Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

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Jeff
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Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#1 Post by Jeff » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:37 pm

I know that Juno gets shit around here, but I think that's mostly aimed at Diablo Cody. The early buzz on Up in the Air is very solid. I think Kris Tapley was in the tank for the thing before he saw it, but still. It premiered at Telluride this afternoon, and I expect we'll be hearing a lot more about it after Toronto. Looks like an early Oscar bet, and Clooney sounds like a sure thing. Trailer is due out next week.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#2 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:38 pm

A round up of reviews from Telluride. It's looks like this one is going to be a favorite for quite a few statues in February.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#3 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:50 pm

It sounds quite promising, I've not seen Juno but I loved Thank You For Smoking. And you almost always can't go wrong with Clooney nowadays so count me interested in this.

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Jeff
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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#4 Post by Jeff » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:06 pm


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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#5 Post by puxzkkx » Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:36 am

I enjoy Clooney's ability to almost completely divorce himself from his star persona in some performances, and give interesting reflections/ruminations on said performance in others. I doubt I'll enjoy this (it looks rather trite) but I'll see it anyway for him.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#6 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:15 pm


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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#7 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:17 am

Here's the teaser trailer. I'm not really not seeing what the critics are flipping out over.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#8 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:22 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:Here's the teaser trailer. I'm not really not seeing what the critics are flipping out over.
The clip was awful. The trailer?
I like it.

(Edit: Whether I'll actually like the film or not, who knows? The general plotline/story arc seems fairly obnoxious, but the contrast between small, intimate moments and huge inhuman vistas that we see in the trailer was quite affecting, I thought.)

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#9 Post by Cde. » Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:51 pm

Yeah, great trailer.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#10 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:38 pm

I wish more studios put out trailers like this. It interests you, but doesn't give away the ballgame by doing it either.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#11 Post by Cde. » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:38 am

Apparently Jason Reitman was involved in the creation of this trailer (though he didn't do the actual editing). Filmmaker crafted trailers are usually the most interesting (see also Paul Thomas Anderson and Stanley Kubrick's trailers).

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Jeff
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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#12 Post by Jeff » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:58 pm

Jeff Wells is over the moon for it. Of course his constant posting about it and excerpting of the most positive parts of reviews for the past week seemed to indicate he had already made up his mind to be over the moon for it. I'm guessing that the studio plans to take out some pricey banner ads on his site. Also, only uncouth idiots who like strawberry Twizzlers (?) don't think it's the best movie of the year.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#13 Post by Cde. » Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:44 am

This film won't make any money because of the eloi and the low thread-counters.

Seriously though, the two biggest raves came from Kris Tapley and Jeff Wells, and both of them seem to have decided to love the film a long time ago.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#14 Post by kaujot » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:45 am


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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#15 Post by knives » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:22 am


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Jeff
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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#16 Post by Jeff » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:05 am

I caught the film at a festival screening in Denver tonight. It didn't hit me nearly as hard as it did Wells or Tapley, and its flaws resonate nearly as much as it's triumphs. The charming cast and occasionally very funny script win the day though. Though I think I ultimately like Thank You for Smoking a bit more, Jason Reitman really is hitting his stride. This is an existentialist comedy with its sights set on Billy Wilder's gentle cynicism. Though Reitman doesn't really come close to matching Wilder's biting wit and comedic timing, he certainly has a knack for developing characters whose faults are the center of their charm.

Clooney plays a "career transition consultant," whose job it is to do the dirty work of firing employees for corporations who lack the fortitude to do it themselves. This allows for some timely social commentary as a host of character actors portray the victims of corporate downsizing. Clooney's considerable charm is put to good use as he does his best to convince them that losing their job is the best thing that ever happened to them.

Anna Kendrick, heretofore unknown to me, but apparently a staple of the Twilight movies, has something of a breakout performance here. Both Kendrick and her character are alternately annoying and endearing, but the latter trait ultimately wins out, and I have a feeling that both the actress and the character will outgrow the former. The vastly underrated Vera Farmiga turns in yet another amazingly deft performance in a thankless role as Clooney's apparent female counterpart. It's an incredibly smart and knowing performance that pays off in unexpected ways in the rushed conclusion. Jason Bateman's smarmy wit is always appreciated, but he's miscast here as Clooney's corporate boss. J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliot, and Zach Galifianakis are wasted in cameos.

Up in the Air is of a piece with Jerry Maguire and Sideways. Comparisons to Maguire seem inevitable, and indeed ten years ago, the role would have likely gone to Tom Cruise. Crowe and Payne are Wilder wannabes too, and the three films share the portrayal of a protagonist obsessed with their conflicting needs for both social status and insularism.

