[Up in the Air]

Up in the Air was my one hundredth film in the cinema this year, and as such already had an outsized degree of importance attached to it, and as I sit here trying to figure out what to tell you all about it (whoever you are, if you’re even there) I mostly just want to go see it again. And then possibly have a good cry. It felt very personal in a way I hadn’t expected.

Here’s what you want to know. It stars George Clooney. His character fires people for a living, and in doing so, he spends over 300 days a year traveling. Airports are home. His family are all strangers to him. His life goal is membership in an exclusive frequent flier club. But then a few things happen. His firm decides to go high tech & threatens take him off the road. He meets someone (the always-fabulous Vera Farmiga). His sister’s getting married. His airport cocoon is challenged, basically, and all against a background of things that are happening now in America.

It put me in mind of a line from “Wonderfalls”: “You have really managed to create a stressless, expectation-free zone for yourself.” There are expectations, but only professional, and nothing he can’t handle. People are okay and everything, but best not to let anyone get too close.

For about the first half of the movie, I was pretty irked by Anna Kendrick’s character (looks like she’s currently being wasted in the Twilight franchise), not through any fault of her own, but because I wasn’t really excited about seeing another young professional woman get schooled. And I was the only person in the theater to laugh out loud when she precluded remarks to Farmiga’s character with “I don’t want to sound anti-feminist, but”. And that she couldn’t grasp why someone wouldn’t want kids? Ridiculous. But she redeemed herself by the end, so okay.

It’s the third feature from Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno) & probably accessible to folks who didn’t like either of those. He manages a perfectly even tone, a challenge, considering the themes, and all the more artful for the apparent ease with which he carries it off. Clooney’s the unlikeable guy that you like, and if you’re me, the guy you identify with a little bit more than is comfortable.

[Almost year end!]

Most of this batch is nearly two weeks old. I apologize.

* The Golden Compass was extremely pretty, and, I thought, very well-cast, but very cold. I didn’t connect with a lot of it emotionally, whereas the book was devastating in places. Things that were particularly awesome: Iorek Byrnison, Lee Scoresby, Pantalaimon. Things that did not bother me: where it ended in relation to where the book does. I still think that to end it at the same place as the book would have been really weird in terms of pacing, and that the way it did end felt right for the end-of-the-first-part-of-a-trilogy. So there. Not that there will be more of the trilogy, unless it does really well overseas.

* I’m Not There, while not perfect, was definitely the most interesting film I saw that weekend. Cate, of course, is marvelous, and I was surprised to be so taken with Richard Gere’s segment. The world-building there was made for me, though, the West and masquerade and religion. Christian Bale’s portion was terrible, and Ben Whishaw had potential but was poorly used. Totally worth watching, though.

* Sweeney Todd was one heck of a movie to see at 10:30am on a Sunday, I gotta say. Though I don’t know the show, I know the story, which put me ahead of a portion of the audience. I can’t even imagine going into that cold. Visually it was *stunning*. The opening credits are up online, and watching them last week made me want to see it again. I just wish that Burton had held back a little on the blood. Slightly less cartoonish would have been more effective, but I am still really grateful that Burton got it instead of Rob Marshall, as was rumored after Chicago.

* On the third try, I finally made it to a screening of Juno. I am so excited for all the well-deserved attention Ellen Page is getting now. Basically it is fantastic and everyone needs to see it. And then buy the soundtrack. But please do not freak out Kimya Dawson.

* Finally, tonight I saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I had been a little hesitant about this, not because I didn’t think the movie would be good, but just because this has been a really long week, and it’s in French and about a fellow who is paralyzed and can only move his left eyelid. I thought I might have to be in a particular mood to see it. If that’s true, then I was. It was gorgeous, difficult, and utterly captivating. I’m really glad I went.