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PCR #508 (Vol. 10, No. 51). This edition is for the week of December 14--20, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Up In the Air"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Up In the Air"  by Mike Smith
Time Warp Toy Box ’09 – Part 3  by ED Tucker
Ninja Assassin  by Jason Fetters
Intro 2 Lampin' .... My Letter To Tiger Woods  by John Miller
Chad Ochocinco: Nfl’s Black Sheep? .... Steelers Out? .... Holmgren Returns .... Cowboys Vs Saints .... Bob Greise Says Lose One .... Tiger Woods: Athlete Of The Decade?? .... ....  by Chris Munger
Guess Who Died? .... The Year That Was Part I .... .... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2  by Mike Smith
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Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 50 mins

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before. I’m positive I’ve thought it. Each generation produces an actor that can transcend any genre and make every performance, be it dramatic, comedic or somewhere in between, believable. For my grandparents’ generation it was Cary Grant. For my folks', Warren Beatty. For those of us going to the movies now, it’s George Clooney. And Clooney delivers a performance for the ages in “Up In the Air.”

Ryan Bingham (Clooney) has what he considers the perfect life. He happily travels the country for his job, more excited about the three hundred-plus days he spends on the road then the dull few weeks he is at home. His job? Hatchet man. When an employer finds it necessary to fire someone and doesn’t have the guts to do it themselves, they call Ryan’s firm and soon he’s on his way to Dallas. Or St. Louis. Or Kansas City. Or really anywhere an airplane can fly to. Because of his many years on the road, Ryan has gained almost regal status with various airlines, hotels and car rental companies. He has a secret goal….to become only the 7th person to earn 10 million frequent flier miles. He’s close. Very close.

A film that is not only outstanding but timely, “Up In the Air” announces Jason Reitman to the world as a filmmaker to reckon with. With his adaptation of Walter Kim’s novel, Reitman has now managed to create three of the best films of this decade (“Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno”) in less than five years. And like his previous two films, the success of “Up In the Air” is achieved through his actors. Ryan is carefree, happy and not one for serious relationships. When he meets a like minded woman (Farmiga) they spend their time together comparing their various loyalty cards. Their relationship is one of convenience but soon Ryan finds himself truly missing being with someone for the first time in his life. At the same time, he discovers that his way of business will soon be obsolete. Instead of flying all over the country to wield his axe, his co-worker Natalie (Kendrick) has suggested doing it via web cam. This means Ryan can spend the majority of his time at home…the one place he dreads . He also hates being assigned the job of bringing Natalie up to speed, though he is very quick with traveling tips, including never getting behind old people when going through the security line. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left!

The film is also full of small touches that make it stand out. Rather than script the various scenes where Ryan dismisses people, Reitman placed ads in major cities
posing as a documentary crew looking to document the effect of the recession. Those who showed up were instructed to treat the camera like the person who fired them. They were asked to respond honestly, many of them taking the opportunity to say what they really felt. Another great touch is that, as Ryan travels, we are given an overhead view of each city he arrives in, giving the audience the same view of the town as Ryan has. A small but revealing part of the film, one of this year’s best.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Up In the Air”  

This week's movie review of "Up In the Air" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.