‘Up in the Air’: round two

Posted by · 9:25 am · October 7th, 2009

George Clooney in Up in the AirI have to confess that I’ve been a bit hesitant to watch Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” a second time.  When a movie hits me as perfectly as this one did, gets so much right, seems like such a gift of the season, my reaction is to let it lie for a long time.

What if I see it again and it lands flat?  What if the emotion of the first viewing has somehow been compromised by my life in between viewings?  I don’t want to lose the high a film puts me on and reconciling that with a need to further investigate can be really tough.

I’m glad I went back to the well on “Up in the Air,” though, because it illuminated so many textures I didn’t pick up on initially.  Dana Glauberman’s sharp editing, for instance, which, scene for scene, adds so much to Reitman’s script.  The way real life interview footage with laid-off employees is seamlessly integrated into the narrative.  The timing in comedic moments.  It’s very precise.  She’s more than deserving of the Hollywood Film Fest award she’ll receive on October 26.

I had a chance to speak with Glauberman after the screening and look forward to interviewing her for Tech Support in the coming weeks.  She’s a dynamic, smart young woman with a great sense of humor.  Editing legend Anne V. Coates was also in the crowd, by the way.

Another thing that hit me were the levels of character layering in the script that can really only be fully discerned after knowing where the narrative goes.  Ryan Bingham’s repetition of the phrase, “Make no mistake,” for instance.  It may have been just favored verbiage from Reitman and totally subconscious, but it’s reflective of the main character in some ways, a man so uniform and streamlined in his life that he’s left no room for failure on any level, small or large, and as a result, robbed himself of the freedom that comes with that, with emptying his backpack, if you will.

There’s also the film’s third act reveal, which is indicated in nuances and even outright dialogue in earlier scenes more than I had originally thought.  I spoke to a colleague in Telluride who felt the film cheats in some way for leading the audience blind in a certain direction, but upon second glance, the subtlety of the script and direction reveals that isn’t necessarily so.

Anyway, just some follow-up thoughts on one of the very best films of the year.  I’m so happy this one came along.  I imagine it will become the most re-watched contender of the season in my neck of the woods.  I’m also glad I let it marinate a bit before seeing it again.  Ivan Reitman told me last night that the filmmakers did a general test screening reaction some point along the way and, in a somewhat unusual move, followed up with the audience 48 hours later.   All of the scores had gone up.

Staying power is a big deal.  This film has it.

→ 8 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

8 responses so far

  • 1 10-07-2009 at 9:42 am

    Loyal said...

    That’s great news. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to
    get a screening in before I head to Asia.

    Interesting, if it manages an editing nom it’ll be thematically the lightest nominee since…Finding Neverland and Wonder Boys?

    The 90s were somewhat kinder to dramedies and comedies in the editing category.

  • 2 10-07-2009 at 9:47 am

    david said...

    Eager to see Up in the Air, and A Serious Man.

    I’m wondering if either of these films has a chance at really winning Best Picture, or if making the final list of 1o is about the best they can hope for.

    I have the feeling that part of the reason the Academy expanded the Best Picture list was to diversify the field, and include certain types of films that wouldn’t have made the cut in the past. If this is the case, then a number of very deserving films might not make the cut, in favor of an inclusion of more “mainstream” titles. I wouldn’t be surprised if they throw out a couple real curve balls.

  • 3 10-07-2009 at 10:22 am

    Rob said...

    Up in the Air has a very real shot at winning.

  • 4 10-07-2009 at 10:38 am

    Marshall said...

    Not fair. You have seen it twice and I have to wait two months to see it for the first time. Oh, cruel world, thou tasteth as bitter as herbs!

  • 5 10-07-2009 at 11:05 am

    Kerry said...

    Ivan Reitman has to be one proud father seeing his son get all this attention and praise. I can’t wait to see the film as well.

  • 6 10-07-2009 at 4:30 pm

    j said...

    The films I’m dying to see are A Single Man & Princess/Frog.

    Curious, Kris, you have Farmiga as a possible in lead & supporting now. A reason? Perhaps a lack of confidence in young Ronan also from Paramount, and/oror a feeling that Up in the Air’s momentum may help pick up acting noms from 3 diff categories? Plus an ability to thus push harder for Weisz or Sarandon.

    Also noticed Cruz not being “in play” anymore, which if true I’m assuming would be because she’s more in play than before with Nine now that Cotillard’s going lead. It’ll be interesting to see people’s thoughts if indeed this “category fraud” happens for multiple films.

  • 7 10-07-2009 at 6:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    No, it’s just her performance in Broken Embraces won’t be remembered because the film is so dreadfully unremarkable.

  • 8 10-07-2009 at 10:03 pm

    Nicky said...

    I think Up in the Air has a shot at winning. It’s got critics, it will get audiences and it’s the perfect hybrid of big box office with indie sensibility that the Academy can feel good about.