Monday, December 7, 2009

Up In The Air- He says

I will say this movie is highly recommended; everything from the acting, to the story, and the music is fantastic. The basic story follows George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham, as he goes through life as constantly on the go corporate downsize. As he explains, he’s the guy who comes and fires you if your boss is too much of a pussy to do it himself, with a supporting cast that includes Vera Garmiga, as Alex Goran, Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener, Danny McBride, Zach Galifianakis.

The story follows Ryan as he lives his life as man who seems to have done a great job of keeping people at bay from him. He sees the people that he fires are mere nameless, faceless creatures in a huge sea; he has perfected sounding sincere. He has a side gig as a “motivational” speaker. His speech, which can be heard during the teaser trailer, encourages people to carry less weight in their lives, whether it is figurative or emotional. He wears sharp suits, a neat haircut and uses a compact rolling bag to save time during check in. Obsessed with status, he is basically the “Mack Daddy” of American Airlines, Hertz, the Hilton hotels where he spends more time in than his own apartments. Everything he does seems like a seamless and calculated action. The way he talks to Alex Goran (Vera Garmiga) even seems soulless using his sweet Premier-Ultra-Platinum-Plus-Black-Diamond cards from the hotels to impress the equally airborne Alex. It’s funny because the movie for the first half reminds me of the first part of Fight Club where Edward Norton’s character describes the changing time zones, the meals, the lack of true, genuine interaction as a reason for his unhappiness. Ryan Bingham on the other hand revels in it! He actually made me envy him in his oh-so-cool ways.

The catalyst for the story is Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a hot shot from Cornell who wants to streamline the process in which the company fires people. She suggests a more “economically efficient” method by firing people over the Internet to reduce travel costs. Ryan’s boss, Craig, played efficiently Jason Bateman (who reminds me of a sadistic Michael Booth), decides to ground Ryan from travel. Ryan proceeds to embarrass her and mock her process in front of Craig after which he makes Ryan takes Natalie under his wing.

Then meat and potatoes of the movie starts; I love this movie (though not nearly as much as Jonesy. The direction feels more confident than in Reitman’s previous films, with Reitman giving us scenes that are filled with purpose. Given that he wrote this movie almost 9 years ago, it amazes me, that there was more subtlety and almost an air of elegance about the movie. To an extent, I was afraid of Diablo Cody’s influence on him. Thankfully, this feels like a more mature Thank You For Smoking than Juno. Interestingly enough this movie is comparable to Judd Apatow’s Funny People, in that it is neither a drama, nor an off-hand romantic comedy, but I will never call this movie a dramedy, seriously this isn’t music where we can come up with weirdo sub genres to describe anything that’s somewhere in the middle. ). I was really impressed by the music selection. Unlike Juno there aren’t a million and one songs playing, there’s more restraint here and it is used to great effect. To me hearing Elliott Smith at a certain point made happy and made the scene more effective because the lovelorn lyrics and snow imagery add depth to it. The score, written by Rolfe Kent was very much in the background, and subtle, but I do not think of it as a detriment. The movie doesn’t lend itself for in your face music in any way, if anything the sparse soundtrack could be a good aspect

The characters themselves are wonderful to watch. They are likeable yet and extremely well written (frankly I love my characters flawed.) Ryan is to a perverse extent of what people strive to be when they’re in the “suit n’ tie” world. He’s a big shot; he makes a lot of money and is a charming and likeable guy who knows how to say all the right things. Alex is a go-getter type of woman. She carries herself as a confident and strong, if not equally detached individual. Natalie is just like every twentysomething trying to make a name for herself, but in her quest for acceptance she seems to be even colder than Ryan, but way more naïve. There was a scene where she is making algorithms and flow charts for conversations on how to fire people that makes Ryan look like was the sweetest guy ever. The story itself is also a relate able one in that we all have gone through a time in our lives where our ground has been shaken, and how we deal with those changes. For me as a recent college graduate, I can’t help but feel a connection to Ryan.

The skeptic in me kept on waiting for this movie to thread in cliché movie moments, which I will not mention for the sake of spoilers. I’m happy to report that one of the big reasons this movie works so well for me is that it keeps you on your toes, even the ending was not what was expect from a typical “finding yourself” movie. When you leave the movie, you will feel satisfied; it works in a humorous, dramatic and emotional level. It will make you re-think your life, your goals, and relationships without depressing you; because we’re all just human. Even if we have the courage to change ourselves, we won’t get it right the first time.

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