Posts Tagged ‘juno’

Oscarpalooza: Not So Up in the Air

In honor of Oscar weekend, NPI is rerunning its reviews of the Best Picture nominees. Here, Josh shares his disappointment with Up in the Air:

I was very excited to see Up in the Air. I like George Clooney. As a reader of View From the Wing and a (quite inactive) member of FlyerTalk, I’m intrigued by the whole frequent-flier culture: I’m almost on my second free flight through Southwest Rapid Rewards, although I’m a little irked that they terminated their very lucrative double credit College Rapid Rewards Program. And, I thought writer/director Jason Reitman’s two previous films, Juno and Thank You For Smoking, were both excellent. Plus, 91 percent of the top critics at Rotten Tomatoes approve of Up in the Air and it’s been nominated for six Golden Globes, including Best Picture.


In his review, Roger Ebert explains: “This isn’t a comedy. If it were, it would be hard to laugh in these last days of 2009. Nor is it a tragedy. It’s an observant look at how a man does a job.” Ebert’s mostly right: Everything gets called a comedy, but this certainly isn’t one: Even Zach Galifianakis’s scene isn’t really that funny. However, I think it’s a little more than a look at how Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a “career transition” counselor (in other words, a professional firer) and frequent-flier, does his job. There’s significant focus on the character development of Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a fellow frequent-flier and lady-of-the-sky for Ryan, and Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a brainy and super-organized Cornell grad who moves to Omaha (where Ryan’s company is centered) with her boyfriend and brings new ideas with her to the company. Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: What John S Is Looking Forward To….

In this final installment Aught Lang Syne’s conclusion, John S presents what he is looking forward to in the coming decade. In case you missed it, Josh posted what he is anticipating here, and Tim posted his here. We at NPI hope you’ve enjoyed our retrospective on the Aughts.

In the Teens, I’m looking forward to….

…A Suitable Name for a Decade: Were we happy with “the Aughts”? Of course not. But we stuck with it for the sake of consistency. And even if it won’t be accurate for 30% of the decade, at least all the 2019 decade retrospectives will refer it as “the Teens.”

…The Future of Television: I’ve already touched on this, but television is currently at a crossroads. If anything, things have become more dire for the old model. Network television is apparently on its way out, and free television may be a casualty. This, of course, may have disastrous consequences: With free TV gone, shows’ budgets may be severely restricted. As a result, shows will not be able to have big casts, shoot extensively on location, or attract the best talent. In other words, the Golden Age of TV will be over.

It’s probably inevitable that television will undergo some growing pains, but I think that ultimately the industry will get stronger. The evolution away from the old network model will actually be conducive to more innovative programming. Broad hits like CSI and American Idol may suffer, but shows like Mad Men—which is already on pay-cable and maintains a large cast, original sets, and great actors—ought to be able to survive. In fact, the cable model, which is what people say we are drifting towards now, already produces most of the best television. No matter what, though, it will be fascinating to watch a medium that is hitting its creative stride at the precise moment that it faces logistical upheaval.   Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: A Bad Decade for Movies

Commercially speaking, the Aughts were an excellent decade for film. Even in poor economic conditions, box office records continued—and still continue as we speak—to be broken. Box Office Mojo’s list of highest grossing films is littered with movies from the Aughts. Much of this is due to inflation, of course, but even on an inflation-adjusted list of all films to pass $100 million in gross, 273 of 665 films—or 41%—come from this decade alone.

For those who make their living off of movies, then, there was plenty to be happy about in the Aughts. But for the audience, for those who like to watch daring and innovative films, the decade was surprisingly disappointing.

Of course, painting in such broad strokes is always a tricky game, particularly for something as ingrained and multi-faceted as film. Unlike television, cinema has been established as a medium for serious art since before I was even born, so the Aughts couldn’t really see a general creative leap of that sort. Unlike music, in which production costs are lower and output generally faster, film cannot experience the kind of rapid flourishing and integration of entire genres. Continue reading

Not So Up in the Air

I was very excited to see Up in the Air. I like George Clooney. As a reader of View From the Wing and a (quite inactive) member of FlyerTalk, I’m intrigued by the whole frequent-flier culture: I’m almost on my second free flight through Southwest Rapid Rewards, although I’m a little irked that they terminated their very lucrative double credit College Rapid Rewards Program. And, I thought writer/director Jason Reitman’s two previous films, Juno and Thank You For Smoking, were both excellent. Plus, 91 percent of the top critics at Rotten Tomatoes approve of Up in the Air and it’s been nominated for six Golden Globes, including Best Picture.
Continue reading