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Hailed by critics as an Oscar contender, Up in the Air features fine performances, a witty script, and a story line that manages to avoid predictability of tone and resolution. Yet the film is ultimately a disappointment. Perpetual motion, the filmmakers want to say, is only a partial remedy for the ills of human life, as it reflects only a partial truth. Striving to say something more, something significant about its main character, about the tensions between independence and dependence, about the importance of family and friends, the film fails to transcend clichés.
"Education in the United States has become vocational. ... Many of the state universities, community colleges and online for-profit universities — that are growing faster than any other university sentiment — have no use for the Humanities, literature, history, philosophy, classics, art. Why? Because the Humanities ask the kind of broad questions of meaning that those systems that prize above all else vocational workers do not want to ask.
"The problem with our vocational system is that it measures and rewards a very narrow kind of intelligence, a kind of analytical intelligence to create legions of systems managers — people who have a drone-like ability to work for very long hours, and (have) a kind of penchant or capacity for manipulation, but don't know how to question assumptions or structures."