Far closer in spirit and structure to his debut flick, "Thank You for Smoking," than "Juno," Jason Reitman's latest effort clearly is a step up in his increasingly exciting film career. Undeniably moving and heartfelt, "Up in the Air" is one of the year's best and a surefire awards contender for George Clooney, Reitman, and perhaps Vera Farmiga.
The film has been scorching through Toronto, leaving virtually everyone who's seen it gushing about it as the best thing since Billy Wilder helmed "The Apartment." Okay, maybe not THAT much gushing but close.
"The Apartment" comparison is actually a pretty apt one. There's a confidence and yes even grace to the filmmaking here that's altogether shocking to see in a big studio release. That being said, I'm here to temper your enthusiasm just a tad. Calm down, "Up in the Air" is a lot of things great. It's smart. It's wise about the world we're living in today. It's impeccably cast from the always engaging Vera Farmiga right down to JK Simmons in a fleeting but spot-on scene.
It's also not "Titanic" or "There Will be Blood." It might rock your world but it won't change the way movies are made. I only mention this because the hype is building so quickly for this one that you should know what you're getting into.
At the center of "Up in the Air" is a humdinger of a role for Clooney. In a bizarre way this feels a bit like Clooney's "The Wrestler." Ryan Bingham is an alterna-universe George. Smooth as silk. Funny, confident and seemingly content with his unique place in the universe. He's also, much like Clooney to this point in his life, foregone marriage and kids, and made no apologies for it. There's certainly a resonance to the performance knowing what we know of Clooney, the man. It's as fine a performance as he's given. Right alongside Michael Clayton.