BluRay/DVD Reviews

UP IN THE AIR

By • Mar 30th, 2010 •

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UP IN THE AIR was 2009’s best film in my humble opinion, followed in close pursuit by THE HURT LOCKER, STAR TREK, and TAKEN. I also felt that George Clooney’s performance was more nuanced and satisfying than anything he’d done previously except for MICHAEL CLAYTON. A deft, charming, wicked piece of work. And like Renee Falconetti in Carl Dreyer’s THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, he never wears make-up.

I guess the lion’s share of praise belongs to Jason Reitman, who wrote (with Sheldon Turner), co-produced and directed the film with the same strong sense of irony and satire that he brought to THANK YOU FOR SMOKING and JUNO. But he deserves equal credit for assembling his superb staff. The editing is exhilarating, starting off with real footage of irate workers who’ve been given their pink slips. The film feels as if it’s in a constant state of montage, appropriate for the never-ending journey of its protagonist, a hatchet-man for the corporations of America whose chief honchos lack the guts to fire their employees. The sound design is pervasive, enveloping us in the ephemeral sense of ‘plane tone’. All this is captured with sharp yet contrasty (a bit more contrasty than I remember in the screening room) cinematography of Eric Steelberg, and all of the above is rendered handily by the DVD transfer.

The commentary track is swift and informative. Reitman keeps the pace moving, as he did with the film, and his AD and DP chip in facts and anecdotes when called upon. It’s both fun and enlightening, practically all you could ask of a commentary track. For instance, Reitman complements Rolfe Kent as being the best composer he knows at creating mood without forcing it down our throats – giving the example of an airport scene which is supposed to be comedic: the music reinforces the mood but isn’t trying to be outright funny in itself. I agree. And even though I especially liked the found songs here, the original music was extremely effective.

Worth mentioning is the final salutation on the commentary track. The director, having made a career on his own, for this film relished the opportunity to work with his father, Ivan (director of GHOSTBUSTERS), who co-produced with him. It’s a loving tribute.

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