Category Archives: Dramedy

Movie Review: Submarine

Okay, everyone. Time to put on a scarf, thick-frame glasses, and turn your record player on. That’s right, it’s time to get quirky.*

“Submarine” is a very Welsh film directed by someone who is distinctly English, with a distinctly English sense of humor. Funny, as it begins with a note from the narrator Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) notifying the American audience that there is indeed a difference between being English and being Welsh. This is not the last time Oliver Tate will try and screw with your head in the most deviously playful way possible.


Watching “Submarine” is akin to watching a British Wes Anderson movie. Depending on who you are, this can be taken as a compliment, an insult, or something else in between. The film is filled with jabs of irony and self-awareness, yet thanks to the ideological protagonist, it mostly veers away from being pretentious.

Oliver Tate’s story is set in 1986. 15-year-old Oliver is a blend of Max Fisher, Antoine Doinel, and Alex DeLarge, minus the violent tendencies of the latter. Oliver seems to be a crafted response to these teenage anti-heroes, and his voiceover is of someone who is not aware that he is in a movie, but wishes he could be in one. At one point, Oliver imagines a small moment being captured in a zoom-in on film and low and behold, we get the zoom-in. Richard Ayoade may be credited as the director, but Oliver Tate deserves some of that credit as well.

Oliver may be precocious, but he is also like any character you would find in “American Pie,” as his foremost goal is to lose his virginity. But Oliver, who is probably too young to be this particular, won’t take just any girl. Oliver sets his sights on a girl who is neither the most popular nor the prettiest girl in school. Jordana (Yasmin Paige), like Oliver, keeps to herself. But she stands out in her bright red jacket, a change from everyone else’s drab uniforms. The color red has a big significance throughout, and with just one movie, Ayoade has already found a way to manipulate the small details on screen for his own advantage.

On the inside, Oliver is a hopeless romantic. Meanwhile, Jordana despises anything romantic. Oliver will only take her to the most decrepit places in town. Their dates, captured by Erik Wilson’s hauntingly beautiful cinematography, involve chaos and destruction. In Oliver’s head, everything is going perfectly between them. That is, until tragedy strikes in Jordana’s life, and Oliver is not there for her. She finds this an unforgivable betrayal and dumps him. Yet, he cannot forget about her. Then, Oliver is posed with one of the biggest questions involving young love: will it matter when you’re 38-years-old? Let’s wait until we get to that age to find out.

What differs Oliver from the lead of most high school movies is that he has to deal with issues well beyond what is important to the typical teenager. While trying to maintain his own relationship with Jordana, Oliver also takes on responsibility for his parents’ crumbling marriage. His mother Jill (Sally Hawkins) is falling out of love with her husband Lloyd (Noah Taylor). Lloyd, given the look of a depressed 18th century philosopher by Taylor, is a man who seems content not reaching his full potential. He is a brilliant marine biologist (probably not coincidentally, he was also in “The Life Aquatic”) who excels in research, but mumbles in front of a crowd. He likes everything to be predictable, and he feels no shame in revealing gifts before they are unwrapped. Oliver’s mother, meanwhile, may be having an affair with her former lover Graham Purvis (Paddy Considine), who is an even cornier motivational speaker than Jim Cunningham of “Donnie Darko.” Purvis adds on to the comedic edge of “Submarine,” and makes the movie into a slightly altered version of a plausible reality.

“Submarine” has a deep affinity for the ocean. Maybe it’s a Welsh thing, as the rugged shoreline sure is scenic. The ocean, very adeptly, represents everything that “Submarine” is about. The one fact Oliver remembers that Lloyd taught him about the ocean is that it goes down six miles at its deepest point. Besides that, there is not much more that we can know for sure. It is also probably symbolic for the subconscious, but even my own knowledge only goes so far.

Someone will likely post this on their Tumblr.

The title of the movie comes from the idea that submarines operate at an ultrasound frequency above what humans can hear. One submarine can never know what the other one is planning or thinking. Oliver points this out. Yet, perhaps one of the biggest marks of immaturity is the constant need to contradict one’s self. In the memorable and darkly comic sequence in which Oliver imagines how everyone would react to his death, he believes he has it all down to a T. Maybe he does have it all right. Or perhaps, as he says himself, its better to be by yourself and think about how these things will happen then to actually experience them.

