Up in the Air

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Postby dws1982 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:53 pm

So, somewhat surprisingly, I'm "the one". As in, the one who didn't like this. Don't have much time for details (maybe early next week or late this weekend I will), but to paraphrase a blogger, I was hoping for a film from the director of Juno but instead got one from the director of Thank You For Smoking.

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Postby Damien » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:53 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
Sabin wrote:No idea if I'll ever see Nine. Was Cruz really that bad?

Very bad. But the Academy loves her and she's sexy.

It's not simply that she's bad (which she is) it's how Rob Marshall employs her so vulgarly. Curiously, though, her performance in Almodovar's Broken Embraces is a thing of beauty, my favorite by a lead actress this yeat (haven't gotten to Swinton yet).

And as someone who rooted very hard against Marion Cotillard in the Oscar race two years ago and thought she was dreadful in Public Enemies, I feel obligated to say that she is the one grace note in Nine.
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Postby Big Magilla » Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:58 pm

I liked Cruz's performance outside the musical number, which was ghastly. Not enough to nominate her for one of my Oscar Shouldabeens, but more than I liked her in that Woody Allen thing she won for last year.

Cotillard, though, was better. Perhaps it was category confusion that gave the nod to Cruz instead. Or maybe those who liked Cruz in Broke Embraces simply wanted to honor her for something.

Dench, though, did nothing with her role, a major disappointment for me.

Musicals live and die on their musical numbers. This one fails in every attempt except for Cotillard's "My Husband Makes Movies". Even so, her second number, the film's only Oscar nominated song, falls flat. It's a bad movie and a bad, bad movie musical, worse than A Little Night Music, Annie and A Chorus Line, about on a par with the stupefying film versions of Man of La Mancha and Mame.

Sophia Loren now has the dubious distinction of having starred in two of the three worst adaptations of Broadway musicals ever made - Man of La Mancha and this thing.
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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:37 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
Sabin wrote:No idea if I'll ever see Nine. Was Cruz really that bad?

Very bad. But the Academy loves her and she's sexy.

I don't really know what people saw in Cruz. It was a rather expected performance, IMO. There are only two people in the film that I think really work and one of them, Judi Dench, was really just playing a role quite familiar to her past work.

Marion Cotillard, on the other hand, brightened every scene she was in. She conveyed pain, hope, anguish. While there is no comparison to Anouk Aimee in 8 1/2, I think what she did was light years beyond what everyone else did in the film.
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"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:35 pm

Jack, I have to disagree with your assertion that the film wasn't "one man seeks himself" for the entirety. While there may have been a better blend with other themes early in the film, I think the whole film is still about Ryan Bingham trying to understand himself, having though he knew himself well for most of his life and professional career.
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Postby ITALIANO » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:30 pm

Sabin wrote:No idea if I'll ever see Nine. Was Cruz really that bad?

Very bad. But the Academy loves her and she's sexy.

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Postby Sabin » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:21 pm

I haven't seen Crazy Heart yet. Mo'Nique is quite good in parts. I'm less impressed with her arc overall, but I'm far more inclined to blame Precious the film, than anything that Mo'Nique does or does not do. She probably has one of the best acted scenes of the year at the end. She's so honest that the film derails by not giving her the due that she deserves.

Farmiga, Kendrick, and Mo'Nique are all deserving. I have not seen Crazy Heart, but Lá Maggie is a glorious, wonderful screen presence and even if it's not up to her work in Secretary or Sherrybaby, I'm sure she'll hardly be the weak link.

No idea if I'll ever see Nine. Was Cruz really that bad?
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Postby ITALIANO » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:05 pm

Sabin wrote:What we, as movie-goers need, is the victory we no longer want or the success that comes at a price. This is righteousness. This is gospel. We just don't often know that we want it. Perhaps this is more true in America. Just to beat you to it. :)

:D

Well, then this is a very American movie - but of the best kind (and the reactions yesterday proves that this works for Italians, too. Maybe because yes, you are right, it might be conventional, but it was done I think beautifully in this case. I didn't even remember the V.O. so probably it wasn't so annoying to me).

