Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Up, Up In The Air

Can I tell you just how completely and utterly over the moon I was that Up In The Air was showing here in Vancouver only a week after it’s official limited release opening last week. I thought I was going to have to wait until Christmas to see this movie. There is a strong chance I may see it again. It was that fricking good. Srsly. One of the best movies I have seen all year. Amazing on so many levels.

It tells the story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer and consummate modern business traveler who, after years of staying happily airborne, suddenly finds himself ready to make “a real connection.” Ryan has long been contented with his unencumbered lifestyle lived out across America in airports, hotels and rental cars. He can carry all he needs in one wheel-away case; he's a pampered, elite member of every travel loyalty program in existence; and he's close to attaining his lifetime goal of 10 million frequent flier miles - and yet . . . Ryan has nothing real to hold onto.

When he falls for a likeminded fellow traveler (Vera Farmiga), Ryan's boss (Jason Bateman), inspired by a young, upstart efficiency expert (Anna Kendrick), threatens to permanently call him in from the road. Faced with the prospect, at once terrifying and exhilarating, of being grounded, Ryan begins to contemplate what it might actually mean to have a home.

Jason Reitman has made 2 fantastic films over the last few years – Juno and Thank You For Smoking. Up in the Air is probably my favourite of the three. It is not as glib as Juno – while the dialogue is smart and well thought out – it is not littered with a myriad of pop culture references – likely due to the absence of the fantastic Diablo Cody. That is not to say the script isn’t fantastic. So much of Anna Kendrick’s dialogue was gold – her interactions with George Clooney will go down as some of my favourite scenes in a movie all year. Honest, smart witty dialogue is so rare in movies. And this was all that and so much more.

I am so impressed with the performance given by Anna Kendrick. While my friend Kent distracted me by pointing out her odd eyebrow shaping – I was able to look past that (he couldn’t) and appreciate that she held her own against Hollyweird superstar George Clooney – and did an amazing job. Her portrayal of the high strung, aptly named Natalie Keener was revelatory to me. And the fact that Reitman wrote the part with her in mind is a big deal. She ain’t in Forks, dealing with the Vampires of Twilight anymore. Anna Kendrick has surpassed all the other bit players in that franchise with one poorly packed suitcase. She was effing fantastic.

George Clooney has shown again why he is. He is George Clooney mother f*cker. 2 time People Magazine’s sexiest man alive, confident, charming, charismatic, relatable in spite of his jaw dropping good looks. Bingham is a flawed human being, but Clooney makes him likable and endearing. Vera Farmiga was also very good, but her role was not quite as meaty as either of the other 2 leads. She’s very very pretty as well – and does not have distracting eyebrows.

Jason Batemen – in spite of the horrible hair style that aged him about 15 years – was also solid, as were the other minor roles. I very much enjoyed Melanie Lynskey and Danny McBride as Clooney’s sister and her fiancé. I have a crush on Lynskey ever since I saw her in Away We Go…. She is an amazing actress. A special mention needs to go out to a number of the “fired employees” who were real life people who had lost their jobs. Reitman found people in St Louis and Detroit who were willing to recreate their dismissals on camera. I have read a few reports of cynics viewing this as Reitman capitalizing on the current economy in the US – I see it as putting a real face to what is going on in the world today. It wasn’t exploitative, it was humanizing.

Up In The Air is funny, poignant, and smart without being condescending to the audience. Without question, one of my top movies of the year. And it was nominated for a slew of Golden Globes this morning. The only question I have is why it was in the drama category? Yes it was dramatic in parts, but for the audience at the screening I saw it was most definitely more comedic than dramatic. I wonder if the production company gets to decide?

Golden Globes in about a month! Squeee. Contemplating a wee soiree. We shall see if it pans out. Especially as I have 2 chairs that people can actually sit in….Maybe.

In the meantime ---> see Up In the Air. It is Awesomeness wrapped up in amazingness, surrounded by a fluffy cloud of fabulosity.


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