Reitman seems a bit lost in the perfunctory final act, and has considerable trouble landing the plane. He manages to set it down in the Hudson though, with a bittersweet closing sequence. Up in the Air is sure to garner a lot of attention during awards season. The film, the script, and Clooney all seem like very likely Oscar nominees.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#17 Post by souvenir » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:34 am

Jeff wrote:Anna Kendrick, heretofore unknown to me, but apparently a staple of the Twilight movies, has something of a breakout performance here.
Look at Rocket Science, the largely ignored fictional feature debut by Spellbound director Jeffrey Blitz which at times too closely resembles the work of Wes Anderson but makes its own mark in ways that virtually all of the other Anderson-lite films do not (probably by sharing a Hal Ashby sensibility rather than a strictly Wes Anderson one).

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Jeff
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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#18 Post by Jeff » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:50 am

souvenir wrote:Look at Rocket Science, the largely ignored fictional feature debut by Spellbound director Jeffrey Blitz which at times too closely resembles the work of Wes Anderson but makes its own mark in ways that virtually all of the other Anderson-lite films do not (probably by sharing a Hal Ashby sensibility rather than a strictly Wes Anderson one).
Thanks for the reminder, souvenir. I actually saw Rocket Science when it came out, but had forgotten about the film and didn't make the Kendrick connection. Oddly enough, I now recall Kendrick being my favorite thing about it.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#19 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:03 am

souvenir wrote:
Jeff wrote:Anna Kendrick, heretofore unknown to me, but apparently a staple of the Twilight movies, has something of a breakout performance here.
Look at Rocket Science, the largely ignored fictional feature debut by Spellbound director Jeffrey Blitz which at times too closely resembles the work of Wes Anderson but makes its own mark in ways that virtually all of the other Anderson-lite films do not (probably by sharing a Hal Ashby sensibility rather than a strictly Wes Anderson one).
I see absolutely no similarity between that film and Wes Anderson's work, for the record. In fact, I'm overwhelmingly puzzled by your comparison.

I saw it at the Philadelphia Film Festival that year and with 40+ films viewed in two weeks, that, The King of Kong and Them were my top three - and even though the latter two are a documentary and a jumpy horror film, they both held up much much better than Rocket Science upon second viewing. In fact, I don't even know if I can recommend it at this point.

But yes, Kendrick is [by far] the brightest spot of the film and she absolutely deserves this breakthrough role opposite Clooney.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#20 Post by souvenir » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:43 am

mfunk9786 wrote:I see absolutely no similarity between that film and Wes Anderson's work, for the record. In fact, I'm overwhelmingly puzzled by your comparison.
Really? The voiceover reminiscent of Tenenbaums? The awkward adolescent with family issues? The soundtrack? The abundance of quirk? I'm hardly the first person to make that comparison. It's not a dig at anything to recognize the similarities, though, again, I think the relation is probably tied at Ashby rather than Blitz shamelessly aping Anderson.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#21 Post by Grand Illusion » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:29 pm

I found this to be pretty slight.

I'm not the type of person to say a film has to be political if it's about cartoon rabbits or some such. But if you're going to raise the spectre of the current economic depression, and those moments are clearly the most powerful in the entire film, then perhaps you told the wrong story.

There's a possibility of unique themes. Clooney's character could be read as some sort of detached god. A Wings of Desire-esque Angel of Firings. He can affect the lives below him, but cannot join in. Etc. No such themes are truly explored.

This follows a pretty conventional romantic comedy structure for about 90% of the film, and, even in its ordinariness, there are gaps of time where seemingly important characters are lost. The whole diversion to Clooney's hometown takes way too long and sacrifices character motivation for needless sentimentality.
SpoilerShow
Normal people don't break into their old high school, much less a sociopath who struggles to keep away from people and memories. And why does Anna Kendrick's character and plotline suddenly cease to be important?
Overall, the script just isn't as smart as Thank You For Smoking and can't carry the inorganic moments and rushed developments. Somewhat enjoyable, but forgettable.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#22 Post by domino harvey » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:08 pm

Well, allow me to rave. I went in with low expectations but this is one of the best films of the year. A movie that's easy to love thanks to three of the best performances of the year. I sure hope to God that this whole awards-snub thing blows up in Mo'nique's face so either Kendrick or Farmiga can take the Oscar. If I had to give the edge, I'd want to put it on Kendrick, who takes what could have been a thankless stereotype on the page and infuses her naivete with heart worth rallying behind. She's in over her head, but we kinda root for her anyways. But Farmiga's wonderful, sexy performance is right up there, and she exhibits a maturity welcome in modern filmmaking. As for Clooney, what is there to say other than that I've never seen him better.
SpoilerShow
Up in the Air ultimately serves as a good rebuttal to the whole "Better to have loved and lost" platitude-- There's an inevitability to the film's ending, sure, but that makes it all the more tragic.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#23 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Dec 26, 2009 1:59 pm

