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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 19 March 2017
Bit slow and no real story to it !
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This has to win a prize for the "film with the most misleading description on the DVD case." I didn't find it hilarious, tragic, brainy or romantic. And certainly not real. Apparently Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) flies round the world on business - but we only see him flying around America, a point which is laboured with the names of the cities he visits repeatedly flashing up on the screen. He loves living in hotels, collecting air miles and loyalty cards. His family come second. But as he's so content living this life, I didn't see a problem with it. There must be thousands like him. When we do finally meet his rather odd family, their own lifestyles don't seem any more aspirational than his. I kept waiting for some seminal moment, maybe an encounter with nature, or some woman who makes him decide he wants a family. But the woman he meets is exactly like himself - and when he fails to realise this fully, he is taken aback. There is very little humour, it's not tragic because I didn't care about any of the weird, unreal characters, and I'm honestly bewildered as to where the "romance" could be. To sum up, on the whole I found it irritating, boring - and both main characters were far too old to convince me that they would still be making the life choices they were.
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on 10 October 2013
I looked up dark comedy in the dictionary and it had "Up in the Air" by it. There isn't much plot to the movie, yet it keeps moving. It makes a statement about following your dreams, family, and goals as Clooney's words somehow always come back to haunt him. I had to laugh at loud when Sam Elliot came back to talk to Clooney about joining the 10 million mile club. Shades of "The Big Lebowski." I kept expecting him to call George "dude" and tell him he was his father. The movie is bittersweet at times and sad at others, although not a tear jerker. I was confused about his occupation. He is paid to come into an industry and tell the workers they are laid off. Doesn't HR fire people? Do they really hire an outside company to do that? The irony of a man who fires people for a living speaking at a conference called "Goalquest" is a bit Orwellian. The best line in the movie was during a firing that he allowed his young assistant to do. She got into trouble, so Clooney the master ax man, steps in and says, "Do you know why kids love ball players?" The old man says "Because the make a lot of money and have sex with beautiful women." Clooney responds, "No, that is why we love them. The reason why kids love them is because they followed their dream." He then convinces the man he can be a hero to grand kids by leaving this job and following his dream.
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on 12 February 2011
All the characters played their part in this film but George Clooney stood out.
Focussed, clinical,calculating, good at his job he is taken unawares by a chance encounter.
This coincides with a family celebration and his steely, self-centredness begins to crack. Is he missing something? Is his life as fulfilling as he had thought? Is there room in his life for close relationships?
I will not spoil the ending but it is not plain sailing and there is a surprising twist at the end. The acting is excellent. All the nuances are there on his face.

Up In The Air [DVD] [2009]
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on 20 June 2012
A professional downsizer enjoys his Club Class, air-mile lifestyle until a female fellow-traveller and thrusting young apprentice start to get under his skin.

Director Jason Bateman follows up Juno with another well-observed if rather less quirky take on modern lifestyle choices. This time the target demographic is the perennially mobile company man, essentially without an office and working from an endless series of executive airport lounges and anonymous chain hotels.

Ryan Bingham, splendidly played by George Clooney, has turned this professional lifestyle into the model for his entire life. When he isn't firing employees in locations all over America, he works the lecture circuit, preaching a philosophy of unburdening yourself of unnecessary baggage in order to make your life cleaner, simpler and less complicated. As such he is proud of a bachelor lifestyle that sees him a stranger to his siblings and with only a bare, one-room flat to serve as a very occasional and entirely reluctant home.

This situation begins to change when he meets an alluring, sophisticated female version of himself who is happy to share his penchant for uncomplicated hotel sex whenever their busy schedules permit. At the same time an eager junior colleague comes up with the money-saving idea of firing workers through video-conferencing from a home office location. Worried that his dream lifestyle is going to come to a juddering halt, Ryan persuades his boss to let him take the youngster out on the road to demonstrate how important it is to fire people in the flesh and not through the impersonality of technology.

