impressive movie. Is it groundbreaking, epic or daring? No, but when so many movies go for flash and fireworks, it’s really enjoyable to see something that is effective because of its quiet and simplicity.