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"Up In The Air" - (Grady)
Studio: Paramount
Release Date:
Special Features:

(See Below)


Jason Reitman (director and co-writer with Sheldon Turner based on Walter Kirn's novel of the same name) is a bright light among the new directors of important stature. He has a style: he makes comedy films touching on serious matters (JUNO deals with teen pregnancy, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING deals with the dangers of tobacco); his films open with significant and elaborate sequences; his main characters offer highly subjective narrations and tend to be self-confident people who end up re-thinking their lives; he tends to favor continued using of a troupe of ensemble actors (here JK Simmons, Sam Elliott, James Bateman). UP IN THE AIR shares all of these traits and more. It dares to talk about firing people in a time when everyone in this country is frightened about the job market and somehow manages to show the compassion for both the victims and the perpetrators. It is a challenge of the first order and Reitman makes it work very well. This is not a feel good comedy; this is a drama with comic relief that addresses serious issues and people's responses to them - employment, relationships, marriage, and apparent self-sufficiency.***

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) spends his time in the air, flying to companies across the USA whose CEOs don't want the job of informing employees they are no longer needed. Ryan manages to make these encounters as human as possible and he is an artist in his work. His personal life is rather arid: his love needs are met by women on the run, he has distanced himself from his family, electing to maintain a sterile one room apartment in Omaha which he uses the few days out of the year when he is not flying. He meets a very beautiful, smart, and seductive woman Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) and a crazy courtship ensues as they meet in different cities - both being traveling business people.***

Things change when Ryan's boss Craig (Jason Bateman) takes on a fresh graduate student with big ideas for reducing the costs of the company. Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) is smart, a focused designer of telecommunications who has sold Craig on the idea of doing the firing remotely rather than spending the money to fly Ryan et al around the country. Ryan bristles and demands that Natalie accompany him on his personalized interview firings before the company goes Skype. The two - Ryan and Natalie - are paired for an excursion of real life jobs terminations and both learn from each other. Ryan continues to have trysts with Alex and eventually Ryan, Alex and Natalie party together. Natalie discovers the human side of Ryan's work and finds the person to person contact difficult. At the same time Natalie challenges Ryan's inability to form realistic relationships with women. Hurtful things happen to each to the three fliers, causing each to re-think their career goals as well as their personal needs.*** Clooney, Farmiga, and Kendrick deliver first class performances (very obviously Oscar worthy), but then so do the many cameo actors in the film: Amy Morton, Melanie Lynsky and Danny McBride as Ryan's needy family, and a long list of very brief but deeply moving cameos of people being fired by an extraordinary group of actors (casting director Mindy Marin deserves an Oscar also). The gorgeous cinematography is by Eric Steelberg and the music score is by Rolfe Kent (with a special nod to the composer and singer and guitar player who ends the movie credits with a song that summarizes the ideas of the film). And shining over all of these factors is the superlative, flawless direction of Jason Reitman. This film may have unpopular themes, but it is most assuredly on of the best films of 2009. Highly recommended.***

Special Features:

Commentary By Writer/Director Jason Reitman, Director Of Photography Eric Steelberg and First Assistant director Jason Blumenfeld; Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary; Featurettes: Shadowplay: Before The Story; To Know Me Is To Fly With Me; Real People Firing and Irate Employee; Thumper and Extended Boat Scene; Omaha Montage; Spacesuit; Trailers.

Blu-ray Extras:

Additional Deleted Scenes; Storyboards; American Airlines Prank; Help Yourself Music Video by Sad Brad.

Final Words:

This film may have unpopular themes, but it is most assuredly on of the best films of 2009. Highly recommended.***


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