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“UP IN THE AIR” 2009 FILM

I became interested in this film when reading the conclusion of Melissa Gregg’s “Work’s Intimacy” P.172-174. This American comedy-drama stars George Clooney, Vera Farmigo and Anna Kendrick and is directed by Jason Reirman (“Juno” and “Thank you for Smoking” Has anyone seen the latter film? Would you recommend it?)

This film will be ideal for my last week of teaching with Year 13 before they go on study leave. It will further allow me to emphasise HESP (Historical, Economic, Social and Political factors) a this text is firmly set in the context of the current financial crisis. Gregg comments: “The film had an eerie synergy in its content and release date in the midst of the global financial crisis”. Some film critics comments allude to the specific socio-historic context in the film:

Claudia Puig “It’s tough to capture an era while it’s still happening, yet Up in the Air does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity … capturing the nation’s anxieties and culture of resilience.”  (USA Today December 4, 2009)

Jonathan Romney “Its cynical wit almost places it in the Billy Wilder bracket: Up In The Air is as eloquent about today’s executive culture as The Apartment was about that of 1960. It is a brutal, desolate film – but also a superb existential rom-com, and the most entertaining lesson in contemporary socio-economics that you could hope for.”(The Independent, January 17, 2010)

Stephen Saito “It touches on larger themes of mass unemployment, cultural alienation and technology as a crutch. But ultimately, it’s really an expertly done character study that’s a dramatic change of pace from director Jason Reitman’s previous two films.”  (IFC September 12, 2009)

The critic Saito highlights how effectively the film captures the encroachment of technological developments and how they can diminish the need for human workers.. This is summarised by Gregg on P.173: “…the dramatic arc of Up in the Air is based on the looming introduction of a technological innovation that will transform Bingham’s life forever. A young hotshot business graduate finds favour upon joining the firm when she suggests that webcams would make job terminations easier and more cost-efficient in future. The imminent roll out of this convenient online technology threatens to put an end to Bingham’s pleasantly rootless existence as a citizen of the air.”

On further researching this film, I was very interested to find that “real” people were interviewed and used in the film to capture the “reality” of the delivery of this devastating news to the fired employee. While in St. Louis and Detroit filming, JasonReitman advertised in the newspaper: he asked if people who had recently lost a job would want to take part in filming a “documentary”. He sais the topic was job loss and specifically stated  “documentary” so that real people who had had this experience rather than actors would respond to the advert. In response, people of different ages, races, and genders showed themselves willing to speak honestly about what happened to them personally.(San Jose Mercury News, December 3 , 2009)  Reitman was amazed to receive a startling amount of responses: twenty-two made it into the film. (see Paramount end credits)

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