A guy I’ve known for a while and who knows how to write — he calls himself Marlowe — has seen Jason Reitman‘s Up In The Air (Paramount) at a recent test screening. (Two weeks ago in the L.A. suburb of Westlake Village, he says.) I’ve spoken to him and believe he’s real. The George Clooney-Vera Farmiga film will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and open I-don’t-know-when in the fall. Here’s his review:
“Let me begin by saying that this summer has been a bust. The only highlights being smaller films like Moon and The Hurt Locker. The major tentpoles have all had problems. Even one of the better ones like Star Trek has some glaring plot problems. So when something like Up In The Air comes around it restores my faith in film.
“This is only Reitman’s third film and he’s showing such a level of confidence here that it’s almost scary. Where does he go from here? UITA is going to be on everyone’s Ten-Best list, and Clooney will be nominated for Best Actor. Clooney has never been so good. In fact, I feel he was born to play this character, a charmingly aloof business-track smoothie called Ryan Bingham.
“This is the Clooney who dashes around Italy on a motorbike with an Italian lap-dancer strapped to his back. This is a character Clooney was born to play, always impeccably dressed, meticulous in his words, basically a throwback to the great stars of yesteryear. In the film he plays a professional whacker…yup, the big companies fly Clooney around when they don’t have the balls to fire a long time employee and he’s good at it. He’s got it down to a science.
“And he lives his life up in the air. He has no attachments, he has an empty apartment, he’s a stranger to his family, nothing tethers him to this world… and that’s the way he likes it. His only goal in life is to accumulate enough air miles so he can get the top secret super-platinum card given to you by the pilot himself.
“Of course, a complication arises. Clooney/Bigham’s way of life is threatened when a young female whipper-snapper (Anna Kendrick) strolls into the office and comes up with a way to save the company loads of money by grounding Clooney and the staff of flying assholes whose job it is to fire you. The solution: fire people by web-conference, which is the next level of demeaning. Clooney freaks at the notion of not being able to accumulate his air miles and, in a great scene, he completely schools the young Ivy-league girl on why firing people over a web camera will not work.
“Clooney is masterful in this scene. Cary Grant crossed with Warren Beatty. He’s amazing to watch. At the heart of the film is the notion of what drives us in life and what’s most important to us as human beings. Clooney is a superficial jerk who meets a superficial lady (Vera Farmiga), and they strike up a very modern relationship. They have palpable chemistry in the film. They meet all over America in swanky hotel rooms with no strings attached. I don’t want to spoil the film but by the end Clooney’s character wants more from life and from the girl. Although he may be too late in making these needs known.
“I saw the film two weeks ago, and I still haven’t been able to shake it. It was a test screening but it was a near perfect film, except for one minor dream sequence which was a little on the nose. In the film, Clooney says he’s crisscrossed the world so many times that he could’ve gone to the moon. Well, you can guess what the dream sequence is: Clooney dressed like an old-timey astronaut floating up through buildings in downtown Omaha. It’s trippy but felt out of character for the film.
“The film tackles all the big questions of life, prime among them: What is the meaning of life? It’s relevant because it deals with corporate downsizing. There’s so many levels to the film and I don’t want to spoil to much. Basically, UITA is an absolutely amazing film. Love it and can’t wait to see it again. As a former Montrealer, it’s great to see the Montreal-born Reitman hitting it out of the park or, in hockey parlance, ‘scoring a hat trick.’
“Oh, and there’s a great ass-shot in the film….astounding.”
Update: As I told Drew McWeeny a little while ago, I trust that this review is legit. I know the name of the guy who wrote the review, I have his phone number and I’ve spoken to him. He’s told me he’s a screenwriter and he sounds cool over the phone. I know him for having liked his writing before and especially enjoyed a savage review he sent me last year of Hancock. I don’t think he’s a plant. On top of which I’ve read about half of the Up In The Air screenplay and thought it was quite good.