Saturday, January 2, 2010

Up In the Air

I just got home from seeing "Up In the Air" with George Clooney. The first thing I want to say is it is not a comedy. There's nothing funny about the whole movie, but it's an excellent examination of the place that our relationships play in our lives. (Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 89% freshness rating, with all the reviews available here.)

It is very well done. It depends on what you want from a movie, and when I left "It's Complicated," I was smiling and happy, like I'd just had a good glass of wine with a friend. When I walked out of this movie, I was sad. Just plain sad, because of the incredibly poignant way this movie has of showing the reality of today's economy, with so many people losing their livelihood.

The story is about Ryan Bingham, a man who travels around the country to various workplaces and conducts employee layoffs on behalf of bosses too cowardly to do it themselves. The firm he works for hires a young recent Cornell graduate, Natalie, who decides she has a way to make even more money for the company: by firing people through video chat. Ryan takes her on the road to show her how he fires people, and she even fires some of them herself. I found that many of the people who were fired on screen were actual people who lost their jobs. From Wikipedia:
While shooting the film in St. Louis and Detroit, Reitman [the director] placed an ad in the paper asking if people who recently lost their job wanted to be in a documentary about job loss. He specified "documentary" in the ad so actors who wanted to be in the production would not answer the ad. Reitman was amazed by how many people of different age, race, and gender were willing to speak frankly about what happened and what a cathartic experience it was for these people. They received a startling amount of responses with 100 responses, 60 people on camera (30 in Detroit and 30 in St. Louis).
These people were not acting. They were telling their stories, and they are profoundly affecting. Even though the movie is about relationships, it goes about it by telling you what Ryan's life is like when he doesn't want any "baggage," i.e., relationships, ties, or family.

Go see the movie, but I was expecting a comedy, and it's not. It will make you look at your relationships with renewed appreciation, and it will break your heart that these real people are going through such pain and suffering. It's not like I haven't suffered through this past year, but nothing like these people. I was already retired when the recession hit in full force, and the job I had had for thirty years was no more, just a few months after I left. We don't have as much income, but we have enough for our modest needs.

Clooney deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Ryan Bingham, and the supporting actors, Anna Kendrick as Natalie, and Vera Farmiga who plays the female version of Ryan, are all first rate. I'd love to know what you think of it, if you go to see it.


  1. Hello there my friend! Is that what keeping you busy for the new year? Hahaha watching films! And that's good and nice way to spend time with friends. Anyway, I missed blogging I was so busy the past days, I've been here and there and everywhere. I did that, did these. Cook this and that hahaha. Happy new year my dear friend, DJ.


  2. Thanks for the review and the heads up that it is not a comedy - which is what I thought it was. It is so sad to see so many without jobs, and no way of finding one. The sign of the times.

  3. We have been so very fortunate here. It seems that all the struggles the people I love are experiencing are of a more personal nature instead of an economical one. I'm not sure how I feel about watching more struggling. Although I must admit that my moods change in a heartbeat these days:) Maybe tomorrow I'll want to go see this.

    I hate what is going on and can only hope that we have finally hit the bottom and are on the way back up. Now is the time to reach out and help those who have so much less. Maybe this movie can be a reminder of that.

  4. Doesn't sound real uplifting to me..I will pass. I like feel good movies..I can watch the news for employment woes. Far Guy wants to see Sherlock..I will probably tag along:)

  5. I kinda of want to see it!! Just started following you today!1

  6. I think I've seen enough of that close-up. That is the reason I'm retired now... plant closing. I think I'll stick with comedies.

    I've been getting older movies from the library. We watched "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry". Not a family film, but hilarious! "The Money Pit" is next. I love that movie... any movie that makes me laugh and forget life for a couple of hours.

  7. OOOH! I wouldn't want to see it! Thanks for letting me know!

  8. I saw the previews of the movie,and it did look intriguing. But I thought of corporate arenas I have worked at...and found out that some of the layoffs were not economically motivated...they came from new CEO's who wanted their "own people" in choice positions...laying off loyal employees who worked at places for was all very political and unethical and downright tragic.
    I wondered if the movie showed THAT side of layoffs....

  9. Glad you saw the movie. I am still on orders not to go outside but came back from the doctor. She thinks I am getting better. But the movie and your description of it reminds me of my youth when so many went through the Depression and were out of work. Wearing patched pants and shoes and holy underwear and washing in water heated on the teakettle, with lye soap, and planting a garden and raising chickens were things we took for granted. People lived or got by on a lot less than this new age has manufactured that their advertising says we need. I know my five kids have not had hard times yet but we got one back home living with us and her cat and daughter. It might be a sign of things to come. I hope so as I think way too many people have lived a life beyond their means and modern bankruptcy offers a slick way out. Seems like lessons are lost here.

  10. I loved this movie. But I left the theatre feeling sad as well. It is not only a movie, but a reality for so many people.

  11. It's so funny you wrote about this movie. I just got off the phone with my sister and she told me that she expected the movie to be funny and it wasn't! She's like me. She wants to leave a movie smiling and happy. I'm glad to know that "It's Complicated" left you feeling that way. Now I'll see that one for sure!

  12. I've read quite a bit about this movie over the last few weeks and it sounds very interesting. If I don't catch it in the theater I will rent it for sure. Thanks for the review DJan.


  13. Since I see homeless people every day at work, I don't need to cry anymore. However, I may give it a try when it comes round here. Thanks for the recommendation.
    Blessings, Star

  14. George was amazing in this! And the whole movie was so poignant... I thought it an excellent film! :o)


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