You are right about The Departed, Bog. And she was very good even there. Had Julianne Moore been nominated in Penelope Cruz's place, this could have been a really strong Supporting Actress race - and I think that Mo'nique must be truly great to be better than Farmiga.




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Postby Sabin » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:58 pm

I'm impressed with your analysis Sabin, and I think I'm moved to actually give this film another try...if for no other reason than exactly what Italiano and Damien have agreed upon, hold on hope for this considering the alternatives.

When I first saw the film, I found it overrated. You wonder why there is nothing else. Then it starts to grow on you. You watch it again. You like it a little more. At the end of the day, it's a B+ on a paper with a tone that a lot of people find ever-so-slightly off-putting, beginning slickly and ending with surprising morality. Up in the Air is a film that CAN have its cake and eat it too. It's just not pulled off frequently as well as this that it can be a little disarming. Viewers wonder if they missed something. They really didn't.

I hate to be put in the position of overrating this film. I'm solidly in the ***/***1/2 camp. It's Reitman's best movie by far, and perhaps the best he'll ever do. I'm no fan of the guy. I think Thank You for Smoking and Juno are Of Interest at best, overrated perpetrators of both hipster and libertarian self-absorption at worst.

It does finish even differently than all 4 films you stated, and I'm sad I fell into the middle category you listed finding indifference because while Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets are piles of trash for the most part, in my opinion.

(Having a really shitty week. Need this diversion.)

Any movie regardless of however fraudulent the ending may be that has enough lovely moments is Of Interest in my book. I do not buy Jerry and Dorothy ending up together in Jerry Maguire, but -- perhaps it depends on your tolerance for Tom Cruise, and chalk it up to the fact that it was truly the first Tom Cruise movie outside of Mission Impossible that I saw in theaters -- I find it pretty enjoyable for the most part, very well acted (especially by Zellweger and Bonnie Hunt) and pretty darn funny. It's just a mess that is a little too enamored with its cuteness. As Good As It Gets is that X10. I can't quite hate it because I tend to laugh quite a bit in the first half, I think a couple of scenes knock it out of the park, I like Greg Kinnear's performance, and it has one of the loveliest scores of Hans Zimmer's career creating a nice little rhythm to it; and considering how structurally rhythmless it is, that's saying something. But it's a total crock. I think Mike D'Angelo wrote on his blog "I have a problem with Melvin Udall. What the hell is Melvin Udall's problem?" As somebody who is reasonably well-educated in ADD, OCD, ADHD, Bipolar disorder, etc, etc, etc, I have no clue. He's got a terminal case of Nicholsonia. And the cure is less a girlfriend thirty years younger than euthanasia.

It does end more vaguely as the latter 2 you listed, of which Sideways I find genuinely well made while Lost In Translation falls somewhere in my best of the decade group.

I don't think it ends more vaguely. Sideways ends more vaguely. It ends up in the air but with hope. Do you honestly see Miles ending up with Maya? I can't, but that doesn't mean I dislike the ending. It just ends with an ending, a knock on the door, one last try. That's jake in my book. Lost in Translation ends with a goodbye. It might be the better movie if only because it's the one that exists the most in miniature. I've heard so many arguments deflating Lost in Translation but I still think it's a pretty great little movie. Up in the Air ends pretty definitively. Ryan Bingham is going to spend the rest of his life doing exactly what he's looking at. Taking off and landing. That. Is. It. There's nothing vague about it.




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"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Sabin » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:46 pm

Pro-balance, yes, which as you point out isn't necessarily wrong - or conservative. But the fact that Farmiga, with her probably perfect heterosexual family, still needs - and not just likes - "diversions" I think says something.

You just came up with my new favorite talking point. Exactly! The film refuses to demonize her for wanting something on the side. Whether it's due to Reitman or Farmiga's beautiful performance, you do not hate her at the end. You just wish Bingham understood it a little sooner. As Ryan Bingham-with-a-vagina, she still has human needs to cope with her job. A family doesn't do it alone. It's an entire package. That is part of her balance.

