"Up In the Air" Lands on Its Feet


A slick, cute, diverting, superbly-acted film but also an empty one due to the picture's raison d'être: a one-trick pony concerned solely with lack of commitment.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) works for a company that steps in and fires long-time employees of other companies when their managers find it difficult to perform the task.  Bingham is rarely home, spends most nights in hotels and has racked up millions of frequent-flyer miles as a result of his constant traveling. We assume that Ryan has one-night hotel adventures with women he meets on the road and rarely sees the same woman on more than one occasion.

During the film, two special women enter his life.  One is a fellow worker, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who is a trainee learning firing techniques from Bingham.  When she enters the film, she has introduced the initiative of firing people over video conferencing, thereby rendering Bingham's tactics and lifestyle obsolete. The other is Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) whose job also requires her to fly around the country. Alex Goran performs the role superbly. Alex and Ryan meet and their tenuous relationship soon deepens. He takes her to his family's home where his younger sister, Julie (Melanie Lynskey), is getting married. His older sister, Kara (Amy Morton), is staying at a hotel having just separated from her husband.  The attachment between Ryan and Alex continues to grow during this time, and their walks and discussions reminded me of the scenes between Katharine Hepburn and Rosseno Brazzi in "Summertime."

I won't discuss the dénouement which for me was the only truly emotional moment in the film.  I may have spun the story too enticingly; nevertheless, it provided a diverting evening at the theater which hasn't happened often in recent weeks.

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Ed Koch was mayor of NYC from 1978 to 1989. He's credited with restoring fiscal stability to the city and creating affordable housing. He's also a film buff. More

Mayor Koch saved New York City from bankruptcy and restored the pride of New Yorkers during his three terms as mayor from 1978-1989. He restored fiscal stability by placing the city on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget. He created a housing program that provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing and created New York City's first merit judicial selection system. Prior to being mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. He was drafted into the Army his last year of college and served with the 104th Infantry Division. He received two battle stars and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. He received his LL.B. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and hosts a call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR). Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television and is the author of ten autobiographical books.
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