December 25, 2009
Review - " Up in the Air " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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should be getting pretty heavy now. You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home... I want you to stuff it all into that
backpack. Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office...
and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your
parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack, feel the weight
of that bag. Make no mistake your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. All those negotiations and
arguments and secrets, the compromises. The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some
animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We
are not swans. We are sharks." Bingham prefers to walk away from it all. His life is about streamlining and traveling light.
So meeting Alex (Vera Farmiga) throws a
huge wrench into Bingham’s machine. His
female shark-like equivalent, she’s looking for
no-strings-attached sex and companionship
on business trips. Bingham and Alex’s banter
about frequent flyer miles and rental cars is
riddled with double entendres. And soon he
takes her to his hotel room, where the camera
gets a shot of her lovely naked backside.
They kiss, talk briefly of sexual positions and
arrainge to meet for similar rendezvous later.
But their episodic interstate hotel trysts
gradually leave Bingham suddenly feeling
lonely and wanting more. Bingham does grow
to realize that his sterile reality is not a life at
Twenty-three-year-old upstart dynamo Natalie
(Anna Kendrick) is equally disruptive to
Bingham’s detached routines. She introduces
the idea of firing people remotely over the Internet, possibly saving their company millions in travel expenses — and
simultaneously threatening Bingham’s very existence. You see, Bingham oxymoronically believes employees deserve a
personal touch when being let go. While firing an employee named Bob (J.K.Simmons), Bingham challenges him to rethink
his life’s direction, giving him hope. Rather than considering the layoff negative, he tells Bob to see it as a rebirth and
chance to pursue his talents and dreams. Bingham demands that inexperienced Natalie learn the old ways before instituting
new ones. Their boss, Craig (Jason Bateman), concedes, but requires Bingham to do the showing during a cross-country
firing expedition. "We are here to make limbo more tolerable" for the newly unemployed, Bingham tells Natalie. In reality,
though, he’s the one treading water. The movie knows it. And we know it. The two immediately challenge each other’s core
beliefs, and both are left in a quandary: Natalie wonders if she can live with herself as she destroys people’s lives. Bingham
wonders if he can face having a grown-up connection.
he can provide. The evolution he undertakes is really pretty amazing and I credit Kirn, Reitman, and Clooney for pulling it off
with grace and laughter.
Every single actor is unforgettable - even the bit parts like Zach Galifianakis and especially J.K. Simmons as two corporate
employees who's jobs have been eliminated. Jason Bateman is hilarious as Clooney's smug boss, fully embodying the take
no crap nonchalance he made famous in "Arrested Development"; Farmiga is gorgeous and competent to be able to go
toe-to-toe with Clooney in the detachment and power-hungry attitude of flying in style for half a year or more; and, if
George's reinvention of character is revelatory, then Kendrick's naïve Natalie is masterful. In what is doubtlessly her best
performance, Kendrick is perfection as the seemingly sure-of-herself Natalie. This girl was top in her class, able to get a job
in her field wherever her heart desired, yet settled for this firm specializing in firing people so as to not dirty the workers' real
superior's hands. Young and confused about life in the big world of adulthood - set on a plan for marriage and children to
occur as though set times on a clock - her eyes are opened to the intimacy and fragility with which a person's mental state
can be affected by mere words. When you put them all together, Up in the Air resonates on so many levels; deserving of any
praise and accolades to be bestowed upon it. Hilariously funny every second of the way, it is still unafraid to dig into the dark
moments of life and treat them with respect and relevancy, going places you wouldn't think it would have the guts to go.
Bingham’s story brings to light a whole host of issues worth thinking about when it comes to relationships. "What's in Your
Backpack?" This movie, which deftly comes disguised as a romantic comedy but really challenges us to consider what is in
OUR backpacks – that we ARE all bogged down both by 'stuff' and by commitments to people. As Bingham preaches, we can
chose not to be weighed down. But, as Bingham comes to realize, we can also make choices to refill our backpack with the
things we want in our lives. We may all die alone, as Bingham points out, but it is how we enjoy the journey that is the central
puzzle of life, and the object of this film.
Up in the Air explores the price of relationships — and the cost of a life without them.
Up in the Air
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Starriong: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason
Anyone who has ever been fired must see "Up In The Air." Jason
Reitman has done again. The director of "Thank You For Smoking"
and "Juno" puts real life out there in an incredible way, where we all
laugh and then walk out of the theatre thinking about what is really
important. A film with a message that's entertaining: what a concept.
George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, his occupation is to relieve
people of theirs. He spends 322 days on the road, living out of a carry-
on bag and firing employees for corporate honchos who are too
gutless to do it themselves. In depressed economic times, his career is
in high gear.
He packs clothing, wields frequent flyer miles and navigates security
with a drill sergeant’s precision. And his solitary, Up in the Air
existence is the only thing he loves. It’s delightfully devoid of
commitment, affection and other messy complexities of life. He even
moonlights as a motivational speaker, giving self-help lectures on
how to simplify life by avoiding material possessions, relationship
interaction and obligation.
"How much does your life weigh?" Bingham asks. "Imagine for a
second that you're carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all
the stuff that you have in your life... you start with the little things. The
shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger
stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV... the backpack
What you might initially think is a witty
comedy about a jerk of a guy who not only
thinks he's better than everyone else, but
actually is, that either finds the error of his
ways or gets dropped down a peg or two,
eventually becomes a tale chock full of heart
and emotion. The real success story of the
film is a revelatory performance from
Clooney who really knocks this on out of the
park. He always showed the charisma and
chops to play confident and successful, but
here is allowed to also branch out and
express the pent-up frustration that comes
with isolated loneliness, the passion one can
have for a job that seems horrible, yet, when
treated carefully, is a job to take seriously,
and the compassion for humanity on the
whole, softening enough to realize that there
are people around him that need help
besides his laid off strangers, help that only