If you weren’t already aware of how our recent economic state has made the source material for Jason Reitman’s new film “Up in the Air” extra-extra-melancholy, the teaser trailer, released earlier today, makes it perfectly clear. You don’t even need to listen to George Clooney’s corporate keynote-cum-voiceover about literal and metaphorical baggage — simply note the incredible amount of airport staring that’s going on.
It’s hard to say when the airport stare became American indie and pseudo-indie film’s favorite visual shorthand reminder of the modern empty coldness of our cold, empty modern lives. But it’s become inescapable — a character turns his (or her, but mostly his) dead gaze away from the camera, allowing us to reflect on how one can be lonely in a crowd, on how isolating our modern institutions are, on how epiphany may or may not be waiting around the corner, on how artfully sterile this shot composition is, on how we should really download this soundtrack song when we get home. It’s amazing anyone can manage to get to their flight on time, with so many people moodily drooping their way along conveyor belts, up escalators and in front of windows. A small selection:
[Photos: “Up in the Air,” Paramount, 2009; “Away We Go,” Focus, 2009; “Last Chance Harvey,” Overture, 2008; “Elizabethtown,” Paramount, 2005; “Everything is Illuminated,” Warner Independent, 2005; “Garden State,” Fox Searchlight, 2004; “Fight Club,” Twentieth Century Fox, 1999]