The Yes List – George Clooney Soars in Up in the Air
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, George Clooney soars in Up in the Air, the best of Art Basel Miami, and Cate Blanchett takes on Blanche DuBois.
George Clooney Soars in Up in the Air
Up in the Air, director Jason Reitman’s followup to the indie darling Juno, has come with sky-high expectations—and it doesn’t disappoint. Starring a clean-cut George Clooney and the ever-beautiful Vera Farmiga, it is the perfect film for these perilous economic times. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a corporate consultant who has clocked more than 5 million miles traveling around the country helping businesses to fire employees. Then, due to his company’s own recession woes, he is grounded, forced to live in one place rather than out of a suitcase (and without his frequent flying companion, Farmiga). The critics are over the moon for the sweet, sad adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel of the same name. The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane writes, “The tension between the bleak and the blithe, the prime source of this movie’s strength, is sustained by Reitman to the end,” while New York magazine’s David Edelstein weighs in with: “Clooney—slim, dark, perfectly tailored—glamorizes insincerity in a way that makes you want to go out and lie.” Finally, a recession film that manages to be sincere, glamorous, and funny, all at once.
Art Basel Heats Up Miami
It’s Art Basel Miami time again, which means that the art world (and its celebrity collectors) have all descended upon South Beach to party, mingle, and hopefully sell some work. Rachel Wolff previews the best of this year’s fair on Art Beast. Also in Miami this week is the Bass Museum’s Where Do We Go From Here? Selections from La Colección Jumex, featuring one of the most important contemporary-art collections in Latin America, including works from Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Richard Pettibone, Jenny Holzer, and more. Read David Kaufman’s interview with the Mexican Medici behind the Jumex Collection. Another show in Miami is the It Ain’t Fair exhibition, organized by Miami art collective OHWOW. The show will feature some of the brightest young stars on the alternative art scene, from Rita Ackermann to Tim Barber, Lizzi Bougatsos to Nate Lowman.
Blanchett Does Blanche
Though it was never in question that Cate Blanchett is one of the best actresses working on the film or stage today, she is further cementing that claim this week, with a stellar turn as scorned Southern belle Blanche DuBois in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. Norweigan director Liv Ullmann has brought the touring version of the Tennessee Williams play to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and her staging is so elegant that Blanchett’s Blanche, a notoriously difficult character, seems natural, and almost relatable—by placing the emphasis on Blanchett and allowing the actress to do the heavy lifting (as she does very easily), Ullmann breathes new life into the script. As Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote, “Ever since Brando set Broadway abuzz in the original stage production in 1947, Stanley—the young, ruthless sexual animal who is married to Blanche’s sister, Stella—has usually been presented as Blanche’s equal, in terms of both thematic import and star presence. But Ms. Ullmann’s production makes it clear that, in Streetcar, it is Blanche who evolves, struggles and falls as heroes classically have.” As Blanchett portrays Blanche’s mental breakdown and delivers the famously frail line, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” the audience remains rapt and sympathetic—not an easy task when someone is going crazy in front of your eyes. Blanchett pulls it off so well that she redefines the role—one that has gone to some of the world’s best actresses over time, including Tallulah Bankhead, Blythe Danner, Vivien Leigh, and Jessica Lange—and made it her own.