Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Up in the Air

I watched last year’s movie Up in the Air on DVD.  I don’t have much to say about it’s major themes other than it was a good movie and deserved an Oscar nomination a heck of a lot more Avatar did, not that that’s saying much.

I did want to mention two things:

  • I’ve been through a few airports this year.  Not, of course, as many as George Clooney’s character saw in a typical week.  But Clooney’s (or any other character’s) airport experience as portrayed in the movie was unrecognizable to me.  Every major airport through which I traveled – Dulles, Heathrow, Honolulu, Frankfurt – was a nightmare of chaos.  (Frankfurt was a standout in this regard.  It looks like dystopian sh!thole and was the only airport in which I felt physically unsafe.)  The only airports that offered anything like a positive experience was Keflavik and Φ’s middling city’s airport in flyover country.

    Yet we repeatedly see Clooney walking straight up to a automated kiosk, swiping a single card, pushing one button, and getting his boarding pass!  And the “non-preferred” line is only eight people deep?  What planet is this?

  • George Clooney (age 49) travels with Anna Kendrick (age 25), who has the voice and body language of a teenager.  This may not be an act considering she plays a teenager in this year’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  Their relative age difference is a sub-theme of the movie, as you might expect.  But Clooney embarks on an affair with Vera Farmiga, a woman presented in context as having maturity comparable to Clooney.  Yet Farmiga is only 37, and clearly younger than Clooney.  (We see Farmiga naked from behind.  We also see Clooney’s bare chest in the same scene.  Clooney is in very good shape for his age, but those dozen years make a difference.)

    I think we are so used to seeing actresses underplaying their ages so much that we forget how wet-behind-the-ears 25 actually is.

  • A couple of times, Clooney is shown swimming laps in hotel pools. I was struck by how seldom movies show people exercising. There are exceptions, of course. A movie about a competitive athlete will show the training regimen (think Rocky). A movie might show a fat person exercising for the comic incongruity. But generally, we don't see it. Consider, for a moment, the Lt. Daniels character in The Wire. Nobody looks as good as Lance Reddick does without spending a couple of hours a day working out, but while The Wire gave him a few shirtless shots for eye-candy, never once did it show him, say, lifting weights.

    My impression is that in reality most upper-middle-class men engage in some kind of exercise, but the only TV show I can think of that portrays exercise as a regular part of the characters' lives is Men of a Certain Age, where the three principal characters hike together almost every episode.

3 comments:

Dexter said...

In Burn After Reading, Clooney is a compulsive runner. Wonder if they show the old guy exercising a lot to indicate his youth and vigor?

Professor Hale said...

If would still be a compulsive runner, if I still had knees.

Φ said...

Dexter: that's a great insight! Showing older characters exercising is necessary shorthand for not-quite-over-the-hill. OTOH, it doesn't really explain the reluctance to show 30-something characters exercising. I'm guessing that H-wood has focused-grouped the imagery and determined that it sends a negative signal to female audiences, but I don't really understand why this should be.

Prof Hale: I think I'm younger than you, and I never went to Ft. Benning, so I still have my knees. But I've discovered that keeping up my intensity becomes harder, not just physically, but psychologically, the older I get.