The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
— Ryan Bingham
Jason Reitman’s latest film is getting considerable awards attention as of late. I was surprised that it was playing at my local theater. Going into the movie, I didn’t want to have too much expectation of it, because I might be disappointed with it. Ultimately, the movie is a wake-up call that people cannot live a solitary life.
Based on the book by Walter Kirn, Up in the Air tells the story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), an “executive efficiency expert”, which is a fancy term for a mediator that a company hires to fire their employees without doing the firing themselves. He is ultimately content in his life living from Hilton hotel to Hilton hotel, renting cars from Hertz and living out of one nicely packed carry-on. He travels 322 days out of the year and he wants to rack up many flier miles that he can so he could reach his ultimate goal of ten million miles that six people accomplished before.
His life takes a detour at a hotel bar when he meets the vivacious Alex (Vera Farmiga) who literally charms the pants off of him. She is on the same boat as Ryan. They both enjoy the allure of racking up frequent flyer miles and keeping up with multiple membership cards. They both have an understanding their relationship is strictly casual to where they intersect on their different travel schedules.
His boss, Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman), calls Ryan back to home base at the Career Transition Corporation, where he lets the other experts knows that their face-to-face methodology is obsolete. A young Cornell grad student named Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) shows the experts that a better way to be more efficient is to fire people via e-conference.
This does not sit well with Ryan, whose whole livelihood is built around not being grounded in one place for too long. Craig thought that it would be best for Ryan is bring Natalie along on his firing runs so she could better prepare the technology before Ryan becomes irrelevant.
For a man that doesn’t want to have anybody is his life, these two women, Alex and Natalie start to become a chink in his armor. He slowly begins to realize that his life is all that is it cracked up to be. He needs to face reality and have a human reconnection with somebody.
The movie is like a plane taking off. Sorry for the metaphor, but go with me on this. When it gets off the ground, it’s a little bumpy. It steadily gets better as it progresses toward the end. I did have a problem with the motivations of Alex. I can’t explain it here. Watch for it in the spoiler section.
The performances were solid across the board. Clooney was basically playing himself expect he was more cold and distant about how he doesn’t care about the countless lives that he change. Farmiga showed subtle exuberance in her approach of the love interest that tickles Ryan’s fancy. Kendrick was a small fish going into a ocean full of piranhas, but she is a scrappy girl that is not afraid to tell it like it is.
Judgment: This movie is a relevant take on if bad things happen, good things come around the corner.
You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.
— Juno MacGuff
I haven’t seen Juno since it was in theaters during the Oscar hoopla in 2007. There has been considerable backlash with this movie like any other movie that receives a lot of buzz that it could give you a migraine. Re-visting this movie again, I still think it’s a sweet story that has a lot of heart over the off-putting dialogue.
Juno MacGruff (Ellen Page) is sixteen-year-old pseudo-intellectual hipster Minnesota girl that finds out that she is pregnant with her Tic-Tac popping best friend, Paulie Bleecker’s (Michael Cera) baby. Freaked out by the news, she wants to have a quick abortion, but she decides to have the baby.
She tells her synergistic cheerleader best girl friend, Leah (Olivia Thirlby) who thinks that she has a food baby. (A Diablo Cody-ism). When she tells Paulie, he was surprised that she was preggers, since they had sex when they were bored.
Deciding to give the baby away, Leah and Juno look for prospective adoptive parents in the local “Penny Saver”. They come across an ad with a huge picture of the perfect married couple, Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman). Juno thinks that they could be the ones to take care of her baby.
Before meeting the adoptive parents, Juno has to drop the news to her father, Mac (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother, Bren (Allison Janney). When she does, they thought that she was drug addict or a big sloppy drunk. The news was worse then they imagined.
Mac and Juno drive up to St. Cloud where the Lorings live. Juno gathers that Vanessa is a prim and proper, uptight woman who just wants to be a mother. Other the other hand, Mark is a laidback jingle writer that is more of man-child, someone that she could vibe with about retro slasher films, Les Paul guitars and vintage rock ‘n roll.
Should the film been nominated for Best Picture? Of course not. The only reason that the movie was, because of the buzz that surrounded the movie; Fox Searchlight can put on an Oscar campaign like Harvey Weinstein. It was easily accessible.
Universally the dialogue has been a problem for people. Sometimes it could be too right on the nose or you wonder the fuck did they just say. I think the performances saved the movie for sucking big time. As much as I don’t like Michael Cera, he was less Cera-like, because he had a supporting role in this film.
Judgment: If you could get past the first third of this film, then you will enjoy this film.
That’s what you call damn fine reporting.
— Cal McAffrey
I heard about this movie a year ago when the writer’s strike was happening. I heard news that Brad Pitt was set to play Cal McAffrey, and Edward Norton was suppose to play Representative Stephen Collins, but they had to drop out of the film. Pitt’s reason was because of the script needing a rewrite and Norton has scheduling conflicts.
The movie opens a possible random act when a drug dealer and bicyclist are gunned down in a dark alleyway by a man with a silencer (Michael Berresse).
The next day, a young Congressional aide, Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer) is found dead after a subway accident. The news travels to Rep. Collins (Ben Affleck) that leads to a media firestorm after their dirty laundry is exposed to the public. The news does not sit well with his wife, Anne (Robin Wright Penn).
A Washington Globe journalist, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is an old college friend of Collins. He personally investigates to see if the two murders are interconnected.
The editor-in-chief Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) is struggling to keep the newspaper afloat in an ever-changing electronic media age. She assigns a rookie that works for the newspaper’s blog, Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) to Cal. Cal is not happy about it. He thinks that bloggers regurgitates another person’s work that adds their “opinion” to it.
There are twists and turns that kept me engaged with the story to the very end. The movie is showing that newspapers are dying a slow, painful death. Nothing is being done to stop it. In an age of Internet blogging, newspapers are struggling to stay current to the times.
Newspapers rule and blogs drool. That should have been the tag line to the movie.
Judgment: If you are looking for a tight political thriller, then check this movie out.