Up In The Air

“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.” One of the many philosophies of Ryan Bingham, a man who lives his life on the road and literally calls Hilton one of his homes. Bingham works for a corporate downsizing agency that steps in and fires people, and his biggest aspiration is to reach the 10 million mile mark with American Airlines. He also prides himself on perks, earning all kinds of points and jumping to the front of any line at an airport or hotel. This film is a dark satire about business, relationships and being on the road.

George Clooney (Oceans 11, Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading) plays the man Ryan Bingham. Although his role seemed to be the type that Clooney is best at, and to me kind of ¬†Clooney being Clooney, this just might be enough to earn him a Best Actor Oscar. I think he will for sure be nominated, and I can’t really think of a leading role that would beat him. He plays a go getter and on the move businessman, and is really top notch in his role. Of course part of what makes George Clooney so good is his surrounding cast, and the two women that are with him throughout the movie are very good. Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Orphan) plays Alex who is a business woman who has much of the same attitude as Bingham, proud of her plastic cards, hotel and airport perks. Bingham’s coworker and travel partner is played by Anna Kendrick (Twilight). Her character Natalie Keener is the antagonist of Bingham, standing for commitment and settling down in relationships, yet she is the very one pushing the cutting edge in business about to knock Bingham out of a job. Jason Bateman (Juno, State of Play), Sam Elliot (The Golden Compass, The Contender) and J K Simmons (Juno, Spiderman, Rendition) all make appearances.

All in all, I think Up In The Air is a terrific film. Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) has a wonderful style for satire. Already nominated for Best Picture in the Golden Globes, I can see this getting an Oscar nod as well. Especially with the new field of 10 nominees. With great directing and superberb charaters throughout the film, this is worth catching for sure.

The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red LineMost reviews that you will read on this film will be how great, poetic, masterfully shot this film is. First let me say I did enjoy this film and I have chosen to watch it several times since it came out. I do however think that most of the over the top glorified reviews come from fans and people that believe that Terrence Malick is the be all end all of movie directors. Personally I think he is a bit over rated. This came out the same year Saving Private Ryan did, and I don’t think it comes close to being the film that Private Ryan is. Malick supporters will say I just don’t get it, or I’m not intellectual enough to understand him. I understand him, and get it, he is just a bit heavy handed with his directing and many times to artsy for his own good.

Really the one thing that annoyed me about Thin Red Line was the voice over. Soldiers in war don’t run around thinking in Shakespearean pros or poetic verses as if from a Robert Frost poem. My general opinion on voice overs in films are that if you need one, you are not doing a very good job. I think some of the thoughts and points could have been conveyed through acting and the film score. Most reviews say this film makes you think, to me with the voice over, Malick is trying to do your thinking for you by spelling out what he is trying to say.

This film does has an impressive cast. Sean Penn (Best Actor Milk and Mystic River), Adrian Brody (Best Actor The Pianist), George Clooney (Oceans 11, Burn After Reading), John Cusack (Runaway Jury, Must Love Dogs), Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Frequency), and probably the only performance worth bragging about come from Nick Nolte (Cape Fear).

In my opinion this is a good war film, but at times a bit too artsy for it’s own good. I am sure some will love it and think of it as a deeper war film than anything out there, just didn’t come across that way to me. This film is still worth watching, I just wouldn’t put it at the top of the “to watch” pile.