Monday 25 January 2010

Up In The Air

In the middle of last week I went to see ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll‘ at the pictures. An extremely well acted film about Ian Dury. Unfortunately I started to feel ill about half way through the film. I began to sweat and feel sick, but with true British pluck I removed my jumper, gritted my teeth at carried on watching. I was apparently as white as a sheet when we left at the end of the film. As a consequence I have felt unable to write about it apart from saying that it’s a good film, the music is great, it has some damned fine acting in it, go and see it!

I suspect it was just a bug I’d picked up or something I had eaten, but it was therefore with some trepidation that we returned to the cinema last night to see ‘Up In The Air‘. ‘Up In The Air’ is an amusing ‘RomCom’ starring George Clooney. It has somewhat ambiguous undertones that render it open to all manner of interpretations. Clooney plays a business man, Ryan Bingham, who spends virtually all of his year travelling the length and breadth of America for his job. Much of his time is spent flying, which is from where the film derives its title. He is a man with very few possessions who has developed a slick and efficient lifestyle to deal with the constant travelling. With very few ties he is happy with his lot (or so he thinks), to the point that he gives motivational talks about a life without ‘excess baggage’ preaching what he practices. All is going well with his world until two ladies enter his life and throw him off course in different ways. Clooney’s character is employed to visit businesses and sack people, or make them redundant. This is where the ambiguities kick in. Apparently some of those playing the bit parts of those losing their jobs had actually been in that situation. Is it right to ‘use’ people like this? Is it right to laugh at what is a sad and all too relevant situation? Is the film critical of the process? Is it overly critical of his lifestyle?

The film is most definitely a commentary on the recent financial unpleasantness. I think it is criticising the faceless way that American business deals with people as a commodity rather than living beings. Hiring and firing on an economical whim. Thank goodness I live in the EU. Other people could well see the film differently. Whilst I wouldn’t like a lifestyle like Ryan Bingham’s I must confess to wishing that my life was a little more uncluttered than it is. Perhaps one day!

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