honestly forgot this movie existed. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy, the man who’d rather you consider him the screenwriter of the Bourne movies instead of the brains behind The Cutting Edge, Michael Clayton seems like it should be a year-end prestige release. So what’s it doing opening in late September?

How about killing off Soderbergh’s and Clooney’s Section Eight deal at Warner Brothers? Once Michael Clayton is off the books, all that remains is The Argentine, Soderbergh’s Che Guevara biopic starring Benicio Del Toro. After that, the boys are on their own, which means Clooney will no longer be forced to star in a ponderously anti-cinematic exercise once a year.

It’s important to note that, as far as we know, the end of Section Eight was not acrimonious; from what I hear, Clooney and Soderbergh are still friendly, and may very well work together again in the future. In the meantime, there’s Michael Clayton, the directorial debut of A-List screenwriter Gilroy, which would probably look and sound like a ho-hum legal thriller were it not for the involvement of Tom Wilkinson. The whole production smacks of a liberal do-gooder effort along the lines of The Interpreter (wonder if Clayton’s a divorcee), but when I see names like Anthony Minghella and Tilda Swinton in the credits, I tend to get interested.

This isn’t the most exciting trailer you’ll ever see, but it does the trick. If Michael Clayton receives a Toronto berth, it might be something; if it skips the September fests altogether, it’s just product.