“Submarine” is really the story of Oliver coming out of his shell. The self-assured performances by Roberts and Paige give the movie the heart that it sometimes struggles to find. In a lesser movie, it would have been solely about him winning back Jordana and finding true love. But this is an above par Sundance entry that is about more than what is seen on screen. Here is a coming of age story where the character doesn’t even know if he came of age; all he knows is that he has grown older.

Here is a movie that is all kinds of sad and funny. It is never funny in the cliche, fall out of your seat sense, but rather in the satisfying sense that it has humorously captured a little trinket of life quite accurately. Alex Turner, better known as the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys, is the movie’s Simon & Garfunkel: you feel like the songs could not exist without being a part of the movie, and vice versa. “Submarine” is one of the most aesthetically pleasing movies to come along in a while. It is like a cinematic museum composed of paintings and polaroids worth staring at for hours. While Oliver’s narration, which guides the story, can go all over the place and get out of hand at times, that is the way it should be. It is hard to say that any decision made by in the production wasn’t made for a reason.

While “Submarine” is rated R, I believe it is still suitable for any 15 or 16 year old to see. I probably shouldn’t be doling out advice to parents, but there is something wrong with how your kids have been brought up if they don’t swear words.


*If you feel the need to punch me in the face after reading the opening paragraph, then I would not blame you.

I have no definitive proof that the final images from “Submarine” (above) and the final images from “The 400 Blows” (below) are related, but I would be surprised if they weren’t.

Movie Review: Friends With Kids

Let’s clear one thing up right now from the trailer of “Friends with Kids”: this is not a rom-com. This is not even a comedy about love. It is more along the lines of a dramedy with some awkward laughs, and a lot of babies ruining things. Man, do children ruin everything.


The main group of friends of “Friends with Kids” like to talk. A lot. About everything. I guess that’s what 30-something Manhattanites are supposed to do. In a fancy restaurant, two couples and two best friends discuss the mundane. Platonic best friends Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) remark how much they hate the parents around them who bring their kids to a restaurant like this, to which Alex (Chris O’Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) announce that they plan to have a baby. Some brief, yet awkwardly hilarious tension ensues.

Four years later, Alex and Leslie have two kids. The other couple Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) are also knee deep in babies. Ben and Missy weirdly seem to share a brain. Alex and Leslie meanwhile, are two very different personalities. Leslie is more uptight and stern, and Alex is the complete opposite. They fight a lot, but it is always clear that they love each other. As Alex, Chris O’Dowd chews up the scenery and brings humor back to having a foul mouth. He shows off the comedic skill that he could not in his nice guy role in “Bridesmaids.”

At this point, Jason and Julie are still single. They both want children, but without marriage, as they see it tearing as tearing apart the personal well being of their other friends. On impulse, they hatch the plan to have a baby while simply remaining friends. They are both the kind of people who believe they can have it all, so they decide to take part in this social experiment. The real lesson here: never have a baby before doing your research.

Julie gives birth and at first, the arrangement works out as well as they imagined it would. Then, problems arise when they both do what they set out to do: raise a child, and date other people at the same time. Jason gives in to his shallow tendencies and dates the beautiful, but empty Broadway dancer Mary Jane (Megan Fox, who hopefully didn’t call anyone Hitler on set), and Julie dates single father Kurt (Edward Burns), who is so perfect to the point of being an absolute bore.

“Friends with Kids” is an eclectic mix of Woody Allen and Robert Altman: it combines philosophical musings on love and relationships with bountiful overlapping conversations, with a profound love of New York City. The writing is often times sharp and full of wit, and lets the conversations drag on just before their breaking point. Rarely does a movie driven more by talking than plot get made, and rarely does it ever actually work.

Romantic comedies like to ask the question a lot of whether to people can be a couple without being in a relationship. In fact, it happened twice last year (“No Strings Attached,” “Friends with Benefits”). When it comes to romance, there are two rules that Hollywood lives by: true love exists, and if two friends have sex, they will eventually fall in love. “Friends with Kids” falls under the latter rule, but goes further than that. No two friends can raise another human being together without feeling the bond of love. This is why surrogate mothers exist.

Putting an image of Megan Fox in an article is a guarenteed way to increase the amount of hits you get.

But I like “Friends with Kids,” and the fact that it doesn’t just fall under the rules, but asks questions about why they mean, and why they are even there in the first place. This is not a movie where big events happen, but rather the story unfolds in walks through Central Park, dinner parties, and ski trips.

