Why I’m “Up In The Air”

Yesterday I finally saw Up In The Air, and as much I love (500) Days of Summer, Star Trek, Adventureland and Inglourious Basterds, I want it to win Best Picture.

My reasons are after the cut.

In the last year I personally have had my heartbroken, switched jobs, dropped out of grad school and moved back in with my parents (and let’s not even talk about all my student loans). As a country we’re still stuck in a recession, jobless rates are still high and debt is on the rise.

I was talking to my mother while we were driving home from Up In The Air and I was saying that there hasn’t really been movies about the “post-college life crisis,” as I like to call my current state, since Singles and Reality Bites (or if there have, I haven’t seen them). This year, there were movies on this topic in spades, (and no, I’m not going to discuss Alexis Bledel’s Post-Grad, because I haven’t seen it yet, and it looked bad to boot). 

The first one I saw was Adventureland and it changed my life. I saw that movie on the same day I decided to drop out of grad school and I think it had a lot to do with that decision. It was as if Jesse Eisenberg’s character was me. I mean, one of his lines goes something like “I majored in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies. Unless someone needs help resorting a fresco, I’m screwed.” I also majored in Comparative Literature. There are a few other similarities to me and that character, but I’ll not go into that here. What I will say is I  think that Adventureland did an amazing job of showing how, even if you think you have plan after graduating from college, life often has a way of not quite working out like you’d hoped.

Then came (500) Days of Summer. Not only did Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character demonstrate how after college, you won’t always be working in the field you planned on, but also how easy it is to get one’s heart broken.

This brings me to Anna Kendrick’s character in Up In The Air

I have this theory that our generation has a warped idea of how life works.

This is partly due to the way the education system works; They put you in the factory at 5 and tell you to study study study because then you’ll go to college and college is the golden key to the world. What they neglect to tell you is once you’re out of college the job market is a bitch, you might not actually have a clue what you want to do with your life and you’ll be strapped with so much debt that thinking about it makes you want to die.

The other part has to do with the way college, and life after college, has been represented, or misrepresented, in films in the last 30 or so years. You’ll meet your husband in college, oh yes, or at the very least find a relationship that’ll last you until you’re 30 when you realize he’s not the marrying kind, but have no fear because as soon as you lose him you’ll find the one for sure.

That is a pack of lies. I mean, of course life isn’t like the movies, I know this now. But regardless of how aware you are of the fictitious nature of films, there’s still a little part of you that secretly thinks maybe it will be that easy. 

Kendrick’s character sort of references this in the film at one point, when she  describes her dream partner and life. She gets a rude awakening and I thank her for it. I think if more films were made to address the rude awakening waiting the millions of college graduates every year the world would be a better place for it.

So it is for Kendrick’s character and all that she addresses that this film wins my vote.

I’ll also say  Vera Farmiga was wonderful and George Clooney is fabulous. He does things with just his face that are just heartbreaking. Jason Reitman’s screenplay and pitch-perfect direction touch on the tough subject of joblessness and the desperation that comes with, while at the same time imbuing the film with a sense of hope–a real hope, not a false feeling. This film is everything we need now and perhaps more.


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on January 11, 2010, in Review, the Academy Awards and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. what a nice multiple review! I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Wow, I’m blown away right now. Having only “known” you via Tumblr, I had no idea that there was such a articulate and well-spoken cinema lover here. I agree with your view on how life is portrayed via the silver screen and our current generation’s misconception of reality. I just saw Up In The Air this weekend and fell in love with it. I hope that it and Anna get recognized and that the Academy doesn’t favor Avatar like the internet rumors are suggesting. On a personal note, I’m sorry that you had your heart broken. It’s a personal journey that we all must unfortunately take.

  3. I really like the review. I’m a freshman in college now and I’m already starting to panic thinking about all the debt I will be in, not to mention I’m a music industry major, and that’s one of the toughest industries to find a job in. I’m scared shitless about life after college – and I agree that these movies are the best movies of our generation’s history. These movies are REAL. And you did a wonderful job broadcasting that. Good luck! Who needs grad school anyway? 😉

  4. I love the multiple reviews and the fact that you have a strong connection with those three films.

    I’ve seen all three as well and really enjoyed seeing each one but out of all of ’em, I like “Up In the Air” the most! I’m with you on the cast as well. Especially Anna Kendrick, I just wanted to give her a big hug as soon as Natalie broke down right there in front of Ryan. I also can’t wait for the Blu-ray/DVD of “Up In the Air” to see all the “Behind the Scenes” and “Making of” documentaries. Hopefully we get an awesome commentary track from all three including Direcotr, Jason Reitman!

    I’m also excited about the upcoming Oscars!

    What do you think about the Academy’s decision to honor ten “Best Film Nominations” ?

    • I love that they are doing ten this year, as long as they keep to their promise and include at least one “genre flick.” What I mean by that is, an amazing science fiction/action film like Star Trek or a flat-out comedy like the hangover. Because, really, all the other films that are vying for the spaces are all typical oscar-bait kind of films, so it seems pointless to open it up to ten if all they do is just add more of them same (even if they’re all wonderful films). Also, I love that it makes guessing all that much harder. The top 5 for the past few years, and even this year, are pretty easy to predict. But this year that leaves 5 more spots and at least ten extra films vying to fill em.

  5. Amazing post which I can totally relate to as well. The film gave me the same thoughts as well. I have been to University and left with massive debt and do not currently have a job and struggling to get anything even trying to branch out of the field too. I can also relate to (500) Days of Summer as well, that film really spoke to me as well. But Up in the Air really spoke to me like it did to you. Good to read something from someone who seems to be in a very similar situation to me. Hope everything works out for you!

    • I’m really glad you enjoyed my post. It’s sort of comforting to know that there are a lot of people stuck in this odd place in life and I really hope hollywood continues to make films that address it.

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