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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

May 6, 2009 at 2:01 PM

Some song and dance, for George Clooney’s birthday

Though George Clooney didn’t remember my birthday this year, I still think his is worthy of comment: The actor (an Oscar winner for “Syriana”), director, activist and all-around charmer turns 48 today. If anyone’s interested in a good long read today, this New Yorker article from last year gives, I think, a thoughtful examination of the art of Being George Clooney:

Clooney is America’s national flirt, a pitchman on talk shows and red carpets who, against the background hum of the world’s lust and envy, is lightly ironic, clever, and self-deprecating, with furrowed brow and bobbing head, and a gyration in the lower jaw suggesting something being moved around under his tongue. This busy charm–a man on his way out to a party, feeling pretty good about his hair–was profitably packaged in “Ocean’s Eleven” and its two sequels, films that, more than anything, seemed to be oblique views of the A-list esprit de corps, real or imagined, that went into making them; they were fictions yearning to be “making of” documentaries. (Together, they earned more than a billion dollars.) And that charm was largely withheld, to effect, in the downbeat roles that Clooney took in “Syriana” and “Michael Clayton.”

We’ll likely see that charm back in Clooney’s next few projects — he’ll be onscreen in a couple of comedies late this year (Grant Heslov’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats” and Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air”) and will be heard in Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation comedy “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” But here’s a look back at one of my favorite Clooney performances, as the goofy Everett (“We’re in a tight spot!”) in the Coen brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou.” (The dancing’s all him; the singing’s dubbed.) What’s your favorite Clooney role?

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