Whereas some might be watching Christmas movies this time of the year, we are watching dramas. Read our What We’re Watching column below for recommendations on films that don’t hesitate to evoke pathos.
Up in the Air (2009)
Ryan Bighnam (George Clooney) is a corporate downsizer. His job is to lay off employees and to do so in a professional manner. His job can be seen as heartless, unemployment determined by numbers – an uneasy consequence of capitalism. He has to navigate what is one of the most memorable days of someone’s life: losing their job. He responds to aggression, crying, and disbelief and maybe, if you believe he has a heart, can comfort those he lays off about their future.
But Up in the Air isn’t only focused on the morality and impacts of downsizing; it’s focused on Ryan’s life and his personal connections. ‘Up in the air’ more than three hundred and twenty days a year, Ryan has a tenuous relationship with his family given his lack of presence at home. Ryan’s absence is by design. He relishes his lack of commitments even though he is at the age where most have children and families, or at least are somewhat present in their relatives’ lives. His perspective is challenged upon the hiring of Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a young college graduate who believes she has a technological innovation in the business of downsizing, and meeting Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a traveling businesswoman who can go head to head with him in rewards programs and airline credit cards.
Up in the Air usually rotates between streaming platforms (presently it’s on Netflix), and I watched the film for the second time this past week. It holds up over the years, largely due to how the film explores how our connections with others provide meaning and fulfillment into our lives – a theme that doesn’t have an expiration date. – Alex Sitaras
James Ponsoldt‘s Smashed follows Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul), an alcoholic couple with the fundamentals of their relationship based on the substance. This is then challenged by Kate’s decision of getting sober.
What I like most about Smashed is how it approaches alcohol from a different perspective that is rarely portrayed in films, as alcohol is culturally present in multiple ways, thus its portrayal often tends to be comedic or unironically comical. Therefore, Ponsoldt’s and Susan Burke‘s writing definitely deserves a round of applause (and bonus points for the great acting). – Alper Kavak
Both Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams are actors that I have admired for a long time, and their performance together in Sebastian Leilo‘s Disobedience does not fall below expectations, at all. The story revolves around Ronit and Esti and their (secret) affection for each other, which poses a colossal issue within their Orthodox Jewish community.
Although it is technically correct to do so, labeling the film as romantic drama is very unjust, as the film aims at how oppressed one can be by the people they love – the fact that they are Jewish is merely to set the background of the story, as the same issue can be applied to any community with beliefs where one person stands out. As a sum, the film does not stray away from reality at any given point and delivers its point right to the end. – Alper Kavak