This week my Missus and I hit the discount Tuesday night at our local mega-plex cinema. It’s a five dollar ticket. That’s a pretty nice price for new releases. (A few weeks back we caught Sherlock Holmes, which I thought was a great time…who knew R. Downey Jr. could still act well? … plus, all those over the top effects looked sweet on the big screen!)
At any rate, we decided to check out Up in the Air. This is the new Jason Reitman (Juno, and Thank You for Smoking [which I haven’t seen either of!]) vehicle. This one stars George Clooney and features Jason Bateman. It’s the film adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel (from 2001) of the same name.
It seems that this film has suffered from some early branding as a romantic comedy…which it most certainly is NOT. Now, it’s trying to be re-cast as something other than a “rom-com.” I hope it succeeds, because it was brilliant.
I must admit, my interest in this was really piqued when I read a stunningly good review in the commie newspaper I read (which is now, sadly, all on line…but still good). The last film I read a sweet review of in there and watched was The Badder Meinhof Complex, which was amazing (I posted a blog about that film a little while back). They have a good track record of pointing me in the right direction. I also heard an interview with Kirn on NPR about the adaptation of the novel to a film. He said it was NOTHING like the book, but that he liked it a lot and that it was very good. All of this…plus Clooney. YES!
In short, SEE THIS MOVIE. It’s quite well done and it looks way better than I expected. There are some beautiful shots that illustrate the modernist architecture of many airports in the US. (Interestingly, the modernatity of design is well balanced with the scattered diasporatic nature of the postmodern really well here, both visually and thematically. Sound pretentious and wankerish enough for you there? Sorry…but it’s true!) This film also serves as a pretty interesting analysis of contemporary capitalism, but not in some overly heavyhanded way. It shows the elements, and then backs away.
The larger context of the film is about connection and interaction. I think the play of that element juxtaposed with the larger economic realities of the film (what Clooney’s character does for a living, for instance) is quite interesting.
Aside from being good to look at and interesting in a thematic way, the acting in this film is VERY good. Clooney, who is a fantastic actor – even when he’s not working with the Coen Brothers now!- is brilliant. I hate that there is some element of his characterization that I don’t despise, but that speaks to the textured complexity of the film. In a more characteristic portrayal i wouldn’t have any trouble just hating the Ryan Bingham character that Clooney plays so well. I think some of the most brilliant moments are when there is no dialogue and Clooney is either still, looking at some element of an airport, or when he is simply acting naturally and having fun at his sister’s wedding.
Likewise, the performance by Anna Kendrick is really well done. She acts how someone like her character would act. It’s refreshing to see that in a movie! It’s a subtle ability, to have a way of mannerism that so closely resembles the person – or personality- that the actor is attempting to illustrate. Kendrick does this really well. Her character also experiences an interesting evolution that I was not expecting.
Finally…Bateman. This dude brought his A – game. I was blown away by his performance as the hilariously named Craig Gregory. He plays a smarmy boss and is believable, not over the top or characteristic. Perhaps the upsetting thing is that it’s NOT a stretch, a surprise or creepy to see this kind of character be the boss. It’s pretty gross, but it’s supposed to be. It works.
I saw this film on Tuesday, it’s Friday and I’m still thinking about it quite a bit. It was well done and well worth your time.