The dialogue has a very rapid fire that can be hard to keep up with. This is why I assume that five of the six deft actors in the cast are best known for work on television. Scott, usually a great supporting actor, steps up to the plate in his first true leading role. He takes his kind, nerdy role in “Parks and Rec” and the alpha male cockiness of his role in “Step Brothers,” and uses it all for Jason. He sells his ending speech with the genuine emotional breakdown that comes along with it. Scott is one of the best actors out there today; this guy never phones it in.

A few big problems that “Friends with Kids” has is that sometimes, it does reach the breaking point on conversations. The whole movie seems to be an experiment about a social experiment but sometimes, it does drag on a little too long. There is something of an underutilization of the actors, which ultimately leads to trouble with the story itself. For example, Hamm and Wiig are gone for a majority of the movie and when they come back, their marriage is inexplicably in shambles. And why does a character rendered as meaningless as Hamm’s Ben, get the honor of giving the speech that proves to be the turning point of the movie? Someone should have watched Don Draper’s Guide to Picking Up Women.

Westfeldt provides a look on love, marriage, and family that is funny, entertaining, and most importantly, honest. The honesty part is hard to come by nowadays. It is hard to get me to see a romantic comedy, and I’ll admit that what made me want to see “Friends with Kids” most was the cast. The ending is just about what you would expect it to be, but how it gets there is much more important. This is a comedy about the reality of romance, not the movie version of it.

Movie Review: About Schmidt

It’s almost 5 o’clock on some weekday and Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is on his last day of work before retirement. He’s not so much paying attention to the paperwork on his desk, but rather for the very second that the clock strikes 5 PM and he’s a free man. Then again, this was probably what every single day of work was like for him.

I think it would be a gross generalization to say that Warren Schmidt, the titular character of “About Schmidt” is no different from me and you, as there are many things that make me and you different. Rather, he begins the movie with no unique characteristics to establish him. He is vice president of an insurance company, working in a blank office in a plain, white skyscraper. Later, we will find out this was never the job he hoped to end up with.
Warren then goes home every day from work to a wife (June Squibb) he doesn’t think he loves enough and a daughter (Hope Davis) who is marrying a deadbeat (Dermot Mulroney). The Schmidt household is a picture of lost potential.
Warren’s life post-retirement has come down to a single Winnebago, the one he will drive cross country to his daughter’s wedding. But Mrs. Schmidt suddenly, inexplicably, drops dead. This drives Warren into a second, even worse rut. But still, he must embark on that cross country road trip. Most say that long trips are best made with a companion. Well its a long road to Denver, and the only thing accompanying Warren are his thoughts.
“About Schmidt,” like just about every other Alexander Payne movie, boils down to a road trip. While his films are usually about how friends or family resolve their differences on the road, making Warren go it alone shows that this is truly a film about a man who doesn’t only need to redeem himself in the eyes of his family, but rather he must redeem himself in his own eyes. That’s why when he begins writing letters to a boy he adopted from Africa, it sounds a lot like he’s talking to himself.
“About Schmidt” certainly isn’t Payne’s best film. No, that honor still belongs to the twisted “Election.” Yet, it captures an essence and a feeling that all of his films try to convey better than anything he has ever done. “About Schmidt” shows that the idea of America lies on the road. This is a country of people who feel the need to explore, from the pioneers to Warren Schmidt. This might sound like too much of an overanalysis but once you see this movie, it’ll make sense.
“About Schmidt” shows in finest form that Payne and his frequent co-writer, Jim Taylor, know how to write natural sounding dialogue like few others working today can. The conversations feel colloquial yet relatable. No matter what, “About Schmidt” always gives off a warm, welcoming vibe, even when the characters act totally detestable.
Usually, a lone road trip would seem dull, and more like in-between time between big scenes rather than an entire movie. But Payne makes Schmidt’s trip a deep, introspective one. While most road trip stories are interesting for what the characters see, this one is most interesting for who our character meets along the way, and the moments they all share together. There is something about the kindness of strangers that can make someone want to tell them anything. Or that is, if you don’t feel comfortable saying anything to your own family.
I said it once before in my review of “The Descendants” that Payne can get established actors to go totally against type, and deliver some of their finest work. Jack Nicholson’s most familiar character is a loud, outcast rebel. In “About Schmidt,” he plays someone facing the consequences of a life of not taking any risks. It is a quieter performance than we are used to seeing from him. He unlocks something in the character that no other actor could in that he takes someone who is so plain and unextraordinary and makes him vibrant and extraordinary. Then, when he finally realizes how little time he has left, and how much of life there is to enjoy, his revelation feels earned rather than contrived.
For that main reason, the ending of “About Schmidt” feels right when it could’ve felt wrong. I am not saying that “About Schmidt” is going to change your life, as that is not the point of it. Rather, it might just make you want to look around, appreciate where your from, and then do something you wouldn’t normally do. How often does that happen?