I'll say it again. Ryan has a balance throughout the film, one he fights to preserve, he gets it at the end, but he doesn't want it anymore. This is basically as textbook as you can get. It fits into something, I think, that Mister Tee was talking about a little while ago. Too often in American movies, the hero gets everything he wants and doesn't have to sacrifice. What we, as movie-goers need, is the victory we no longer want or the success that comes at a price. This is righteousness. This is gospel. We just don't often know that we want it. Perhaps this is more true in America. Just to beat you to it. :)

And Kendrick, at the end of the movie, doesn't get a new loving boyfriend - just a new, though probably healthier, job (and yes, she is a "better person", but I found it quite believable after all).

It's absolutely believable. I've noticed that women find Kendrick's character annoying.

The ending IS moving, precisely because it's so honest and, if not unhappy, certainly bitter. I don't know what V.O. means, but I didn't find anything wrong with the ending.

Voice-over. It should end with George Clooney looking at arrivals and departures, for that is the rest of his life. Instead it ends with a shot in the air with voice-over, Clooney talking about how he's going to be over us from now on.
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Postby Bog » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:40 pm

I'm impressed with your analysis Sabin, and I think I'm moved to actually give this film another try...if for no other reason than exactly what Italiano and Damien have agreed upon, hold on hope for this considering the alternatives.

It does finish even differently than all 4 films you stated, and I'm sad I fell into the middle category you listed finding indifference because while Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets are piles of trash for the most part, in my opinion. It does end more vaguely as the latter 2 you listed, of which Sideways I find genuinely well made while Lost In Translation falls somewhere in my best of the decade group.

V.O. is just voice-over, unless it's a specific Sabin code of which I'm unsure...

and Italiano, I believe at the very least you'd remember the wonderful Farmiga as the main (only) female presence in The Departed.

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Postby ITALIANO » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:23 pm

Sabin wrote:It's not necessarily pro-family, but it's pro-balance.

SPOILERS


Pro-balance, yes, which as you point out isn't necessarily wrong - or conservative. But the fact that Farmiga, with her probably perfect heterosexual family, still needs - and not just likes - "diversions" I think says something. And Kendrick, at the end of the movie, doesn't get a new loving boyfriend - just a new, though probably healthier, job (and yes, she is a "better person", but I found it quite believable after all).
The ending IS moving, precisely because it's so honest and, if not unhappy, certainly bitter.
I don't know what V.O. means, but I didn't find anything wrong with the ending.

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Postby Sabin » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:03 pm

The Academy has a tendency to honor films that can be reduced to GUY WITH A PROBLEM. Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets, Lost in Translation, Sideways, and now Up in the Air. I think one can rate the success on where it leaves them. I absolutely buy the endings of Lost in Translation, Sideways, and Up in the Air, but Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets feel like reshot crocks of shit. There's charm in all these films but I certainly prefer the former grouping more than the latter.

Is it pro-family? Not exactly, though it is certainly about loneliness - but for example the Vera Farmiga twist makes it more complex than an easy celebration of the saving virtues of family life. By the way, another reason why Farmiga is so good is that, thinking of her performance, the way she seemed to hold back something makes sense finally. I WAS surprised - honestly I was sure that the movie was leading to Clooney, at some point, having to "fire" Farmiga - but at the same time I realized that the actress had been subtle enough to hint at it.

MILD SPOILERS...
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I was surprised too. Well, when he walked up the stairs, I saw an inkling of what was coming. But certainly not beforehand. Farmiga gets my prize for Best Supporting Actress in a walk for two reasons: 1) as difficult it is to romantically spar opposite John Cusack, it's hard to make me believe that George Cooney can pine after a woman; and 2) I honestly did not see it coming until right before. I didn't have time to wonder what her deal was.

It's not necessarily pro-family, but it's pro-balance. Like Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets, it suggest you need more from your life than your preoccupations. "You complete me." "You make me want to be a better man." At least Lost in Translation and Sideways understands that men screw it up. The biggest complaint that I hear is that Up in the Air suggests through its talking heads that all you need is your family to make losing your job all the easier. People are too cynical to believe this as true. Not simply a family, a wife and kids, but something to balance your career. The film perhaps is too intoxicating while "up in the air" with Clooney and his lifestyle, but I find the ending to be deeply moving. And truthful. What's not to believe outside the V.O.? It ends with him looking at the rest of his life on the arriving flights board. What isn't truthful about that? And the other films I mentioned involve closure: you get your wife back, you get your 30+ years younger gf and step on a crack, you get to say goodbye, you try to say hello again. Ryan Bingham is lost in the void. And this is awesome.

