“Up In The Air”

I had some preconceptions about Up In The Air, mainly that it would be a Miserable White Guilt Showcase, in which millionaire actors and filmmakers pretend to care about poor people.  Thankfully, it’s not about that (too much, anyway), and it turned out to be better than I anticipated.

George Clooney gives another solid performance in a film that mirrors our current situation in some way.  It’s his calling card, and he Clooneys the hell out of this movie. Vera Farmiga plays a hot older professional lady who gets boned by The Cloon every now and then. 

One annoying thing that director Jason Reitman does is use people that were actually fired to play the employees that Clooney’s character has to fire.  I guess this was to add verisimilitude, but it mainly interrupts a film that’s essentially an actor’s showcase with blips of crappy acting. (I feel bad about them getting fired, though.)

Another strike against the movie:  the neverending Emo Singer-Songwriter soundtrack.  That last act, especially, seems to overdose on Hypersensitive Douchebag Folk Music.  The third strike, and then I’m out: After watching the movie, I read that the running time was 109 minutes.  It feels at least two and a half hours long.

Up In The Air is a good film, much better than most, that I won’t be rewatching for several decades at least.


“The Hurt Locker”

Conan’s last episode was great, wasn’t it?  I hope his show on Fox has the same loony abandon of the last couple of weeks.  That’s when Conan’s at this best, not doing this lame “I’m Everybody’s Friend” schtick that NBC executives want from their Tonight Show hosts (and which Jay Leno is happy to bend over and provide; UGH, that guy).  See you in the fall, buddy.

The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is a badass display of badassery.  It’s set in Iraq, but it doesn’t have any “THIS DAMN WAR!!!” monologues, save for a brief bit in the third act.  It doesn’t have an anti-war message; it’s more of a “fucking character study” (TM BW).

I’m making it sound like Ordinary People in the Desert, but trust me, it’s non-stop action, tension and suspense. Jeremy Renner stars as a guy that gets off on defusing IEDs.  The opening title states that “war is a drug,” and Renner’s character is a hardcore junkie.  The entire movie is a series of tense stand-offs and confrontations.  The Hurt Locker is awesome.

Renner’s the main highlight, but there are several cameos by excellent actors, as well as Evangeline Lilly from Lost, who continues her award-winning streak of being the Worst Character In A Terrific Film or Television Series.  Actually, that’s too harsh.  She has maybe two lines.  She’s not bad, just useless.

There’s some lame dialogue in The Hurt Locker.  There are several variations on “YOU’RE RECKLESS AND OUT OF CONTROL, YOU RENEGADE LOOSE CANNON!”  However, the endless setpieces are incredible, and Renner’s character is psychotic without being a caricature.  I loved how he’d do something creepy then laugh and say he was just kidding.

Best action film of the year, forrrr sho.

“Rolling Thunder”


Rolling Thunder, from 1977, is a revenge picture starring William Devane as Major Charles Rane, a Vietnam POW that comes back to an America that has changed in his absence. In one of his first roles, Tommy Lee Jones plays Sergeant Johnny Vohden, a fellow POW who returns to the US with Major Rane. After they return, Major Rane is presented with 2000 silver dollars, one for each day of his absence. This leads to a robbery, some killing, and most importantly, REVENNNNNGE!!!!

For great low-budget action films, you can’t beat the 70s, and this movie is one of the decade’s high points. Devane is remarkable, and I also liked Linda Haynes as the gal that loves the Major. She reminded me a bit of Laura Linney. IMDB shows she stopped making films in the early 80s. Too bad.

Tommy Lee Jones is memorable in a smallish role. Oddly, he gets second billing, but Haynes appears in the movie much more. However, when it’s time for Jones to help the Major get bloody vengeance, HOLY CRAP.

I recorded Rolling Thunder on Tivo from TCM long ago, and finally got to watch it. It doesn’t appear to be on DVD, but if you can find it, grab it! If I can find a link, I’ll post it. This one is worth buying.