Jason Reitman was in a puckish mood when I talked to him in October of 2009. UP IN THE AIR had not yet opened, so the critical acclaim and multiple awards hadn’t begun. During a conversation that ranged from the current economic climate, to the putative difficulty of making George Clooney look anything but ravishing, Reitman showed the dark humor and sharp insight into human nature that have marked his film work. Whether or not there will be a musical in his future featuring Clooney in a clown suit is an open question.
Based on the novel of the same name by Walter Kirn, UP IN THE AIR is a timely consideration of another definition of what it means to be homeless in the 21st century. The focus is Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, a man who has traveled ten million miles and suddenly discovers that he hasn’t really gotten anywhere, as the for-hire hatchet man brought in to do the dirty work of downsizing for companies that would rather not do it themselves. His studio apartment is more impersonal than the hotels where he actually lives, perfectly reflecting a life unfettered by any human relationships of any real permanence. Paradoxically, though, his gift is humanely walking people through the worst day of their lives. When a bright young thing with big ideas for how to change the company he works for threatens to ground him, he suddenly has to come to grips with living a life that doesn’t involve boarding passes and rental cars. Also complicating things is a fling with a fellow traveller that is turning out to be more. The film co-stars Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman, Melanie Lynskey, Anna Kendrick, Sam Eliot as the face of the values corporations would like us to believe that they hold dear, and Danny McBride in a non-comic turn. Reitman directed from a screenplay that he co-wrote with Sheldon Turner.
Reitman’s previous work includes the stinging yet satisfying THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, and last year’s indie hit, JUNO. He produced the recent piquant comedy horror socio-political commentary, JENNIFER’s BODY. He has been nominated for numerous awards, including an oscar for his work on JUNO, and was the recipient the Cinema For Peace Award in 2008 for most valuable work by directors producers, and screenwriters.
Click here for the full review of UP IN THE AIR.