But it is pro-family. Vera Farmiga has chosen something else the entire time. She just likes diversions. Anna Kendrick walks away. She wants something more honest, especially after going to Nebraska for a guy and planning her entire life. I give her two years w/out a ring on her finger. Clooney's gal friday back home is now in a serious relationship. It's not about finding a heterosexual wife and raising 2 1/2 heterosexual children with a heterosexual dog, but it's certainly about ballast.

I love it that Clooney gets fired by Farmiga. In a way. Don't shit in the boss' bathroom.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:51 am

Sabin wrote:When there is one, it has to be like As Good As It Gets. Up in the Air doesn't have as many level-headed fans out there.

I was thinking the same. It's not a crowd pleaser a la As Good As It Gets or Jerry Maguire, and its being more subtle is what, I guess, prevents some from really liking it.



SPOILER


Is it pro-family? Not exactly, though it is certainly about loneliness - but for example the Vera Farmiga twist makes it more complex than an easy celebration of the saving virtues of family life. By the way, another reason why Farmiga is so good is that, thinking of her performance, the way she seemed to hold back something makes sense finally. I WAS surprised - honestly I was sure that the movie was leading to Clooney, at some point, having to "fire" Farmiga - but at the same time I realized that the actress had been subtle enough to hint at it.

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Postby Sabin » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:42 am

Another quick thing: my favorite Oscar category is usually either Best Original Screenplay or Best Film Editing. Of the latter, I just find it interesting to see what is considered essentially the Best Assembled Film. 2007 is the most interesting lineup to me because it has the most interesting assemblage of cutters. Into the Wild is essentially a work of montage, motivated by song. Diving Bell uses jump-cuts motivated by a character's impatience. There Will Be Blood opts not to cut away. Bourne Ultimatum cuts away to everything. And No Country for Old Men is a more classical approach. Naturally, the Most Editing wins. This decade they stopped short of Moulin Rouge! for Black Hawk Down.

This year's most surprising omission was Up in the Air. I remember predicted Sideways for Best Film Editing and felt surprised to see it miss out to Finding Neverland, but I told myself that it really wasn't a film of incredibly montage and could have been mildly slagged for it. After all as I believe SY said at the time, it felt a little like auto-pilot Payne if too lavishly embraced by critics. But Up in the Air's exclusion mystifies me. Except for the wedding sequence who does feel cobbled together, this is a very well-edited film, an ambitiously conceived work of comedy setting sequence to music. It absolutely flies by for 2+ hours.

What happened? Well, I understand District 9 and The Hurt Locker, two films that cover a lot of ground and use a lot of editing. And lord knows, Avatar is action filmmaking that uses a lot of montage, so that's a given. That leaves Inglourious Basterds and Precious. The former has structure issues, which stem from being written and directed by the same man. It's not a satisfying third act because just not enough has come prior. You can't fault the tension in the scenes though. It's certainly fine, and I might laud it more than any film in the lineup more than The Hurt Locker. Then there's Precious. I was tempted to call it the Worst Edited Film of the Year, but how much of this is the editors? Their hands being forced? Or their trough being spoiled? I maintain that the construct decisions in Precious are ruinous: the fades to black, the cutting to family portrait, the motherfucking eggs sizzling on a skillet. Horrible, horrible decision-making in the post-process! The most annoying of all is Lee Danies' adherence to just NOT doing those things and settling for a less tonally-imbalanced film. I don't know how much I can truly blame the editors, but while I know I've seen worse written films this year (Away We Go) and I'm not sure if I've seen worse directed movies this year (certainly the production choices in Public Enemies qualify as bone-head+), I know I haven't seen a film with as many transitional issues as Precious. And while we know it's a two-person race between Bigelow and Cameron, how the holy hell has Jason Reitman fallen behind Lee Daniels and Quentin Tarantino in the horse-race? Inconceivable.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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