Up in the Air

George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman | R |

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COMEDY

Timing is everything. Air would be a terrific movie anytime but coming out right now—during the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression—this surprisingly jaunty comedy about a man whose job is to fire people thrums with zeitgeistian zing. Seeing it, you understand just how much a plucky, heartfelt Frank Capra comedy meant to hard-pressed moviegoers in the 1930s. To laugh is not to forget, but to feel better about feeling bad.

Clooney, as good as he's ever been (and that's saying a lot), is Ryan Bingham—a man who avoids serious relationships and is happiest when in the air flying to his next assignment. His job, and he's the best there is at it, is to go into a company and tell dozens of strangers it's adios to their paychecks. But when, at a hotel bar, he meets and falls for his female doppelgänger (Farmiga), he begins to consider changing his life.

Director-coscreenwriter Jason Reitman (Juno) knows that Air's heart is in the scenes where Bingham fires folk (some played by the recently unemployed). Their reactions, ranging from shock to tears to anger, are so raw you know it's real.

Brothers

Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal | R |

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DRAMA

It's a story as old as Cain and Abel; one sibling is good and the other is bad in Brothers. Then they exchange roles. In this moving drama (based on Brødre, a 2004 Danish film) two brothers seem to have their paths cut out—one's a model Marine officer (Maguire), the other a screwup (Gyllenhaal)—until life throws serious and even devastating curves their way. How they react, and what it means for them and those dear to them (including the woman they both love, played by Portman), is the focus of a beautifully underplayed film.

>Anna Kendrick, 24, steals scenes in Up in the Air and New Moon

YOU'RE HILARIOUSLY HIGH-STRUNG IN BOTH MOVIES.

It's fun to play characters who are so wrapped up in their petty drama when worlds are colliding around them.

DID GEORGE CLOONEY SET YOU UP ON DATES?

He was like, "We gotta find you a great guy!" He had this little checklist of requirements.

EVER REALLY FIRE ANYONE?

No! I feel like I'd start crying.

>1 IT'S DELICIOUS

This tale—about Tiana, an aspiring restaurateur in New Orleans in the 1920s—is as brimming with rich flavors as the gumbo recipe our heroine inherits from Dad.

2 IT'S NOT PREACHY

Tiana is—about time!—Disney's first black princess. Frog obliquely acknowledges what this means for her in her era, but isn't heavy-handed about it.

3 IT'S JAZZ-TASTIC

The film dazzles with its joyous musical sequences—especially those featuring Louis, a horn-blowing crocodile, who has more than a little Armstrong in him.

>• If Disney's divas competed against each other, the big winners would be ...

MISS CONGENIALITY

Snow White (in 1937), for keeping seven small men whistling while they work.

BEST RESTED

Aurora (in 1959's Sleeping Beauty), for showing that a late riser can still catch the prince.

MOST DETERMINED

Ariel (in 1989's The Little Mermaid), for swimming against her too-worried dad.

BRAINIEST

Belle (in 1991's Beauty and the Beast), for loving books and seeing past Beast's hide.

>FIRST LOOK

• Cage plays a rockin' wizard in the live-action version (due July 16) of the tale made famous by Mickey in Disney's 1940 classic Fantasia.

DO THE DANCING BROOMS MAKE AN APPEARANCE?

"Yes. We did it in a realistic way," says producer Jerry Bruckheimer. "The [brooms] are really dancing and doing their thing."

HOW ABOUT THE CLASSICAL MUSIC SCORE?

Composer Paul Dukas' original piece will likely be heard in "an updated arrangement," says Bruckheimer.

THIS IS SOME APPRENTICESHIP!

Cage plays a wizard who empowers his apprentice (Jake Cherry as a boy and Jay Baruchel as a young man). "Nic's got a young son himself [4-year-old Kal-el]; he loves children," says Bruckheimer. "He was so patient with [Jake, 13]."

ANY HIDDEN MICKEY APPEARANCES IN THE FILM?

"That's a good idea! We hadn't thought of that," says Bruckheimer. "Not that I know of."

DOES NIC WEAR THE ICONIC SORCERER'S HAT WITH THE STARS?

"No, no. He's more like a rock star."

>• The kinky drama put indie movies—and its stars—on the map

It took just eight days to write and $1.2 million to make—but Sex, Lies, and Videotape exploded onto the screen. At its Sundance Film Festival premiere, "the audience's jaws were on the ground," recalls Peter Gallagher, 54, who played a cheating husband visited by a college buddy (James Spader) with a predilection for making videos of women talking about their sex lives. Writer-director Steven Soderbergh, then just 26, became a sensation—as did Andie MacDowell, 51, who played the sexually repressed wife. Just one problem: "I spent years trying to convince people I wasn't that character—that I had friggin' orgasms!" she says with a laugh. For Gallagher, "People have come up to me and said, 'I don't like you and I don't understand why!' 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape?' 'Oh, you rat!'"