Movie Review: 50/50

The famous cliché goes: “Laughter is the best medicine.” Humor has always been a way to cope with the inexplicable things that life throws our way. So in their first film together, director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser did the right thing and madetheir cancer dramedy one about living rather than one about dying.


In “50/50,” Adam’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) life comes to a standstill after finding out he has a rare form of neural cancer. The needy and slightly neurotic Adam is the kind of person who avoids risk; he’s too afraid to even get his driver’s license. His fear of death paralyzes him, and his dependence on the people closest to him escalates. His go-to person is his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), who is not opposed to using Adam’s cancer as a pickup line. There are also the three women in his life: his overbearing mother (Angelica Huston); his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), who stays with Adam only because she feels obligated; and his young therapist (Anna Kendrick), who probably needs to sort out her own life before she can help others.


“50/50″ isn’t exactly a cancer comedy, or even a comedy about cancer. Rather, it is a comedy about how people deal with something so dire in their lives. It makes no attempts at a cheery tone and doesn’t settle for artificial characters or a soundtrack consisting of Top 40 hits. It is also a romantic comedy of sorts with its storyline of a successfultwentysomething vying for an unlikely love interest; he even has a goofy sidekick and a burdensome mother. But what distinguishes “50/50″ from the norm is that these characters feel drawn from real life and not from the typical Hollywood playbook. They function as actual, affecting parts of Adam’s life rather than caricatures put in simply for laughs.


The reason that “50/50″ feels so personal is because, through the film, Will Reiser has documented his real-life battle against cancer. Diagnosed six years ago, he has been in remission since then. Reiser bases his humor off of everyday awkward situations and pop culture references such as: “You smell like the cast of ‘The View.’” The jokes and observations laced in his script could only come from someone who came out of a situation this bad. The film doesn’t downplay the reality of such a grave situation, and the underlying current of fear and unpredictability feel all too real.


Because Reiser is writing about himself, he rightfully doesn’t pull a sympathy card with Adam. He is, like the other characters in the film, selfish and small-minded at times. Reiser’s unabashed honesty toward his own actions is reflected in Adam’s character and contributes to the sincerity of the movie.

As Adam, whose success as a radio producer comes to a halt following his cancer diagnosis, Gordon-Levitt does a pitch-perfect job of delivering some great deadpan humor and acting both self-assured and scared out of his mind. The scene in which he shaves his head, the film’s poster image, shows him bravely taking this act as a joke. In a later scene, he breaks down. The emotional outburst is more frightening than anything you’d see in a modern horror movie, perhaps because it feels absolutely right at that point in the movie.


In the supporting cast, Rogen shows how much he has matured as an actor. As the habitually loyal Kyle, who cares deeply despite his cynical outlook on life, he is the kind of friend we all wish we could have. Kendrick is another example of a cast member who is getting better and better by the film; no longer just the girl who had that really annoying crying scene in “Up in the Air.” Her character gives off an innocently funny vibe and radiates a warm presence.


Writing and acting tend to drive this kind of comedy, with the director usually taking the backseat. However, Jonathan Levine makes his presence known, and adds something to “50/50″ that few other comedy directors ever could. While someone like Judd Apatow might keep the camera totally still during a long conversation between a group of friends, Levine moves the camera around. The blurred vision of many shots makes these parts of the movie seem more like meditative talks as opposed to witty banter between friends. Reiser writes it like a comedy while Levine directs it like a drama.


