Posted in Film, Writing

Watching Like a Writer: George Clooney

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He’s an Oscar-winning and well-respected actor, writer, and director. He’s been called the Sexiest Man Alive. He played Batman! He’s also been in some great, great films. Let’s look back at the best of George Clooney’s career…

5. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

The first of Steven Soderbergh’s popular trilogy is easily the best, featuring the large cast, including Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, all banding together to rob three Las Vegas casinos. He’s at his most charming here, especially when bickering with Julia Roberts in scenes that bring to mind old school romantic pairings like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Although the sequels suffered with over-plotting and silly sub-plots, this one is lean, mean, and lots of fun.

4. Out of Sight (1998)

Clooney’s first professional visit with the versatile Steven Soderbergh was great entertainment back in Summer 1998 and has evolved into a modern classic today. The film features a dynamic cast, including Luiz Guzman, Catherine Keener, a truly bizarre Albert Brooks, and Jennifer Lopez, who hasn’t since been so sexy and mesmerizing on the screen. The film was also interesting in that Michael Keaton reprised his role as Ray Nicolette from Jackie Brown in a small cameo, even though Jackie Brown was a Miramax release, not a Universal release like this one.

3. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

It was his first major release after his E.R. fame, and it’s still his most entertainingly raw performance, one of his few villain roles in a movie written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The film is split into two halves — the first being an action drama in the tone of Pulp Fiction, and the second being a horror creature feature in the tone of, well, something completely different. Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, and Tarantino himself co-star in one of the great cheesy entertainments of 1996.

2. Up in the Air (2009)

Jason Reitman’s film is so effortless that repeat viewings don’t even begin to weight down its charms. This is not the greatest Clooney performance, but it is definitely his most likable one. He’s goofy, charming, sexy, and vulnerable, and the journey his character goes through is a memorable one. Featuring Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick in Oscar-nominated supporting roles, Up in the Air is a moving piece of work.

1. Gravity (2013)

Although this film belongs to Sandra Bullock, nominated for an Oscar for her turn in Alfonso Cauron’s awe-inspiring space film, Clooney is equally impressive in his brief but essential supporting role. His sweet, self-mocking personality makes the awesome spectacle more easily accessible in the beginning, and his chemistry with Bullock is natural throughout the brief running time they share together. The role of Matt is pivotal to the success of the movie, and no one could have inhabited this role better than Clooney

Watching Like a Writer

In Gravity, Matt is a jokester, giving the film its only sources of comic relief when he tells humorous stories from his past, right before the first wave of satellite debris hits the station. With so much action and intensity throughout, Gravity might have been too much of a downer without at least some comedy woven into the narrative, and Clooney provides just the right number of laughs in a few key moments to give the audience a much needed relief from the tension. His role in Gravity makes me think about how I add humor in my most dramatic and suspenseful fiction, and it is often through a supporting character. In something super intense, your reader needs the occasional relief from all that tension, and a great way to deliver humor is through at least one of your supporting characters.

Exercise!

Look at your WIP. Could one of your supporting characters add more humor to the narrative? Why or why not?

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