Saturday, February 13, 2010

Up in the Air (2009)

Again, another Oscar nominated film that I've actually seen (My past history with viewing Oscar nominated movies is quite shoddy, since they never come to my town). And this one seems to channel the spirit of Billy Wilder, which is a good, good thing.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a professional downsizer. He works for a company that his hired when companies want to lay off employees, but are too afraid to do so. So Ryan spends the majority of the year traveling from city to city and firing people. He also occasionally gives motivational speeches focused upon letting go of what he deems to be baggage (family, friends, anything that may tie you down in one place). During one trip, he meets a fellow traveler Alex (Vera Farmiga), and they strike up a casual romance, planning future rendezvous based on their travel schedules. Soon, Ryan begins to question his life choices, is a life untethered a life he really wants?

Along the way, he must travel with the company's newest and most ambitious employee, Natalie (Anna Kendrick). She's a young upstart, fresh from college and full of ideas about how firings can be conducted via webcam in order to spare traveling expenses.

The three leads in the film, Clooney, Kendrick, and Farmiga are all excellent and deserving of their Oscar nominations. George Clooney creates a charming character who only feels comfortable when he is on the road, he revels in going from airport to hotel to airport to hotel and feels burdened only when he has to spend time at his home. Anna Kendrick's able to take a character that could have been completely annoying and make her human. We empathize with the young girl being exposed to the world and the harsh career of firing people. Vera Farmiga conveys perfect confidence and naturalness as the witty match to Ryan Bingham. She makes the character feel lived in and we sense a history within her, it's not overbearing, just a slight touch of sadness.

The film itself is wonderfully written, with director/writer Jason Reitman (his third film, with the others being Juno and Thank You for Smoking) As I said, this almost feels like a Billy Wilder film, like a modern day The Apartment. It's a somewhat funny film tinged with a sense of sadness that follows a man's journey of realizing what he truly wants in life. The writing is sharp, interesting and the performances are mesmerizing. And to be honest, if I had my choice, Anna Kendrick would be getting the Oscar come Oscar night.

Watch it. Of all the films on my "Oscar List", this is easily near the top.

Oh, and on a different note, I've been thinking of starting another blog. Since I have trouble finding time to sit down and watch a movie without school work or dog drama acting up, I've been thinking of creating a blog more about me (because I am fascinating individual) since that would be much easier to update regularly. I wouldn't be abandoning this blog, so it's just something I've been considering. What say you, readers? Of course, I'm assuming I have any readers at this point.

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