Up in the Air, with six Oscar nominations, opens today
There is something about George Clooney. With his lithe grace and silken smooth style, he is a true-blue movie star. His quirky grin coupled with a wry demeanour beams the reassuring message that it is just a movie, not some mind-altering, life-defining event. It is precisely this gift of understatement that effortlessly draws the audience into his body of work.
Clooney has worked in glitzy, glamorous films such as the “Oceans” films that were so brightly golden that you needed shades to just to watch it and also hefty Academy favourites. The Oscars in 2006 were a Clooney double bill as he was nominated for best supporting actor in “Syriana” based on CIA agent Robert Baer's memoirs and also nominated for best director and best original screenplay for “Good Night, and Good Luck” about television journalist Edward R. Murrow. He won for “Syriana.”
The Michael Clayton saga
Clooney again got an Academy Award nomination, this time for best actor, in 2008 for “Michael Clayton”. Clooney stalked the corridors in this legal drama making for an intensely believable Clayton — that he looked so hot in his crisp white shirts was an added bonus. Clooney lost the Oscar to Daniel Day-Lewis who won his second academy award for his portrayal of the turn-of-the-century prospector, Daniel Plainview.
And now we get to see Clooney in another Oscar favourite, “Up in the Air”. Directed by Jason Reitman, who also directed the provocative “Thank You for Smoking” and the heart-warming story about teenage pregnancy “Juno”, the film tells the story of Ryan Bingham. The film has won six nominations — direction, best picture, actor (Clooney) actress in a supporting role, (Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick) and screenplay.
“Up in the Air” is based on a novel by Walter Kirn. In the production notes Reitman says: “The book spoke to me on multiple levels. I love Walter's language which I used a lot. But as I was writing, my own life changed. I met my wife, fell in love and had a child. And in that process, Ryan Bingham also started to mature and look for more in life.”
Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert — he fires people for a living and thanks to the recession, the movie resonates at a personal level. He lives his life in hotels, airports and rental cars. All is about change just as Bingham, just short of achieving the ten million frequent flier miles landmark, falls in love with a fellow traveller.
Now he is faced with the prospect, at once terrifying and blissful, of being grounded and having a place to call home.
The movie with the promise of all the Reitman and Clooney trademarks augurs a fine evening at the movies.