In an interview with Movieline.com, Reiser remarked that when he found out that he had cancer, he and real-life good friend Rogen dealt with it through humor. He said it might have just stemmed from the immaturity of his age at the time. But making the absolute best out of a bad situation is a strength that few have. So in that sense, “50/50″ does what movies have the rare power to do: turn mortality into something both life-changing and life-affirming. If you didn’t think an F-bomb laden R-rated comedy could pack an emotional effect, then you just haven’t seen “50/50″ yet.

Check this review out here at The Daily Orange. It is also available in print form…because newspapers still exist.

Movie Review: Greenberg

Sometimes when you’re angry at the world, it’s not the world you should be angry at, but rather, at yourself. It takes a lot to portray subtle self-loathing. “Greenberg” does just that.

Despite what you may think, “Greenberg” is far away from being a comedy. Yet with a director like Noah Baumbach, there are still traces of humor in the air.
Another surprising thing about “Greenberg” is that it’s title character, and the one seen on every poster, is not quite the main character. Who may be our real protagonist (or in my view, the first protagonist), is the character seen first in the movie. The first protagonist is Florence (Greta Gerwig). Florence is the nanny of the Greenberg family. She has potential but barely utilizes it. She seems pretty content with herself.
As the Greenberg family heads on vacation, the father’s brother Roger (Ben Stiller) comes to stay at the house after having recently been let out of a mental hospital. He’s not actually insane, he can just act like it sometimes.
With “Greenberg,” Baumbach leaves his hometown of Brooklyn and replaced it with sprawling, smog-crowded Los Angeles. While the characters of his film “The Squid and the Whale” could seem so distant even though they were always so close, the characters of “Greenberg” seem so incredibly distant both physically and emotionally. Baumbach is a great director in utilizing setting for substance. He uses it not only to show emotional distance but also to later disprove the practicality of Greenberg’s lifestyle, which is a philosophy of doing absolutely nothing.
Baumbach has also proved himself an excellent director by pulling off the littlest things with such great care. He has a few excellent shot choices that last just seconds yet are still effective. One of those might be that directly behind the ears shot of a dog walking, with the afternoon light glowing down overhead. Baumbach can also pick an excellent soundtrack.
Oh, and he’s a fantastic writer. He’s a lot like a Wes Anderson clone, in a good way. He excellently tackles egotism by showing certain people’s self-centered lives in relation to the world they inhabit. Most directors might portray narcissism through a first person perspective, but Baumbach is too creative for stooping to that.
Baumbach achieves this by telling the story loosely from Florence’s perspective. I say loosely because she doesn’t inhabit every scene and we don’t even get narration from her. She’s never as developed as Roger yet she always seems to be an overwhelming presence in the film. He even manages to balance out her own presence by adding in the perspectives of the other people involved in Roger’s life. That, there, is how you can develop a full cast of characters in under two hours.
Even with the varied cast, and even with a different title character, I am always drawn back to Florence. This is mostly because of Gerwig’s performance. She’s been in so little before this but I already think she deserves an Oscar nomination. Her character is made up of awkwardness and quirks. Yet, she avoids turning Florence into an M.P.D.G. (manic Pixie dream girl), and instead turns her into someone filled with deep pain that we’ll just never understand. Sometimes, she feels almost too real to be acting.
Then, of course, there’s Stiller. It would be dumb to say that this is his big triumphant foray into dramatic acting. Frankly, his performance as Greenberg is very similar to his performance in “The Royal Tenenbaums.” I mean nothing negative by saying this. I think though what Stiller’s performance here proves is why comedians are perfect for drama: the most important things in life are usually just too funny to take seriously. For example, Adam Sandler took all the rage he used for laughs in “The Waterboy” and just made it more serious in “Punch Drunk Love.” Stiller is always funniest when he is portraying unexplained narcissism and resentment. Here, Stiller is doing what he’s always done in movies such as “Zoolander,” “Tropic Thunder,” and even “Heavyweights.” This time, it’s just shown from a more mature angle.
What I also enjoyed about “Greenberg” is how Baumbach connects these two characters. They both just seem to be two parts of the same person. However, a little more depth is given to Roger. He is such an unlikeable character. He projects the kind of hatefulness that only an antagonist should show. Baumbach never attempts to justify his actions, but just simply show he might just learn and become a better person from the terrible things he does.
“Greenberg” is a great redemption story because a character is shown who truly needs redemption more than anyone else. However, the world around the character is never shown as being moral or flawless either. Everyone is equipped with their own set of problems. When everyone is dragged down to the same level, it is then that sympathy can be felt for an unlikeable character.
With “Greenberg,” Baumbach shows that he’s a great story teller simply because he can take the right story, and utilize it in the right way. A good film isn’t just about the story, but about how that story is handled. When it comes to turning narcissism into self-hatred and cliches into originality, look no further than the creativeness of this fine auteur.
If You Liked This Movie, You’ll Also Like: The Squid and the Whale, The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, The Graduate, Rachel Getting Married, Sideways

Movie Review: Up in the Air

I won’t go as far as to say that “Up in the Air” is the best film of our time. However, should a future alien life form want to learn about our time and culture through film, they should look no further.

