Up in the Air / The Lovely Bones / Fantastic Mr. Fox

Up in the Air

Almost as bad as that other aerially-oriented movie where Tom Hanks played a foreign guy stranded in JFK.

Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) directs George Clooney in this tale of a man who flies around the country and fires people because their bosses are too scared to do it themselves. Co-written by the director from a novel by Walter Kirn—who also wrote the novel “Thumbsucker,” on which Mike Mills’ excellent 2005 film of the same name is based—Clooney’s character is wholly consumed by his job, which, along with traversing the country, and living in airports and hotels 95 per cent of the year, defines his life. This makes him an incredibly uninteresting character around whom to base a film. When he meets a fellow airborne business type played by a well-cast Vera Farmiga, the film inevitably attempts to both inject romantic elements and balance Clooney’s character’s life out by reintroducing him to ‘things that really matter in life,’ like his family. There’s also a conflict between Clooney and a young college grad (a slightly on-edge Anna Kendrick) newly hired by the company who thinks it’d be a good idea to revolutionise business processes and just fire everyone by tele-confrence. Only it’s pretty hard to care about the problems of someone this boring. A final missive is fired when, hammering Elliott Smith’s corpse into the ground, the film egregiously and unforgivably makes use of his “Angel in the Snow” during a scene that doesn’t carry anywhere near enough emotional resonance to deserve it.

The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s disconcertingly-best-selling novel replaces depth of character with objects and people around characters, and thus lacks any real emotional centre. Stanley Tucci’s murderous-rapist-next-door is genuinely frightening on occasion, but the laughably mannered set design, Jackson’s affected direction, and his and wife Fran Walsh’s largely ugly, forced dialogue make the film so frequently over-the-top and manipulative that it verges on genre pastiche.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Hipster auteur Wes Anderson’s stop-motion film utilises only the opening and closing thirds of Roald Dahl’s story—the middle is wonderfully filled with Andersonisms like the British Invasion soundtrack, lovingly-crafted sets, costumes and exquisite attention to detail. Features the voice talents of Anderson regulars Jason Shwartzman, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson alongside Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Jarvis Cocker, Meryl Streep and George Clooney. Thoroughly enjoyable for young and old alike.

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