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.

Brothers

Ah, a break from movies in the man-cave at the homestead. DLP TV is still in the shop. My better half and I ventured out to see the new Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name Of The Father) film Brothers. Ok, treading carefully here as to not give things away for those that want to see it….this film is about two brothers Tommy and Sam. Tommy has just been let out of prison. Sam, who is obviously the favorite son and has always been the star athlete and well liked, has the perfect family with his wife Grace and 2 girls, and is being deployed to Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, Sam  is presumed dead. The story develops as Tommy makes an effort to reassert himself in his family by helping Grace and being there for her two daughters. Of course the drama escalates as Sam returns home, dealing with certain events and returning home to a confused family. If you want to know any more than that, you need to go see it, hope I didn’t give too much away already.

The cast. Tommy, the ex-con is played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, October Sky) and the other brother, Captain Sam Cahill is played by Tobey Maguire (Spiderman, Wonder Boys). Both performances were outstanding, and it would not surprise me at all to see one or both of them on the Oscar list early next year. Personally, I think Jake Gyllenhaal was a bit better in his role, but Tobey Maguire seemed to have the scenes where an actor can “grandstand” a bit, which seem to have some pull with the Academy. Both are top notch performances. Natalie Portman (Closer, The Other Boleyn Girl) plays Sam’s wife, Grace. At first she seemed a bit miscast and out of her element. She looked a little to perfect to be in a middle class family, but a few details given later on about being a popular girl, “cheerleader that dated the football player,” type of girl, I was OK with it.

Overall, I don’t think this is best picture material, but still is a very good and thought-provoking film with many tense moments that will keep  you on the edge of your seat. (One of the most uncomfortable  family dinner scenes I can think of…right up there with Anne Hathaway’s toast in Rachel Getting Married.) This is not a feel good movie, but the cast is very strong and everyone delivers, right down to the two little girls. I would recommend this one for sure.