Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Review: What Goes Up, Must Come Down, But Not This Film

In recent years, there isn't many directors who can say their movies went 3/3 out of the gate. Now, Jason Reitman (son of Ivan Reitman) didn't grab any Academy nod's for 2006's Thank You For Smoking, but that doesn't mean that he didn't grab the attention of everyone or it wasn't a great film. Then he hit it big with Juno in '07 with a best director nod. And now he's done it again with Up In The Air and pulled of well deserved Best Pic, Director and Adapted Screenplay nod's. 

Rietman is quickly establishing himself as the go-to for mainstream dramedys that don't suck. And for films that will stick with us, and always leave a lasting impression. Here is my review on a film that actually deserves it's Best Pic nod.

The film is encompassed in a short synopsis. A corporate downsizer and his travels with a new trainee showing her the ropes. Until he meets woman on the road who counters his way of an "attachment free" lifestyle.  

Up In The Air starts us out with Ryan Bingham laying off employees of the respective companies he is on loan to for the day. Turns out, these were no actors, but actual citizens of this fine country that were fired/laid off. Well, all real people short of a beautiful cameo by Zac Galifinakis as the last fired employee. A casting call for a documentary on being laid off in the current economy grabbed more people than Reitman could have hoped for. Twenty-two people of the one hundred responses made into the finished film. Simply method acting out their emotions and reactions to themselves being fired once before, they did it again for Clooney and the cameras. They captured just what you would want. We then see him going through a small monologue as Galifinakis displays why it is best for a firm to freelance out to other companies, and lay people off. In short, Clooney tells us, "Because people do crazy shit when they get fired."

He then makes his way through his way through the airport as we hear his words, "To know me is to fly with me. This is where I live. All the things you probably hate about traveling. The recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers... are all reminds that I'm home." This the quintessential essence of Ryan Bingham. It where he feels most comfortable, and most confident that his life is going just the way he wants. That is, until we meet Anna Kendrick's character, Natalie Keener. A top grad from Cornell, she is pushing a plan to cut costs by having employees stay grounded and conduct layoffs over the internet. Of course, this is where Ryan has the biggest problem, it could ruin his very way of life that keeps him enjoying it so immensely. And, it's a shitty thing to do to people. So an argument to prove his point and her inexperience and total lack of sincerity for others ensues; and also provides us with why Clooney and Kendrick (her first academy nomination, Best Supporting) deserve the nod's they get. In fact it's my favorite scene. Which is how the movie comes together. After the fight, Jason Baitmen, Clooney's boss, gives him Natalie to take with him on the road as he lays people off and give her an idea. A chance to do it herself and see how it works, and why it it such a delicate task to take on. 

Not after long, we meet Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), the beautiful, sharp and soft spoken woman who grabs Clooney and draws him in with only the terrific way is capable of. Here we see something we didn't exactly get the chance to with her in The Departed: precision grace and control.

Going one on one with Dicaprio and not only just holding your own in a Scorsese film but soaring and real flavor to it is enough for me. But she got nadda come the '06 awards season. Here we see why she is as good as she is gorgeous. Never the one to loose her head, or even break the smile into a frown, this woman always has her laser sharp eyes set to stun and rev's Clooney's heart from zero to sixty in not time. Who wouldn't get weak in he knees? One of my favorite analyzers, Todd McCarthy, said this in his review:

The timing in the Clooney-Farmiga scenes is like splendid tennis.

McCarthy nailed it. It does feel like a well executed game you'd be watching on ESPN. The tit-for-tat approach they took with they material was a great one. Clooney also translates this into scenes with Kendrick and she give it right back to him. And you gotta give it to her for doing so well with such talent as Farmiga and Clooney. She's no newb to the world of acting, but she isn't a name either--and that doesn't stop her from carrying herself with the prestige that the award deserves. All the nom's for everyone are well deserved. 

Clooney especially. The greatest use of symbolism in the entire film is when he attempts to place a giant cardboard cut out of his sister and her fiance into his suitcase. His suitcase IS his home, his life even. And he's TRYING TO FIT HIS FAMILY IN HIS LIFE. It doesn't exactly work either. Ryan Bingham has freed himself from all attachments. This is the same man who mouths, "Fuck", when he sees his sister calling. The same guy who says, "Oh fuck..." when he sees Kendrick's character is about to cry.

Three performance awards, a directing, producing and writing on top of that? All those things go into what makes a best picture a best picture above the others. There are more than just this one boasting that, but there are also NINE more in a category that starts to spread the merit thin and the Nelson ratings across the board. And of course the campaigns for Avatar and The Hurt Locker are storming ahead and making waves. Pitting the two against each other, the indie vs. the box office smash of a lifetime, making it feel like the Giants/Patriots Superbowl. but let's not forget in almost every case this script has picked up a nod from anyone, it's won, in fact it's gone (if I'm correct) onto win 16/23. And those include the Writer's Guild (who piss everyone off), Golden Globes, BAFTA's and Critic's Choice. the only thing left is the Academy Awards. I'd be sorry to see In The Loop loose the Oscar, but it appears as if this film has got it in the bag. We'll have to see what happens come next Sunday, but hopefully we don't bank too hard and come in for rough landing and a let down. 

Munki Out.

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