Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Up in the Air About "Up In The Air"

Most of the movies that I actually take time to watch, and in some cases to drive an hour and a half away to catch in a theater that mostly shows only cult and independent film, are good movies. They have already generated a significant buzz by the time I get to them. Also, while these movies might not necessarily be among my favorite movies of all time, there is almost always something to recommend them, some unique way of looking at the world.

This sort of ambivalence is how I felt about George Clooney in Up In The Air. I chose to watch this particular movie because of the Oscar buzz accompanying it. After all, it has been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Writing, and TWO Best Supporting Actress nominations.

While the movie was a decent movie, it isn't one that I am going to wake up in thirty years, in a cold sweat, needing to watch right away, a sensation I recently experienced over  Red Dawn. Up good movie, just not a very memorable one. (Upcoming blog post: why Red Dawn is one of the greatest movies of all time.)

 So far, my favorite for Best Actor is still Colin Firth in A Single Man. Clooney is good in this, but not good enough for the Oscar. Although he does have more emotional depth than he did in, say, Ocean's Thirteen.

Vera Farmiga is stellar as Alex, a business woman who meets Clooney's Ryan Bingham in an airport. Both she and co-star Anna Kendrick received well-deserved Supporting Actress Oscar nods for their roles. As Natalie Keener, Kendrick plays a young idealistic foil to Farmiga's cynicism. If for no other reason, watch this movie for these two performances.

As far as the story goes, it does take some unpredictable twists, departing from the usual Hollywood formula, which is another good reason to watch the movie. Positive. But Up in the Air nevertheless falls short of its own attempted poignancy. I found myself yawning during the most profound parts.

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