>SERIOUS MOONLIGHT

Meg Ryan (below) lights up a sometimes grating comedy about a wife who holds prisoner her two-timing hubby (Timothy Hutton). (R)

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EVERYBODY'S FINE

Robert De Niro (above, with Drew Barrymore) is gruff fun as a clueless widower visiting his far-flung adult children in a comic drama that turns cloying. (PG-13)

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>Anna Kendrick, 24, steals scenes in Up in the Air and New Moon

YOU'RE HILARIOUSLY HIGH-STRUNG IN BOTH MOVIES.

It's fun to play characters who are so wrapped up in their petty drama when worlds are colliding around them.

DID GEORGE CLOONEY SET YOU UP ON DATES?

He was like, "We gotta find you a great guy!" He had this little checklist of requirements.

EVER REALLY FIRE ANYONE?

No! I feel like I'd start crying.

>1 IT'S DELICIOUS

This tale—about Tiana, an aspiring restaurateur in New Orleans in the 1920s—is as brimming with rich flavors as the gumbo recipe our heroine inherits from Dad.

2 IT'S NOT PREACHY

Tiana is—about time!—Disney's first black princess. Frog obliquely acknowledges what this means for her in her era, but isn't heavy-handed about it.

3 IT'S JAZZ-TASTIC

The film dazzles with its joyous musical sequences—especially those featuring Louis, a horn-blowing crocodile, who has more than a little Armstrong in him.

>• If Disney's divas competed against each other, the big winners would be ...

MISS CONGENIALITY

Snow White (in 1937), for keeping seven small men whistling while they work.

BEST RESTED

Aurora (in 1959's Sleeping Beauty), for showing that a late riser can still catch the prince.

MOST DETERMINED

Ariel (in 1989's The Little Mermaid), for swimming against her too-worried dad.

BRAINIEST

Belle (in 1991's Beauty and the Beast), for loving books and seeing past Beast's hide.

>FIRST LOOK

• Cage plays a rockin' wizard in the live-action version (due July 16) of the tale made famous by Mickey in Disney's 1940 classic Fantasia.

DO THE DANCING BROOMS MAKE AN APPEARANCE?

"Yes. We did it in a realistic way," says producer Jerry Bruckheimer. "The [brooms] are really dancing and doing their thing."

HOW ABOUT THE CLASSICAL MUSIC SCORE?

Composer Paul Dukas' original piece will likely be heard in "an updated arrangement," says Bruckheimer.

THIS IS SOME APPRENTICESHIP!

Cage plays a wizard who empowers his apprentice (Jake Cherry as a boy and Jay Baruchel as a young man). "Nic's got a young son himself [4-year-old Kal-el]; he loves children," says Bruckheimer. "He was so patient with [Jake, 13]."

ANY HIDDEN MICKEY APPEARANCES IN THE FILM?

"That's a good idea! We hadn't thought of that," says Bruckheimer. "Not that I know of."

DOES NIC WEAR THE ICONIC SORCERER'S HAT WITH THE STARS?

"No, no. He's more like a rock star."

>• The kinky drama put indie movies—and its stars—on the map

It took just eight days to write and $1.2 million to make—but Sex, Lies, and Videotape exploded onto the screen. At its Sundance Film Festival premiere, "the audience's jaws were on the ground," recalls Peter Gallagher, 54, who played a cheating husband visited by a college buddy (James Spader) with a predilection for making videos of women talking about their sex lives. Writer-director Steven Soderbergh, then just 26, became a sensation—as did Andie MacDowell, 51, who played the sexually repressed wife. Just one problem: "I spent years trying to convince people I wasn't that character—that I had friggin' orgasms!" she says with a laugh. For Gallagher, "People have come up to me and said, 'I don't like you and I don't understand why!' 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape?' 'Oh, you rat!'"

>SERIOUS MOONLIGHT

Meg Ryan (below) lights up a sometimes grating comedy about a wife who holds prisoner her two-timing hubby (Timothy Hutton). (R)

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EVERYBODY'S FINE

Robert De Niro (above, with Drew Barrymore) is gruff fun as a clueless widower visiting his far-flung adult children in a comic drama that turns cloying. (PG-13)

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