For director Jason Reitman, risky films pay off

Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:40am EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

TORONTO (Reuters) - They say on Wall Street that big risks pay big dividends, and the same can be said of the movies made by director Jason Reitman, whose new "Up In the Air" is winning high praise early in this year's Oscar race.

Reitman earned a best director Oscar nomination for his 2007 teen pregnancy film "Juno" and critical praise for his directing debut, tobacco industry satire "Thank You for Smoking." He is at it again with "Up In the Air" which, during a recession, has as its hero a man whose job is firing people.

But the movie, which premiered this weekend at Oscar race launch pad Toronto International Film Festival, goes far beyond the simple description above and delves deeply into the need for human connection, family bonds, and in the end, love.

Still, during a recession, "Up In the Air" walks the line between rewarding fans with a touching human comedy and turning them off with a story that skewers society's ills just as audiences are looking to escape real life at movie theaters.

The 31-year-old director has been involved in this risky business before. Indeed, he says he can't help himself.

"For whatever reason, I'm always drawn to those type of subjects," Reitman told Reuters. "My first movie was about cigarette issues. My second was about teenage pregnancy. I like walking that fine line. I get excited about it."

Reitman is the son of Hollywood producer Ivan Reitman, whose credits include broad comedies such as smash hit "Ghost Busters," but unlike his father's work, his films have deftly mixed elements of both comedy and drama.

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<p>Jason Reitman arrives at the "Chloe" film screening during the 34th Toronto International Film Festival, September 13, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>