DVD Review: Up in the Air

up_in_the_air_georgeclooney1-500x299

Ryan Bingham likes to keep things simple.  A constant traveler for work, he lives his life with his frequent flyer cards, his hotel reward programs, everywhere he goes, he is greeted with a chorus of, “it’s great to see you again, Mr. Bingham.”  Ryan Bingham is a professional down-sizer.When companies need to trim their staff down, they send in Bingham to be the hatchet man.  The work is not important to Bingham, it’s the lifestyle that the work allows him to live.  He spends as little time as he can in his apartment.  It’s too close to having a life.  He doesn’t seem to have friends, he has his job.  And his backpack of clothes.  As the movie opens, Ryan meets a fellow traveler, who lives by a similar ethos.  If they’re in the same city, or on the same layover, they’ll meet up.  Her name is Alex Goran and Ryan finds himself feeling something he usually doesn’t: he cares about her.

Meanwhile, things at work are getting complicated.  A young go-getter has come up with a way to virtually fire people on-line, thereby saving millions of dollars a year and thousands of miles in the air.  You sit down in front of your computer terminal, the firee sits in front of their terminal and they are told their services are no longer required.  Ryan thinks the concept is asinine.  You need to fire people face-to-face, you need to give them that respect.  To give the inventor a sense of what he does, he takes her with him on a trip, showing her that perhaps firing people isn’t as easy as she thinks it is.

This is Jason Reitman’s film and you can clearly see his imprint on the material.  Based on the book by Walter Kirn, it seems to have Reitman’s sensibilities throughout, much in the same way his first film, an adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s “Thank You For Smoking,” felt like a collaboration.

The cast is uniformly excellent.  George Clooney is outstanding, playing Bingham in a very subdued and carefully mannered performance.  Vera Farmiga, who usually disappears in her past films, (“The Departed,” “Running Scared,” amongst others,) is excellent here, playing Alex as the yang to Bingham’s ying.  Also impressive is Anna Kendrick, best known for her work in the “Twilight,” films, but turning an excellent performance as Natalie Keener, the inventor of the on-line executioner.  Reitman fills out his cast with some of his stock performers, veterans from his other movies, (Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliott,) who all work perfectly yet again.  The rest of the cast, mostly those facing firing are actual victims of downsizing, brought in by the filmmakers to re-count their initial reactions.  And it doesn’t feel like a gimmick.  It feels natural.

“Up in the Air,” is the kind of movie that sneaks up on you.  While you may not be expecting greatness, it sneaks up on you, introducing characters that may at first blush appear comic, but Reitman peels that away, quickly showing the vulnerabilities of each one in a way that draws you in.  By the end of the movie, there is a definite affinity and  caring for Bingham and his compatriots that I did not expect.  Much like “Juno,” “Up in the Air,” wins you over at first with charm, but quickly reveals a greater depth.  It is a movie that, upon walking into, you may not think you’re going to see a great movie, but by the end, you know you’ve seen something special.  It’s one of the year’s best.  -Sam

Ben’s Oscar Predications

Ben’s Oscar Predications

Every year here at LonelyReviewer.com, we try to see how close we can get to predicting the Oscars. In years past, each of the bloggers have done their own list. This year, we decided we’d pick and feature one. Ben and I have always gone back and forth on whose picks are better, who gets more right, etc. This year, Ben’s list is featured, let us know what you think! – Vatche

The predicted winners are highlighted in bold.

Best Picture

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
Up

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
James Cameron, “Avatar”
Lee Daniels, “Precious”
Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique, “Precious”

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, “The Messenger”
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “A Serious Man”
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, “Up”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, “District 9”
Nick Hornby, “An Education”
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche, “In the Loop”
Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious”
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air”

Best Animated Feature

“Coraline”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”
“Up”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Ajami” (Israel)
“The Milk of Sorrow” (Peru)
“Un Prophete (A Prophet)” (France)
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes)” (Argentina)
“The White Ribbon (Germany)

Best Feature Documentary

“Burma VJ”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Best Art Direction

“Avatar”
“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”
“Nine”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Cinematography

“Avatar”
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The White Ribbon”

Best Costume Design

“Bright Star”
“Coco Avant Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”
“Nine”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Editing

“Avatar”
“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”

Best Make-Up

“Il Divo”
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Visual Effects

“Avatar”
“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Best Original Score

“Avatar”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Sherlock Hollmes”
“Up”

Best Song

“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”
“Take It All” from “Nine”
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”

Sound Mixing

“Avatar”
“Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Sound Editing

“Avatar”
“Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

Documentary Short

“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit a la Berlin”

Animated Short

“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”
“Logorama”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Live Action Short

“The Door”
“Instead of Abracadabra”
“Kavi”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

Oscar Nominations Announced

Early in LA Tuesday morning, a good deal of people were up to hear the 2010 nominations for the Academy Award.  This is the first year of the Academy’s new ’10 best picture’ nominee concept. 

