Up, up and away

Posted by · 9:36 am · February 10th, 2010

George Clooney in Up in the AirBack in a November installment of Off the Carpet, I noted that, by my measure, the films of 2009 reflected a particular theme.  “I’ve always come back to one thought on this year’s slate of films: catharsis,” I wrote at the time.  “With expected exceptions here and there, in one way or another, the bulk of what we’ve seen on screens in 2009 has very much been about emotional purging, bleeding out the past and, not to be too on-the-nose with the zeitgeist connotations, change.”

I bring it up because it’s something I was reminded of while reading this Cristy Gosz piece at the LA Times, which treads similar waters but comes up with the idea that a number of the year’s films use travel as a metaphor for a character’s “visceral transformation” on the screen.

The piece takes quotes from Jason Reitman and Jon Landau (at least one more would have been nice) to buttress the thesis and ens up making a solid enough point.  It’s always interesting to note similar thematic rhythms in a given film year, however irrelevant they might ultimately be.

Writes Grosz:

…”Up in the Air” isn’t the only film this season — or even the only Oscar nominee — that uses the physical journey as a metaphor for a character’s visceral transformation. The journey in “Up” allows a reclusive old man to reconnect with the world. “Where the Wild Things Are” is about a boy who learns the importance of family through his travels. “The Road” follows a man’s trek as he teaches his son to survive. “Avatar” gives a paraplegic Marine an opportunity to travel through space and develop a love for another culture.


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2 responses so far

  • 1 2-10-2010 at 11:32 am

    Fitz said...

    Up in the Air & Avatar both connected to me so emotionally, I haven’t had such a run of great films since The Fountain, The Prestige & The Departed in ’06.

  • 2 2-10-2010 at 6:18 pm

    Marshall said...

    I heard a similar viewpoint in “The New Yorker” at the end of 2009, except the piece was about the decade in general as supposed to just the year.

    The author claimed that the decade in movies was about escapism – our best movies all dealt with being able to escape the horrors of real life to some sublimely better other existence, mirroring how we all wanted to escape an era where war, terrorism, and failing economy haunts our days. The theory got some pretty good verification from the enormous success of “Avatar” to close the decade.