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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Up In The Air - Review

As some of you may recall, I had a bit of a disagreement with Jason Reitman a while back, when he suggested that having yellow walls in your bedroom was "girly", and I suggested that having a broken nose was fair punishment. Nevertheless, I decided to put that incident, and the restraining order, behind me, and watch Reitman's newest film: "Up in the Air", starring the future Sam Fisher.

I wish... (However, there is hope)

The plot is relatively simple - But to be honest, if you want to hear about that, you can just go and look it up on IMDB. Right now, I just want to tell you what impressed me about this film:

Even though it is ridiculously predictable in many, many ways - it still somehow goes differently to what you were expecting. Now, I know this sounds weird, but bear with me for a second (oh, and massive spoilers ahead, in case you literally haven't read any of my blog posts yet and aren't aware that when I "review" a movie, I basically just mean I give away the end of the film...)

Think about Se7en. Now, we all knew Kevin Spacey was going to die at the end of Se7en - there was just no other way to end it. Hell, I figured it out straight away, when I first heard the killings were based on the Seven Deadly sins. But, assuming you, like me, hadn't heard anything else about the film, you probably didn't expect it to end quite as it did. So, here's what I thought was going to happen:

I assumed that Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman would be tracking the killer, and getting ever closer to him as he murdered his way through the sins; Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Envy, Lust and Sloth. Then, when there was only one person left to kill, the two detectives would finally capture him at his home, and it would look like they had won. He would then smile, and reveal the painfully obvious truth; that by killing all these sinners, he himself had sinned, as he had become wrath. He would put the gun to his head, and Brad Pitt would run forward to try and stop him, but *BANG* he would blow his brains all over the wall, taking the life of the 7th and final victim. End Scene.

Now, I was correct in thinking that the killer would be one of the sinners, and that he would die, but what actually happens in the film is, as you undoubtedly already know, very different to what I described above.

It's actually fairly similar to this...

And the same is true for "Up in the Air".

Clooney's character meets a girl early on who he becomes steadily more and more interested in as the film progresses. When it reaches time for him to give his big speech in Vegas on how being single and not having relationships tie you down and get in the way, I thought I knew exactly what would happen. After all, I had already seen this movie:

I'm having a very Coen-Brothers-y day today...

He gets partway into his speech, realises he no longer believes what he's saying, and completely changes what he was going to say - we are met with a stunned silence from the crowd, who can't believe their ears, then they all start applauding, and he goes off to be with the woman he loves, before finding out a terrible secret about her.

Well, Up in the Air did unfold in a very similar manner to this, but with a key difference. Whilst the bit about the woman he loves having a terrible secret was still there (it could hardly be considered a spoiler to tell you *shock* she has a husband and a family!), and the speech scene started out exactly the same, the way it unfolded really surprised me. Rather than change his mind and express his new found beliefs, changing his ways and still winning the support of the people who once loved his uncaring, greedy attitude, he just walked off the stage. That was it. When he stopped speaking, I was certain things would unfold in exactly the same way they did in Intolerable Cruelty (though, without the wacky humour, Up in the Air is a tad more subtle), but instead he just paused, with the same look on his face as he had in Intolerable Cruelty at the exact same point in the film, but then he just turned, and walked off. End of scene. And I was impressed.

I mean, everything worked out exactly the same, but just to show how that character didn't need to convince everyone his change in direction was the right thing to do, how he didn't feel the need to spread his message, and how he didn't even care what people would think of him if he left the stage, was awesome, and really fit in with what had happened prior to that scene. Not only that, but it makes the character, and by extension the film, seem so much more believable than if he had given an impassioned speech and won over the crowd. Of course, I loved what the Coen Brothers did in Intolerable Cruelty, playing the speech out for laughs, but I'm glad they didn't try and have George do a serious speech in his change of direction in this film, because I love that scene just as it is.