I'm with Domino on this one. I saw A Single Man on the same day, and while that was an incredibly shallow portrait of a man who could improve his life by lifting his pinky finger and chooses not to, this was an immensely real and warm portrayal of a man who is completely in tune with himself and seemingly wouldn't want to change for anything. It was refreshing to see the ending (which I think some people may have misinterpreted?) bring things back to a realistic place for Clooney's character, because I've had about enough with moralistic, predictable denouements - all the negative life choices his character is blasted for being throughout the film are proven to be straw dogs in the first place - he is willing to give them all up for the right person or the right alternative. His life in Omaha seems absolutely miserable - why wouldn't you want to fly around and stay in hotels - it beats Omaha.

But "a problem is only a problem if you have a solution" is wisely uttered early in the film, and with that Clooney attempts to make a major shift and rather unpredictable and [although the missus' disagrees] upsettingly realistic things occur that thrust him right back into his comfy cocoon. It's rare and refreshing to see a film about someone putting themselves in a rut that isn't merely one that takes place at home. He's the most mobile person in the world, but he'd give it all up for the right solution.

I'm not so sure that Clooney is my absolutely balls-to-the-wall Best Actor favorite at this point (I was still more impressed with Matt Damon in The Informant!) but I will say that Anna Kendrick is absolutely the best young actress out there. She wasn't given too much to do but ramble without feeling in Rocket Science, which was impressive but ultimately shallow - but in this film she makes her character feel like such a real person that you could reach out and touch her - and she still exhibited an ability to jump through the verbal hurdles of the fantastic screenplay that upstaged anyone on screen with her.

Great film, and I agree, Domino - one of the best of the year. This really is Clooney's year - I didn't see The Men Who Stare at Goats and likely never will, but his performances in Fantastic Mr. Fox and this film are absolutely top notch.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#24 Post by harry » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:48 pm

This struck me as surprisingly generic, predictable until maybe the last three minutes. Without the final 'twists' this would fundamentally be, like, Clooney's Last Chance Harvey. It's rare that I so completely fail to recognize any of the positive things attributed to a film by critics I admire.

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Re: Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009)

#25 Post by exte » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:12 pm

harry wrote:This struck me as surprisingly generic, predictable until maybe the last three minutes. Without the final 'twists' this would fundamentally be, like, Clooney's Last Chance Harvey. It's rare that I so completely fail to recognize any of the positive things attributed to a film by critics I admire.
I'm a structure geek, and I agree. The film had a 22-25 minutes Act One, seemingly standard 40 minute Act Two, and then what I thought was the Act Three with the wedding sequence. I think the filmmakers knew what they were doing in scripting a standardish script, only to reverse virtually everything in the final twenty minutes. It's like a standard three act with an additional 20 minutes to twist everything... Was that effective? Well, yes and no. For me, Clooney finally became an actual empathetic character, versus just the usual Clooney as Clooney in another movie... But really, a film that forges true pathos only in its last twenty minutes, is it worthy of Best of the Year that I've been hearing? I think Hurt Locker did a better job, all the way through.

Aside from the last twenty minutes, I felt the direction was sort of all over the place, at least in the beginning. The music that was pumping, I think in the credits, was so American Beauty. Thomas Newman didn't do the score, so there was no repeating of an artist here. And I felt the young woman brought on board was so wildly distant/displeasing. If all great drama is triangulation, then her character brought on as sort of this juxtaposition was made to be too funny, all the time. I did not frankly enjoy laughing at her. I didn't understand the point, aside from occasional comic relief and "adding" a third dimension. I also thought her sudden, earnest chastisements of Clooney were only there to serve the arc, not really revealing anything about her or him... And I never bought that such a well oiled businessman like Clooney would ever stand another question about his personal shit. Then she just carried on and sort of fell off whenever needed/was convenient...

And technically speaking, what was that BS about her great internet idea? How could that even fly? How was Clooney not promoted just for seeing through that all along?

I thought Vera was great, but being the so-called 'year of women in film' (so stupid, since they're 51% of the population!), I wonder if the film would have benefited if SHE was the main character? If Clooney was perhaps in the role of supporting character and the girl was the mentee of Vera? And what if - as happens in the real world - the young woman actually slept with Clooney? Why not shade that in instead Miss Wannabe-Perfect?

Alright, sorry if this was too stream of conscious, but I don't get what all dramatic acclaim is about this one...

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