A St. Louis State of Mind: Up in the Air Screens in LA

Categories: Arts, Community
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A still for Up in the Air features Goerge Clooney at Lambert Field.
[Editor's note: As many RFT readers know, for many years Randall Roberts was a fixture at this paper, first as a freelancer, later as music editor and then as a staff writer, before he packed up his quill pen and ink bottle and hied to the left coast, where he now music-edits our sister paper LA Weekly.

Well, you can take the boy out of St. Louis, but you can't take St. Louis out of the boy. So it was that Randy found himself at a screening of Up in the Air earlier this week, and just had to check in with us folks back home...]

It all makes a transplanted Angeleno a little homesick. Tuesday night at International Creative Management's screening room in Century City, director Jason Reitman introduced his new film, Up in the Air, to a small group of interested parties. Much of the film, which stars George Clooney, was shot in St. Louis, even scenes that purport to be Chicago and northern Wisconsin -- even though the movie's story only lands in St. Louis for maybe ten minutes.

​Highlights, without giving any plot points away?

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Sandy Herde
George Clooney during rehearsals on Whittemore Place in Lafayette Square in April 2009; click pic for a closer look...
A heated defense of Lambert Airport by Clooney, set with Minoru Yamasaki's iconic terminal in the background; a scene that takes place in Chicago that was almost certainly filmed in Lafayette Square -- the wrought-iron fences are the giveaway. Two characters sneak into (I think) Lindbergh High School. The Cheshire Inn is featured in a wedding scene that, in the story, takes place in northern Wisconsin. A lot of the scenes in Up in the Air occur in interior settings, so surely there are way more St. Louis locations than those.
As well, touching, incredibly moving snapshots of laid-off workers bookend the film. Many of them are St. Louisians, and their stories of being fired from their jobs offer a glimpse into the lives of Midwesterners dealing with the financial crisis.

(A few of them might want to move to LA and make the transition into acting.)

And then there's the closing song, "Up In the Air," which runs during the credits and was written by former Riverfront Times proofreader copy editor Kevin Renick (!). It's a soft acoustic song composed by the St. Louis-based writer and musician. As the credits rolled and I saw his name, I wondered: Is that the same persnickety guy who saved my ass at least once a week? Indeed, it is. Renick wrote it, Reitman told me after the screening, after getting laid off from a job.

Is the film any good, though? I thought it was great. Of course, maybe that's my heart talking.

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