You gotta hand it to Paramount. Many studios would be afraid to pull off what they accomplished Saturday for their new contender "Up in the Air."
Along with about 50 other journalists, Awards Campaign trekked on a private American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles with star and likely Best Supporting Actress nominee Anna Kendrick and Sad Brad Smith, a new music artist whose song "Help Yourself" plays during the closing credits. While most of the press watched the film once we were airborne (I'd had the pleasure of attending the Toronto Film Festival premiere), I spent a few minutes conducting video interviews with both Kendrick and Smith.
Having previously spoken with the lovely ingenue at Toronto, it was fun to see her a few months later when the hype for her performance has really begun to make some noise. Kendrick is in a great moment in her career. She's still part of the madness around the "Twilight" saga as Bella's human friend Jessica, but she's also got a key role in Edgar Wright's big screen adaptation of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." Oh, and her breakout role that can't be diminished in "Air." Not a bad place to be.
As for Smith, he showed a lot of class and talent by performing a few songs including "Help Yourself" in the aisle of a plane (video will come later this week). His inclusion in the movie and on the soundtrack is no doubt a great kick off for his debut album "Love Is Not What You Need" arriving early next year. And yes, he's called Sad Brad because he sings sad songs (but certainly not the Tori Amos wrist cutting variety).
It's always an odd experience watching a movie you've already seen on the big screen on an airplane projection, but two months after my initial viewing I was struck by a number of things about "Air" that had escaped me. The moments that feature the real-life unemployed seem more relevant by the day, Kendrick's in the film a lot more than I remember and Clooney really does give one of the finest performances of his career. Moreover, Reitman's direction is even more impressive the second time around. Unlike "Juno" or "Thank You For Smoking," it seems as though Reitman's visual aesthetic has grown to match his established talent with directing his actors.
It's worth noting American Airlines is a promotional partner of "Up in the Air" and with a number of the company's reps on the plane it was fun to corner, er, grill, er, quiz them on the fictional 10 million mile club Clooney's character is after in the movie and the very real concierge key status he already has. It seems the latter is awarded by American on a case by case basis. So, even if you may have 1 million miles it doesn't guarantee you're going to get the key. And while Clooney's character rattles off a number of benefits of having the special card, those are not exactly what it entitles you to on American. What extras you do get from it or even how many flyers have one was considered a state secret by the American reps. Paging TMZ...
While setting up and conducting interviews on a plane wasn't a piece of cake, Paramount was able to squeeze everyone in just a few minutes before we have to land back at good ol' LAX. And as Miss Kendrick was reminded by a bunch of journos, this is one cross-country flight where she packed 50 quick interviews she'll never forget. And neither will we.
On a side note -- for those wondering -- Clooney was in Italy shooting his new thriller "The American," director Jason Reitman was introducing "Air" at the St. Louis Film Festival and the film's other leading lady Vera Farminga? Well, let's just say she had a very important date with the Academy.
Look for the video interviews with Kendrick and Smith that have to be seen just because they were conducted on a plane, later this week.
"Up in the Air" opens in 12 markets on Dec. 4. It should be nationwide by Christmas.