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Road to Oscars – Up & Up in the Air

05 Mar

UP
2009
Directed by: Pete Doctor
Cast: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Delroy Lindo, John Ratzenberger
Genre: Animated
Rated PG for Some peril and action

Oh Pixar.  Can you do no wrong?  I’m not sure what is going on up there in Pixar-ville, but most other studios need to take note.  Pixar does it right.  They are most assuredly in a class all on their own.  For those still unsure, I’ll come right out and say it.  I loved this film.  In fact, there hasn’t been a Pixar film that I haven’t enjoyed.  It appears that the folks at Pixar put a great deal of importance on the story, something most other studios seem to have forgotten about.  This is evident in the way a studio markets their animated pictures.  Most of the time, an animated film’s poster will feature the names of every A-list actor lending a voice to the film.  Not Pixar.  They put such stock in story and animation, that the voice actors only add to the films eminence.

In a first for a Pixar film, the viewer is instantly introduced to reality in the death of one of its characters.  After his wife of many years dies, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America.  He ties bunches of balloons to his house, and sets off on an adventure of a lifetime.  However, unbeknownst to him, he has inadvertently picked up a stowaway in Russell, an 8 year old Wilderness Explorer.  Together, they embark on a journey full of talking animals and an other unexpected surprises.

The film originally was released theatrically in 3D.  However, the film needn’t be seen in 3D in order to appreciate the fine talents of the folks at 1200 Park Avenue.  One can simply sit back and enjoy the film for what it is;  An excellent piece of work from screenwriters Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson.  You’d be best to give this DVD/Blu-ray a spin today.  You’ll certainly be glad that you did.

Rating = ***** / 5

UP IN THE AIR
2009
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Cast: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Rated R For some language and sexual content

I am a fan of Jason Reitman’s work.  I enjoyed his freshman take on Big Tobacco in “Thank You for Smoking”.  His sophomoric follow-up, “Juno” was only strengthened by the excellent script from Diablo Cody.  For his third time at the plate, he hits one out of the ballpark with “Up in the Air”, a script he’d been working on for over 7 years.  In a strange twist of fate, the film about a corporate downsizing expert (Clooney) tasked with traveling around the country to notify people that they’ve been fired from their jobs couldn’t have been timed any better.  Couple that with the second story of Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, suffering from a phobia of committing to a monogamous relationship (ahem, another twist of irony?) and you have yourself a true winner that resonates with audiences both young and old.

The coupling of Clooney with Anna Kendrick is spectacular, bringing tension and camaraderie reminiscent of the screwball comedies of yesteryear.  At moments I felt as though I were watching the reincarnation of Grant/Russell or Grant/Hepburn.  The witty banter Reitman writes for Clooney/Kendrick, and the success at which they pull it off, is something I hope other filmmakers take note off.  Add to that mix the wonderful performance by Vera Farmiga as Clooney’s love interest, and an always welcome appearance by the talented Jason Bateman, and this home run is a grand slam.

The fact that Reitman chose to film actual people from middle America who recently found themselves standing in the local unemployment line only served to add an air of credibility to this film.  SPOILER ALERT:  At one point, even Bingham finds himself on the receiving end of the pink slip due to technology, a point that also no doubt resonates close to home for some in the viewing audience.  And to be honest, I didn’t see the end coming until it was upon me, which was very welcome indeed.  Seeing Bingham’s realization and transformation unfold was easy to embrace and atypical of other Hollywood fare.  I certainly would recommend this film to others.  I don’t think you will be disappointed in the least.

Rating = **** / 5

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Posted by on March 5, 2010 in Movies

 

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