Conscious of the youth of Natalie, his young colleague and his increasing feelings for Alex, his female alter-ego, Ryan begins to question the essential alienation of a lifestyle devoid of roots, commitment and responsibility. An upcoming family wedding seems like an opportunity to get to know Alex outwith their usual mileu of hotels and airport lounges while also re-establishing contact with his siblings. By the end of the wedding Ryan even seems to have made up his mind that a lifestyle change is definitely in order and a seemingly willing Alex is his perfect mate for life.

Up In The Air is ultimately more tragedy than comedy. Even in the early stages with Ryan perfectly content with his lifestyle, director Bateman emphasises the essential shallowness of his life. While not entirely unconcerned for the people he sacks, Ryan is able to emotionally distance himself from the crushing impact his decisions have on others while revelling in the anonymous, airbrushed netherworld of transient airports, stop-over hotels and comfortable executive plane seats - all of them a million miles away from the reality of the cities he never properly visits. His only real ambition in life is to be one of the few travellers to attain 10 million air miles - and even then he plans to do nothing with them.

Bateman observes all this with wry humour and a light touch, and yet there is a certain predictability to his film that makes you always realise where its ultimately going. You keep waiting for the surprise element that worked so well in Juno, but, without giving the game away, this film's supposed left-field moment is predictable, unconvincing and out of character; and it does hurt the film's overall believability.

Still, the acting is exemplary; Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are perfectly cast as muse and apprentice respectively and Clooney - ever the 1940s matinee idol in modern clothing - works wonders by making you feel for a man who should be essentially shallow and unattractive. His work when he realises his cherished lifestyle is no longer sufficient for him is impeccable and completely devoid of sentimentality.
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on 10 May 2012
I purchased Up In The Air on a whim having not knowing anything about it, never having seen any trailers, or read the novel upon which the film is based on, thinking that it would be a nice feel-good movie. Boy was I wrong! I mean the blurb warns you that the story is both 'light and dark' but I wasn't quite prepared for how negative the film was going to be. Having said that, Up In The Air is a deep emotional tale about human connection with some pretty decent acting, a sharp script, and some warm comedic moments. However, the depressing theme that forms the backbone of the film's near 2 hour runtime leads me to question how 'entertaining' it is.

George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a consultant who spends a majority of his life in planes and airports travelling the globe to fire company employees on behalf of businesses who are too scared to do it themselves. From the off it is clear that the only thing that matters to Clooney is having the freedom to clock up his air miles and having his travelling expenses covered. As long as he has these things he is content in his little bubble, able to ignore the emotional trama of all his victims, and indulge in casual sex relationships with anyone he chooses. That is until he meets Vera Farmiga's character: an exact mirror image of himself in female form. Through her, Clooney learns that his self-reliant philosophy might be flawed and it is possible to form a meaningful connection with someone else after all.

To all my fellow George Clooney doubters (believe me the only previous film I've ever been able to stand with him in it was From Dusk Till Dawn) worry ye not, even I was quite impressed with his acting talent here. When Bingham is eventually grounded from his job Clooney does such a great job of convincing you how much he cherishes his life in the clouds that you can really feel the devastation that hits him at having his world taken away from him and actually having to stay at 'home' for a change.

But this is far from the saddest thing that happens in this film. The story is covered with moments of gloom and sorrow. The sparse bits of comedy are all reserved for the first half of the film, while the second half very much focuses on Clooney's lonliness and his tragic disconnection with his own family. At two thirds of the way into the movie the downbeat direction can make it all a bit tough to stay with. Unfortunately the ending leaves a bit to be desired as well, not exactly providing a satisfying degree of closure. Despite this I found Up In The Air to be a deep and emotionally engaging tale. Clooney and Farmiga eat up nearly the whole film between them, despite a few familiar faces popping up here and there, but this doesn't weaken the movie as the chemistry between them is good.

