Can you feel the change? In cinemas everywhere superheroes are packing away their costumes and oversized robots are powering down – our blockbuster winter is at an end and the focus is turning to the smart comedies and adult dramas that will form the basis of autumn's release schedule and, eventually, the ever burgeoning awards season. In other words it's goodbye to Will Ferrell and hello to Paul Giamatti.
The long march to the Oscars early next March is now underway and while most favourites are still unseen fancies, there is definitely a front-runner setting the pace. First previewed to an expectant audience last week at the Telluride Film Festival, Jason Reitman's Up in the Air drew fulsome praise within minutes of the credits rolling.
“It's rare for a movie to be at once so biting and so moving…” “The dialogue is incredible…” “This is one of the year's finest films…” and “Laughs and heartbreak meld seamlessly in this brilliant character drama…” were just a tiny selection of the raves it drew.
Right now the film's biggest problem appears to be deciding which quotes to blurb the movie's advertising with prior to the December release in the United States and the subsequent January 7, 2010 unveiling in Australia.
Up in the Air is Reitman's third feature, following the whip smart satire Thank You For Smoking and the oddball, but ultimately affecting, Juno. It's loosely based on a novel by Walter Kirn, although Reitman's adaptation is reportedly far from faithful. Reitman has already credited the film as being a reflection of his changing attitudes, having become a husband and father in recent years.
The film stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a career transition counselor – he fires people – who perpetually flies back and forth across America, living in hotels, pursuing a mythic total of frequent flier points and generally never regretting that he has forsaken a rounded life. His adversaries and accomplices include a venal boss (Jason Bateman), a fellow corporate traveler with a similar pre-packed lifestyle (Vera Farmiga), and a new young associate who threatens his position (Anna Kendrick).
It's four months until Australian audiences get to grips with the movie, but hopefully the trailer and brief clip (see below) – love the playful but precise back and forth in Clooney and Farmiga's delivery – will give you a taste of what to expect. Another half dozen this promising and we might have a cinematic end of year worth savouring.