Tuesday, February 23, 2010

UP IN THE AIR - Another of Reitman's Gems

UP IN THE AIR (drama)
Cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey and J.K. Simmons
Director: Jason Reitman
Screenplay: Walter Kim & Jason Reitman
Time: 109 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)

LOVERS: Clooney and Farmiga in UP IN THE AIR

PREAMBLE: Can one ever get enough of George Clooney? Well, the Americans seem enamoured of him, especially the critics. Last year, he worked on three critically acclaimed movies - the animated and Fantastic Mr Fox, The Men Who Stare At GoatsUp In The Air. These three entries smacked of Oscar award material but somehow the absurd comedy Men Who Stare At Goats got lost along the way, leaving Fantastic Mr Fox with two nominations (for Best Animated Film and Best Score) and Up In The Air with six, including Best Picture and Best Director.

I don't expect any wins, though.

THE SKINNY: Ryan Bingham's (George Clooney) world is one of airports, chain hotels and loyalty cards. His life as a professional downsizer and motivational speaker keeps him travelling around America enjoying his privileges as a frequent business flier. Charming, slick and truly happy with his unencumbered lifestyle, Ryan revels in his life “up in the air” and one of his goals is not to get married but to get into the coveted 10-million mile flyers' club.

His easy-going lifestyle hits turbulence when he encounters two women. One of them is the sexy but enigmatic Alex (Vera Farmiga), a frequent flyer just like Ryan but "with a vagina". In Alex, Ryan finds someone with whom he might actually start a relationship, even if it is in hotels and airports. The second is Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) a new colleague who comes up with the idea of using teleconference technology to sack people. Determined to prove to her that this is not the way to go, Ryan brings Natalie on the road with him with unexpected results.

HITS & MISSES: Jason Reitman's Up In The Air is a character-driven vehicle, not unlike his 2007 Juno. However, while Juno deals with the perennial problem of teen pregnancy, Up In The Air is topical, dealing with the painful problem of downsizing and retrenchment. Reitman first penned this story back in 2002, but completed the movie last year to ride on the waves of 'global recession'. You can be sure those who have been involved in downsizing are going to relate to this film.

Here, it is not only Clooney who shines as the pathetic protag living out of a suitcase, but also co-stars Farmiga and Kendrick (pic, left) who flesh out their characters so convincingly that we get charmed by them and their ideas. Farmiga strings us along with her casual and carefree Alex while Kendrick's Natalie shows a strong facade hiding a vulnerable and emotional centre. Jason Bateman supports as Ryan's boss while Melanie Lynskey plays his sister.

THE LOWDOWN: Mark this as another of Reitman's gems.


At 4:01 am, Blogger Mooveeqoo said...

Dear Mr. Lim,
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i must say that your movie reviews are what people say to be the quality reviews. no doubt your column was considered as the longest running column in Malaysia.

in relation with that, i would like to ask your permission to include your reviews in our website. with no meaning to make things complicated to you, the method would simply be copying your writings to our website and we will put the credits by posting your name and links. but only if this is ok to you.

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At 6:27 pm, Blogger Arivind Abraham said...

It's after one actually reads the book that one realises the amount of work that must have gone into adapting it. It's not an easy book to translate into a screenplay.

Also, the character was made for Clooney. You read the book and you suddenly see why the part was made for him all along.

What's so great about Reitman, is he's almost making films that one got out of Hollywood back in the glory days of the 70's. Solid films, not trying to be flashy, but just trying to tell good solid stories. All story and performance.

And for that alone he should be lauded.

At 2:09 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Dear Mooveeqoo, Thank you very much for your offer. However, I don't think your proposal will work for me. Cheers and all the best in your endeavours.

Hi Arivind, I haven't read the book but I fully appreciate Clooney's performance. Indeed, the role must have been written with him in mind. And it is a direct opposite to his character in MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. Did you see it?


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