The other thing I was impressed with was how he didn't get with the other girl the movie focuses on (Anna Kendrick) at the end, as I expect to happen once he found out that Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio's shared girlfriend already had a family. Instead, she flies away to live in San Fransisco, and he simply writes her a reference for a new job - it was so different, and yet was a great way to break the crappy romantic movie cliche of the guy falling in love with the girl he's been spending time with and not thought about in that way before. It is, simply, genius. The very end scene, too, is incredible, because we realize that, after all that has happened to him, and how different Bingham (Clooney) is for his experiences, nothing has really changed. He understands more about family, and attachment, than he ever did before, and he realizes that he can't live as he is forever, but in the end, he's still the same guy, living the same way, perhaps just a bit more depressed than he was at the start. At the end, does he just get on the first flight and go anywhere, as Kendrick suggested he should earlier in the film, or does he go straight back to work? The point is that we don't know, but as with the ending of Inception, the real point is that it doesn't matter, because either way Bingham has had to put the idea of family behind him, and is back to his lone-wolf travelling ways. And, of course, this was also a surprise, as it had been hinted at right from the start that Clooney would lose his job to the new system invented by Kendrick's character. So, whilst I thought the film would end with the man who fires people for a living being fired himself, and getting together with the woman responsible for him losing his job, Reitman played it cool, and threw us one hell of a curb-ball.

The real achievement in this film, however, is not how great it is to see cliches smashed, but more how incredibly cool Reitman was able to make a guy whose entire life revolves around racking up air miles. Every man on Earth wishes he was George Clooney, that's a given, but to make us all wish we were a man who does nothing with his life but catch planes, and stay in hotels, trying to reach the grand total of 10 million air miles? Well, that's some impressive writing. And you know what? I genuinely did want to be just like this man when I saw the film. Even the idea of going after something so pointless as 10 million air miles just to say you'd done it seemed cool after watching this. I mean, how is it not? 10 million air miles? Jesus, that's as impressive reaching your 100th Blog post. Speaking of which...


But seriously, the character is instantly likeable, and yet at the same time, we are all very aware of his hollow existence. And that fact that I haven't wanted to be another character this badly since Richard B. Riddick is testament to just how well written this script is... Riddick's a badass.

Pvt. Caparzo, on the other hand...

There were a couple of odd things I noticed, however, which I thought I would mention...

For starters, how is it that Vera Farmiga had no boobs at all in the Departed, but apparently has huge ones in Up in the Air?

I swear, she must have a double who looks identical to her, but with much bigger boobs. Kind of like Zooey Deschanel does...

Seriously, which one is this? The boobs are literally the only way to tell. Well, that and the presence of Russell Brand, I suppose...

The other thing which I thought was odd was that I learned the people who are having a go at Clooney for firing them are mostly people who had actually just lost their jobs recently, and thought they were appearing in a documentary about the recession. That seems a bit twisted, don't you think? "Oh yeah, it's for a serious documentary to help raise awareness of the struggles faces by the lower classes. lol jk, it's a Clooney film."

Still, I was thoroughly impressed by this film, and highly recommend you watch it, even if it is by the same guy who thinks yellow is too girly a colour for a man's bedroom, and who made one of the actors from the Trailer Park Boys have sex with Michael Cera, an offence which should rightly be punishable by death...

He has a certain Naïve charm; but no MUSCLE!



3 Stars

Unfortunately, recently, I'm only reviewing films I like, so I'm not ranting anywhere near as much as I used to... Still, this film was really well done, and certainly worth a watch. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, and most of the humour is very subtle, but it is still a brilliant comedy, which tackles movie cliches in a cool, stylistic manner. Plus, there are some pretty damn good actors making cameos throughout the film, including none other than Sam Elliott:

Sorry, I just had to put another one in...

I highly recommend you check it out. Even if it isn't as good as some other movies I've seen recently, it's a hell of an enjoyable 105 minutes. Plus, George Clooney - NEED I SAY MORE?


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