Michael Clayton (film)
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The Truth Can Be Adjusted
Michael Clayton is a 2007 film in which the titular character, a "fixer" at a major law firm, has to cope with a colleague's apparent mental breakdown and the mystery surrounding a class-action lawsuit.
- Written and directed by Tony Gilroy.
- You're so fucked. Here, let me get a picture while I'm at it.
- Do I look like I'm negotiating?
- I'm not the guy you kill, I'm the guy you buy! Are you so fucking blind that you don't even see what I am? I sold out Arthur for eighty grand and a three year contract. I'm the easiest part of your problem and you're gonna kill me?
- You're my meal ticket, Marty. If you leave, it's just me and Barry in a room and I'm trying to explain what the hell it is I do around here.
- Michael. Dear Michael. Of course it's you, who else could they send, who else could be trusted? I... I know it's a long way and you're ready to go to work... all I'm saying is just wait, just... just wait and please just hear me out because this is not an episode, relapse, fuck-up, it's... I'm begging you Michael. I'm begging you. Try to make believe this is not just madness because this is not just madness. Two weeks ago I came out of the building, okay? I'm running across Sixth Avenue, there's a car waiting, I've got exactly thirty-eight minutes to get to the airport and I'm dictating. There's this panicked associate sprinting along beside me, scribbling in a notepad, and suddenly she starts screaming, and I realize we're standing in the middle of the street, the light's changed, there's this wall of traffic - serious traffic - speeding towards us, and I ... I freeze, I can't move, and I'm suddenly consumed with the overwhelming sensation that I'm covered in some sort of film. It's in my hair, my face ... it's like a glaze... a coating, and... at first I thought, oh my god, I know what this is, this is some sort of amniotic - embryonic - fluid. I'm drenched in afterbirth, I've breached the chrysalis, I've been reborn. But then the traffic, the stampede, the cars, the trucks, the horns, the screaming and I'm thinking no-no-no, reset, this is not rebirth, this is some kind of giddy illusion of renewal that happens in the final moment before death. And then I realize no-no-no, this is completely wrong because I look back at the building and I had the most stunning moment of clarity. I... I... I realized Michael, that I had emerged not from the doors of Kenner, Bach, and Ledeen, not through the portals of our vast and powerful law firm, but from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the... the... the poison, the ammo, the defoliant necessary for other, larger, more powerful organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity. And that I had been coated in this patina of shit for the best part of my life. The stench of it and the sting of it would in all likelihood take the rest of my life to undo. And you know what I did? I took a deep cleansing breath and I put that notion aside. I tabled it. I said to myself as clear as this may be, as potent a feeling as this is, as true a thing as I believe I witnessed today, it must wait. It must stand the test of time, and Michael, the time is now.
- Opening Lines
- Yes! Here we are, all together. Is everyone listening? 'Cause this is the moment you've been waiting for, a very special piece of paper, so let's have a big, paranoid, malignant round of applause... for United Northfield Culcitate Internal Research Memorandum #229! "June 19th, 1991. Conclusion: The unanticipated marketing growth for Culcitate by small farms in colder climate demands IMMEDIATE cost-benefit analysis." Hah. Would you like a little bit of legal advice? NEVER let a scientist use the words "unanticipated" and "immediate" in the same sentence. Okay? Okay. "In-house field studies have indicated small, short-season farms dependent on well water for human consumption are at risk for toxic particulate concentrations at levels significant enough to cause serious human tissue damage." Well, this is a long way of saying that you don't even have to leave your house to be killed by our product, we'll pipe it into your kitchen sink. "Culcitate's great market advantage that it is tasteless, colorless, and does not precipitate, has the potential to mask and intensify these potentially lethal exposures." Now, I love this. Not only is this a great product, it is a superb cancer delivery system. "Chemical modifications of Culcitate product, the addition of a detector molecule such as an odorant or a colorant, would require a top-down redesign of the Culcitate-manufacturing process. These costs, while assumed to be significant, were not summarized here." Which, loosely translated, means "It's going to cost a fortune to go back on this, and I'm just an asshole in a lab, so could someone else PLEASE make the decision?" "CLEARLY, the release of these internal research documents would compromise the effective marketing of Culcitate, and MUST be kept within the protective confines of United Northfield's trade secret language." You don't need me... to tell you what that means. Goodbye!
- Make Believe It's Not Just Madness
- Note left on the wall
- I could sit here and tear off my fuckin' skin and I could not get down to where this thing is living.
- Michael Clayton: You need to think this through, I will help you think this through- I'll find somebody to help you think this through. Don't do this. You're making it easy for them.
- Arthur Edens: Michael, I have great affection for you. And you lead a rich and interesting life, but you're a bag-man not an attorney. If you wanted to lock me up you should have kept me in Wisconsin, where claims and evidence of my inappropriate behavior would have had jurisdictional relevance. I have no criminal record in the state of New York. And the single defining criterion for involuntary incarceration is danger. Is the defendant a danger to himself or others. You think you got the horses for that? Well, good luck and God bless, but I tell you this... the last place you want to see me is in court.
- Michael Clayton: I'm not the enemy.
- Arthur Edens: Then who are you?
- Michael Clayton: You are the senior litigating partner of one of the largest, most respected law firms in the world. You are a legend.
- Arthur Edens: I'm an accomplice!
- Michael Clayton: You're a manic-depressive!
- Arthur Edens: I am Shiva, the god of death.
- Karen Crowder: You don't want the money?
- Michael Clayton: Keep the money. You'll need it.
- Don Jefferies: Is this fellow bothering you?
- Michael Clayton: Am I bothering you?
- Don Jefferies: Karen, I've got a board waiting in there. What the hell's going on? Who are you?
- Michael Clayton: I'm Shiva, the God of death.
- Marty Bach: Marty Bach, how can I help you?
- Bridget Klein: Marty, hi. It's Bridget Klein. Look, we're going with a story tomorrow about a settlement in the U/North defoliant case. You wanna comment?
- Marty Bach: Case you're referring to is now, as it has been for the past six years, pending and unresolved. Till such time as our client has their day in court or the plaintiffs come to their senses and drop the suit, I'll have nothing of value to tell you.
- Bridget Klein: Come on, Marty, you're closing the U/North case. You're settling. I know that, okay? I know you're up there with, like, 600 people jamming this thing through.
- Marty Bach: Yeah, here's what I know: your deadline was twenty minutes ago, so you're either fishing for a story or trying to get out of writing a retraction. In either case, I wish you the best of luck.
- Michael Clayton: Cops like hit-and-runs. They work 'em hard, they clear 'em fast. Right now there's a BCI unit picking paint chips off a guard rail. Tomorrow they're gonna be looking for the owner of a custom painted, hand rubbed Jaguar XJ12. The guy you hit? If he got a look at the plates, it won't even take that long. There's no play here. There's no angle, there's no champagne room. I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a janitor. The math on this is simple; the smaller the mess, the easier it is for me to clean up.
- [Phone rings]
- Client: That's the police, isn't it?
- Michael Clayton: No. They don't call.