George Clooney Month #1: Up In the Air, Burn After Reading

Up In The Air

Back in 2009 when this movie came out, I found myself eagerly waiting in the long lines of the movie theater so I could see this movie that many of my friends were raving about. People thought that this movie tugged at their heart strings so much because for some, it related to their own lives. I, however, found that the main appeal to this drama/romance movie was only the actors. George Clooney played Ryan Bingham, a man whose job revolved around him traveling around the entire country firing people to the point where he enjoys his current life style as he isn’t married and can always travel without worrying about paying a mortgage. The only issue is, there is a new hire in the form of Alex Goran (played by Vera Farmiga) who has become a potential love interest. There is one other main important character by the name of Natalie Keener who is played by Anna Kendrick who represents people who are in their youth. While Ryan Bingham isn’t married though, there are two minor characters named Kara and Julie Bingham played by Amy Morton and Melanie Lynskey respectively.

Since the movie was directed by Jason Reitman, I figured this movie would be close to perfect. There were many moments that I could relate to, such as when Ryan fired people. However that’s about all I could relate to in this movie. First of all, I’ve never heard of a movie where people travel around the country firing people. In almost all jobs, it is left to corporate branches or the owners of the business to fire people. Trying to make it seem like businesses are so inept as to fire their own employees if necessary and they have to hire someone to do it for them is what I think to be an insult. However, if I put that to the side and just focus on the romance between George Clooney’s character and Vera Farmiga’s character I still find some issues. If people find a potential love interest, but they only have a one night stand, then I don’t see how it is a love interest. It just doesn’t work. The only thing I think it has going for it is it’s depressing and the character development with their emotional changes that leads up to it shows a lot of what happens in reality. Besides this though, I find that the events that lead up to it are unrealistic. This was before I knew that this was originally a novel written by Walter Kirn, though I still had similar feelings towards the book as I did towards the movie. I rank the movie at a 6 out of 10.

Burn After Reading

Written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, this movie is a comedic mystery with touches of drama mixed into it. Two gym employees somehow get their hands on the memoirs of a former CIA agent. Instead of turning it in to the CIA they instead try to sell it so they can get money for their own reasons. There are several characters that are involved in this plot, including celebrities like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand who play Chad Feldheimer, Harry Pfarrer, and Linda Litzke respectively. Chad Feldheimer and Linda Litzke are the two gym employees who get their hands on the former CIA agents memoirs while George Clooney’s role is more of a supportive role. The ex-CIA agent who ultimately starts the plot line off, Osborne Cox, is played by John Malkovich. There are several other roles that are included, including Osborne Cox’s wife, played by Tilda Swinton and Harry Pfarrer’s wife played by Elizabeth Marvel.

There are many characters that you have to try and keep up with in this movie. In fact, it’s very difficult to on several occasions. I’ve gotten lost several times trying to keep up with it, and trying to understand the supportive roles as well as the main characters. George Clooney’s role as someone who is constantly paranoid though he’s creating something that didn’t make much sense to me. His character’s fixation on sex was also something bothered me but since it was part of his character’s role, I am able to shrug it off. However, the interactions between the main characters didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either. There was constant swearing in it which took away from the charm that was there. The romance scenes that were there had almost no feeling to them and the comedy that was there wasn’t funny. They tried too hard and it caused the movie to lose any natural feel. Some characters have no point in the film except to be a distraction from what the plot is supposed to be. The ending, which I won’t give away, is also a let down for any tension that they try to lead up to. I’ve known that Ethan and Joel Coen have directed some pretty amazing films. However, this just isn’t one of them. I give this film a 3 out of 10. Perhaps the next film I see that is directed by them will be better.

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