Up In The Air shouldn't be thought of as a comedy, or a light-hearted drama for that matter, but if you just want to immerse yourself in the simple tale of a man discovering the value of human interaction in his later years, and you don't mind all the depressing stuff that goes with it, then Up In The Air is worth checking out.
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In what I thought was one of the best films of 2009, George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizer who travels the country firing employees whose bosses are too cowardly to terminate in person. He has a sideline as a motivational speaker, extolling the virtues of a lifestyle free of relationship or dependency, but his real interest is the accumulation of frequent flyer miles (one of the delights of the story is the contrast between his fierce adherence to the airline's loyalty scheme and the way in which he's rewarding the loyalty of the people he's seeing every day).

The part is written so well, and Clooney is such a good actor, that you start out feeling that Bingham's life is one worthy of emulation (there's a classic early scene - set to a soundtrack item called "Security Ballet" - in which he manages to make the debilitating and degrading process of going through airport security appear cool, poised and sexy). Having drawn you in to the story so completely, you're then reminded of the flaws in his choices through his encounters with the youthful, optimistic Natalie, the bold, mysterious Alex and his semi-estranged family. Ryan's not a bad man, just a mistaken one - and the way in which we stay with him as his initial dedication to an attachment-free life is shaken is proof of Clooney's sympathetic portrayal of this unpromising character. This is a great film: funny, engaging and subtly beguiling, centred on a terrifically stylish performance by Clooney and able support from Vera Farmiga's Alex and Anna Kendrick's Natalie.
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on 29 September 2015
Maybe the most mature and balanced comedy by an expert like Jason Reitman. Up in the air is light and apparently undefined like air and clouds themselves.
It starts like an acid satire of nowadays working mentality, then it turns to a more intimate comedy and becomes a bittersweet drama about lonely people in a cold world.
And you follow the flow just enjoying and sharing their little moments, their questions without an answer, and the spark of humanity and positivity that still can come out from little people like them.
Actors are truly engaging and loveable, and the director's style, although apparently soft and focused on actors and situations, is smart and able to switch moods and atmosphere, in order to let us live and feel all the range of emotions and situations condensed in this little story
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on 13 October 2014
Jason Reitman of 'Juno' fame tells us about an executive who has set out to become a travel legend by rushing from airport to airport, firing people inbetween. How do you feel when you finally get the supreme reward, a medal for the 10th million miles traveled ?
Well, sort of queasy. What is the meaning of it all ?
George Clooney is here at his best. Seemingly never acting, just being himself. Master of his art. The most interesting character is undoubtedly Anna Kendrick who evolves from perky, know-it-all Natalie - a supporting role at best - to a lead actress in her own right.
I love her face, because it mirrors all sorts of emotions without even moving the lips. Anna Kendrick has a remarkable face and she definnitely knows how to use it.
Not a great movie, but very good entertainment.
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A smart comedy and one of Gorgeous George's best films. (Isn't life unfair. The yanks get Clooney, we're stuck with Galloway.)

Clooney's an executive down-sizer, someone who jets around on behalf of his company doing the dirty work of sacking the unwanted. He takes a fair bit of pride in his job and in the finesse with which he glides through airports and hotel lobbies. His big goal in life: racking up ten million frequent-flier miles.

Then two women enter the story and he starts seeing the world through their eyes.

It may sound like a downbeat comedy, but it really isn't. The ending is thoughtful without being didactic. Fact is though, Clooney's character is basically happy until the ladies get to work on him, persuading him their priorities ought to be his.

Anyway, apart from some inscrutable and, I guess, supposedly hip badinage early on which went right over my head - I think the director also made Juno - and a clunky tribute to Amelie [DVD] [2001], Up In The Air is time well spent and all the actors do superbly, even those in the minor roles of the fired employees. I particularly liked the pre-wedding jitters of the husband to be, basically summarising his whole life and asking what's the point of even starting?

Smart, funny, not too predictable and with a sting in its tail. Don't measure your life in loyalty cards!
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