Amoeblog

Coming Down in a Puff of Smoke: Up in the Air (2009)

Posted by Charles Reece, December 13, 2009 11:51pm | Post a Comment
"Hey, little girl, don't you know he's the devil / He's everything that I ain't / Hiding intentions of evil, / Under the smile of a saint. / All he's good for is getting in trouble, / And shiftin' his share of the blame. / And some people swear he's my double: / And some even say we're the same./ But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose, / I'll only live 'til I die. / We take our own chances and pay our own dues, / The silver tongued devil and I." -- Kris Kristofferson
 
up in the air poster

Unlike my blogging confrère, I somewhat ashamedly enjoyed Juno, but primarily for the comically pathetic character played by Jason Bateman. He's an artistic dreamer compromised by the bourgeois constraints of making an upper-middle class living. He's also the only basically decent adult male protagonist in director Jason Reitman's three-film oeuvre (perhaps due to being written by Diablo Cody, rather than the director). That is, Bateman's character still has some idea -- no matter how illusory -- of making music for something other than its exchange value. If his new film, Up in the Air, and first film, Thank You for Smoking, both of which he wrote, are any indication, Reitman's more interested in the bourgeois male who serves as the beguiling, devilish proponent of Capital. In the earlier film, Aaron Eckhart (who's always been the artier house parallel to George Clooney) plays the chief propagandist for Big Tobacco with absolute zeal, completely committed to the libertarian ideal of capitalism as being best when it's amoral -- let the consumer qua homo economicus make up his own mind. That such corporations pay big bucks to the rhetorical charms of such men puts the big lie to this idealization. Eckhart's character never goes beyond being a fascinating evil in the film, which keeps the audience at a distance from him, making it clear one should put identification on hold. It's for that reason that the attempted dramatic turns fall flat, even though the movie ain't half bad. This time around, Reitman places the capitalist devil in a romantic comedy, using the most seductive of contemporary stars, Clooney.

cary grant eva saint marie north by northwest   bright sided

While Clooney gets compared to Cary Grant a lot (and for good reason), one thing he's never had is a role as good as the ones HitchcockHawks and their writers used to supply -- at least, until now. Ryan Bingham is Clooney's Roger O. Thornhill, a complete narcissistic asshole with whom, nonetheless, you can't help but identify due to his charisma and tragic disposition. Whereas Hitchcock and writer Ernest Lehman provide some phony absolution for the adman Thornhill at the end of North by Northwest, Reitman and co-writer Sheldon Turner remain true to the letter(s) of their character (which might as well be 'R.O.T.,' with the 'O' standing "for nothing"). Ryan is a hatchetman for corporate downsizing, who uses his silver tongue to do what corporate bosses are too cowardly to do directly. In the manner exhaustively detailed in Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright-Sided, he uses the depraved double-speak of the positive thinking movement to make employees (supposedly) feel good about being canned -- as if it's a chance for a new beginning, rather than being cast off alone into the void. He's also a part-time self-help guru for management, who's devised a nihilist philosophy that justifies his own inability to connect with humanity except through a miserable way of making a living:

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BUT WHO WILL PLAY CAPTAIN RICHARD PHILIPS? GEORGE CLOONEY?

Posted by Billyjam, April 13, 2009 09:17pm | Post a Comment
george clooney
Sssh. Listen. Can you hear it? Can you hear the sound of dozens of keyboards in Hollywood excitedly typing at 90 words a minute to rush off story-board ready drafts of the movie version of yesterday's rescue of ship captain hero Richard Phillips? If ever there was a real news story ready for movie adaption, this is the one: the dramatic seafaring tale of evil pirates overcome by the ever-skilled US Navy SEALs, led by their brave captain in a shoot out rescue of the heroic American captain, and all set against an exotic high seas backdrop.

I am not making light of the situation, but merely observing and reflecting on the sensationalist reaction by the media to the story since the rescue news broke just a day ago. Since then, newspapers, websites, and of course TV news, talk shows, and gossip outlets have each had a field day with eye-catching headlines like HIGH SEAS RESCUE or AMERICAN HEROES. It's already like a Hollywood movie or a superhero comic book. So powerful was this seafaring tale that once the rescue news broke Sunday afternoon all the 'controversy' over Barack Obama bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia got swept aside and instantly forgotten.

Hence, the question of whether or not there might be a movie made about thiscastellano and phillips based-on-a-true-story, high seas pirate adventure is moot. Of course there will be a movie! At least one. Shoot, it's got every element you could ask for in an action-adventure blockbuster (complete with an built in happy ending -- it just needs a little love story thrown in for good meaure and even broader box-office appeal). It even has the President of the United States directly involved. Can't you just envision the Situation Room scene in the movie with the actor playing Obama overseeing the nail-biting proceedings?

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I can't stop thinking about the Oscars...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 7, 2008 10:33pm | Post a Comment

While I have been unpacking my boxes and organizing my life again, I have also been spending my time thinking about the Oscars. I was all ready to wake up at 5 am to watch Kathy Bates announce the nominees. But I was seriously so busy unpacking boxes and hanging up pictures that I completely forgot about them. I didn't really remember until my very good pal from the Haight street store called me to remind me. In case you missed them, here they are... It is a bit weird that the year I decide to move back to Hollywood is the year of the writers strike. I am of course on the side of the writers still. But it is getting a bit harder to still be on their side after all this time. I know it is selfish. But I am still growing my beard out for them at least. I have not shaved it yet.  I just really want to watch the Oscars. But I also feel really bad for the nominees. They already missed out on the trashier version of the Oscars that is the golden globes. It was really embarrassing to just have a press conference. They of course picked the most annoying people in entertainment news to host the conference. I almost cried while watching them but was too busy laughing at the hosts trying to make jokes while discussing films that they had obviously not even seen. I saw Viggo Mortensen walk into Amoeba a couple days ago as I was leaving the store. I really wanted to congratulate him on his Oscar nomination. I also wanted to apologize to him for not picking him in my nomination predictions for best actor. I at least listed his name as an alternate. He really can't be that mad at me. I also wanted to know if he was sad that he might have to watch the Oscars as a press conference from his couch instead of actually being at a real show. I do have some faith that they will work it all out. They can't really do this to me on my first year back in Hollywood. And in case you were wondering, I am almost caught up on watching all the Oscar nominated films. I think of it as homework every year. My goal is to always see the 5 best picture nominations before they are announced. I had planned on seeing Michael Clayton and Juno before then. But I am going to use that moving excuse again. I was just too busy packing up my life to go see every movie.

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