There is a lot of things to be excited about with this list of nominees, but a few things that upset me.  (That seems to happen every year.)  The full list is below.  Any oversights?  Any mistakes?  Let us know.

Best Picture

 “Avatar”

“The Blind Side”

 “District 9”

“An Education”

 “The Hurt Locker”

 “Inglourious Basterds”

 “Precious”

“A Serious Man”

 “Up in the Air”

“Up”


Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”

James Cameron, “Avatar”

Lee Daniels, “Precious”

Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”

Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”

Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”

Carey Mulligan, “An Education”

Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”

George Clooney, “Up in the Air”

Colin Firth, “A Single Man”

Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”

Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, “Nine”

Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”

Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”

Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”

Mo’Nique, “Precious”

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, “Invictus”

Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”

Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”

Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”

Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker”

Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”

Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, “The Messenger”

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “A Serious Man”

Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, “Up”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, “District 9”

Nick Hornby, “An Education”

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche, “In the Loop”

Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious”

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air”


Best Animated Feature

“Coraline”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

“The Princess and the Frog”

“The Secret of Kells”

“Up”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Ajami” (Israel)

“The Milk of Sorrow” (Peru)

“Un Prophete (A Prophet)” (France)

“El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes)” (Argentina)

“The White Ribbon (Germany)

Best Feature Documentary

“Burma VJ”

“The Cove”

“Food, Inc.”

“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”

“Which Way Home”

Best Art Direction

“Avatar”

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”

“Nine”

“Sherlock Holmes”

“The Young Victoria”

Best Cinematography

“Avatar”

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

“The Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“The White Ribbon”

Best Costume Design

“Bright Star”

“Coco Avant Chanel”

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”

“Nine”

“The Young Victoria”

Best Editing

“Avatar”

“District 9”

“The Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“Precious”

Best Make-Up

“Il Divo”

“Star Trek”

“The Young Victoria”

Best Visual Effects

“Avatar”

“District 9”

“Star Trek”

Best Original Score

“Avatar”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

“The Hurt Locker”

“Sherlock Hollmes”

“Up”

Best Song

“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”

“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”

“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”

“Take It All” from “Nine”

“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”


Sound Mixing

“Avatar”

“Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“Star Trek”

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Sound Editing

“Avatar”

“Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“Star Trek”

“Up”


Documentary Short

“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”

“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”

“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”

“Music by Prudence”

“Rabbit a la Berlin”


Animated Short

“French Roast”

“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”

“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”

“Logorama”

“A Matter of Loaf and Death”


Live Action Short

“The Door”

“Instead of Abracadabra”

“Kavi”

“Miracle Fish”

“The New Tenants”

Golden Globe Noms Released

Tuesday morning found people on the west coast up very early to hear the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations.  Here’s the full list, with the TV categories included:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Best Director – Motion Picture

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Crazy Heart (2009): T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham(“The Weary Kind”)

Everybody’s Fine (2009): Paul McCartney(“(I Want To) Come Home”)

Nine (2009): Maury Yeston(“Cinema Italiano”)

Brothers (2009/I)(“Winter”)

Avatar (2009)(“I See You”)

Best Animated Film

Best Foreign Language Film

A few thoughts: “Invictus,” was shut out of the biggest category, (best motion picture- drama,) and will that hurt it’s Oscar chances?  Nice to see Meryl Streep wrack up a few more nominations.  (I believe that brings her lifetime nominations to 25, or something equally silly.)  The nominating committee seemed to dig “Inglourious Basterds,” which was nice. “Nine,” did well with nominations, but will that mean anything when the Oscar nominations come out?  The reviews seem to be tepid at best.  (I’m still looking forward to seeing it.)  “The Hurt Locker,” picked up a bunch of nominations, which that, coupled with the ‘best of’ awards it’s been wracking up bodes well for an Oscar nomination.  The same goes for “Up in the Air.”  Looks like those two will be the names to beat at this ceremony, and the one held in February.

Review: Up in the Air

Review: Up in the Air

up_in_the_air_georgeclooney1-500x299

Ryan Bingham likes to keep things simple.  A constant traveler for work, he lives his life with his frequent flyer cards, his hotel reward programs, everywhere he goes, he is greeted with a chorus of, “it’s great to see you again, Mr. Bingham.”  Ryan Bingham is a professional down-sizer. [Read more…]