Sunday, December 13, 2009

Up in the Air - Movie Review

Up in the Air (R) 109 minutes A
Head in the clouds

Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Tamala Jones and Chris Lowell

Up in the Air is Jason Reitman's third feature film, and although I loved his first two- Thank You for Smoking and Juno, I think that Up in the Air (an adaptation of the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn) trumps them both!

Rarely have I seen George Clooney this memorizing and charismatic on screen. His character, Ryan Bingham is believable and likable despite having a job that requires him to fire and layoff employees (in a down economy) for companies who are downsizing… he’s what you’d call a “Career Transition Counselor’’ or “Terminator”.

Bingham is the ultimate loner who travels 322 days a year and likes it that way. He’s found solace in the preferential first class treatment he receives as an elite traveler and frequent flyer; hassle free and members-only perks at the finest hotels, rental car counters and airports. No wife, no kids, no responsibilities... no problems.

But life comes at you fast... First, Bingham meets a woman named Alex (Vera Farmiga) who is essentially the female version of himself. Then his firm hires a young whipper snapper named Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who proposes to cut the travel budget by 85% and in effect ruin the only thing that truly makes him happy- being up in the air. After all, he believes “to stop moving is to stop living”.

The film is a nice blend of romance, drama, comedy and real life. The performances are top notch and there’s no way this review will convey how brilliant this film is from a directing, acting and cinematic standpoint.

With the awards season among us I encourage you to believe the hype surrounding Up in the Air. It’s easily one of the best films of the year!
Bonus DVD Review

Changeling (R) 140 minutes B-
Mom vs the LAPD

DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Colm Feore, Amy Ryan and Michael Kelly.

Previous to this one, the last three Clint Eastwood directed films I saw were Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River, three excellent films! During that time frame he also directed Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Father (both in 2006).

At my age Eastwood might be best known for his directing rather than his acting (which is still strong), and although Changeling is not in the same league as the aforementioned films it’s still penetrating work.

Set in 1928, the film aims for a classic cinematic feel that rivals historic Hollywood. But the results are mixed due to some mediocre child acting and contrived scenes that try to hard to be sentimental.

Yet overall it’s a film worth seeing because Clint Eastwood is a pro at weaving a genuine grit into his films, plus the fact that it’s based on true events which adds an element of intrigue.

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