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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 12, 2009 at 4:41 AM

“Up in the Air” and down on the ground in Toronto

George Clooney is having a very good festival. I know this because his whereabouts are being meticulously documented by the local papers (the Globe & Mail reported this morning that he dined at a one-and-a-half star Italian restaurant and had whole wheat spaghetti), and because he’s got two very enjoyable movies here. I mentioned “The Men Who Stare at Goats” earlier, but I think the real hit is “Up in the Air,” Jason Reitman’s charmer of a comedy about a man who fires people for a living, and is obsessed with accumulating air miles.
This is Clooney in rapid-fire, smart-movie-star mode, and he plays off against two terrific actresses who’ll soon be much better known: Vera Farmiga as his wry love interest and fellow road warrior, and Anna Kendrick as an eager, determined (she’s got a Reese Witherspoon-like chin, and knows how to use it) young colleague. The dialogue, as in a scene in which Clooney and Farmiga exchange suggestive banter over their air-rewards programs, crackles like a classic screwball, and the message (though it gets a bit fuzzy at the end) is unexpectedly sweet. Look for this movie (which will open in Seattle in Nov.) at Oscar time.
Outside the theaters, Toronto’s still TIFF-mad (a homeless guy on the sidewalk asked me how the movies were yesterday) and celebrity-crazed. I ate with a friend in Yorkville last night, the trendy downtown area where the festival’s centered, and had to push our way through crowds to walk down the street. Dozens stood on a sidewalk across from a restaurant with necks craned. Matt Damon, word was, was dining in a private room upstairs. I looked up and just saw some shoulders and backs of heads. Maybe one of them was Damon’s. It didn’t seem quite worth standing on the sidewalk for.
Off this morning to Terry Gilliam’s “The imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” Heath Ledger’s final film role. More later. (Oh, and I should probably weigh in on the subject obsessing the National Post, an otherwise respectable paper which teased this question above the masthead on A1, for heaven’s sake: Is Penelope Cruz pregnant? After spending twenty minutes interviewing the lady yesterday, I’ll say confidently: I dunno.)

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