“Up in the Air” is the kind of film we need right now; it’s one that allows the life of one man to mirror our very own existence.
“Up in the Air” is based on a 2002 novel of the same name. The film version is given a 2009 financial crisis twist. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate downsizer, going from city to city firing people for corporations too afraid to confront their own employees. While some might face a guilty conscious doing this job, Bingham has developed an addiction to his life on the open road. In fact, he’s spent 322 days of the past year flying from city to city.
Bingham’s air-bound life leaves him isolated from the rest of humanity, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Soon enough, Bingham’s livelihood is at stake as his company moves toward computerized communication. Only another frequent flyer (Vera Farmiga) and a new employee (Anna Kendrick) could possibly help him get used to a life on the ground.
“Up in the Air” is a rarity; it’s a film that takes a delicate subject and brings both drama and humor into it while keeping neither emotion from becoming overbearing. The film is led with a commanding performance by George Clooney, who shows a whole range of emotion with just one mournful stare. This works well as he portrays a character who must fire people without remorse, and therefore every emotion he might ever have is trapped inside of him.
While Clooney’s acting is nothing short of fantastic here (as are the rest of the ensemble’s), this is really director Jason Reitman’s show. This is Reitman’s third feature. After “Thank You for Smoking,” “Juno,” and now “Up in the Air,” Reitman has gone three for three and proves himself as something of a force to be reckoned with. He is probably Hollywood’s most versatile young director, as he can pull off a dark social satire in just about any setting. Whether that be the halls of Congress, a suburban high school, or the corporate world, Reitman just seems to know where and when to point a camera.
Like “Thank you for Smoking” and “Juno” before it, “Up in the Air” provides the in-and-out narrator bringing the audience through the painful processes of their lives. However, “Up in the Air” lacks much of the snark of his first two films and is by far his most serious one to date.
In addition, this film shows off Reitman’s talent not only as a director, but as a writer as well. No situation feels contrived, and no dialogue goes to waste. Every line feels insightful into either the experience of Bingham, or life as a whole. The ability to be both a great writer and director ultimately shapes you into a great storyteller. Nowhere is that more apparent than in this film, especially in one of the film’s final, game-changing twists which you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Quite possibly part of the reason why I think “Up in the Air” is so great is because I viewed it as a throwback to the greatest era in American cinema: the 1970s. Like a film out of the 70s, “Up in the Air” sets its story in a socially aware context, without hammering the viewer with politicized themes.
Of everything from the 70s I can think of, “Up in the Air” feels most like a film by Hal Ashby (“The Last Detail,” “Harold & Maude”), as it contains many scenes that one could find extraneous, but which do so much to develop character. One instance I can’t get out of my head is Bingham taking pictures of a cardboard cutout of his sister and her fiance in front of famous American monuments. This serves as one of the film’s funniest running jokes, and Reitman’s ability to utilize quirky characters.
“Up in the Air” also immediately made me think of “Taxi Driver,” mainly in how similar Ryan Bingham is to Travis Bickle. One might think both characters are forced into isolation by society, but it is instead their very nature to remain isolated. Clooney does the impossible in nearly channeling De Niro’s performance, minus the murderous rampages.
What could best make “Up in the Air” perfect 70s cinema is its open-ended ending. While some just want films to give them an answer, the best ones, the ones we never forget, are those that let the viewer do the thinking. This is why we go to the movies: not just to be entertained, but to be challenged. Some movies are an escape from reality, while others mirror it. “Up in the Air” certainly falls into that latter category. Its a cinematic gem; the kind of film that brings you to terms with reality but manages to impress with impeccably good writing, directing, music, camerawork, and acting. “Up in the Air” works so well because its so satisfying in basically everything it sets out to do.