Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hey! We Saw a Movie! - Her

Jonny and I went to see the Her. It was totally not a man-date. Absolutely not! Two guys can see a movie that might have a very slight romantic overtone without it being something more. Again, totally not a man-date. (Besides, Jonny didn't even put out afterwards.)

WARNING: MILD SPOILERS AHEAD. Not bad spoilage... sort of like a slight sunburn. You know, it doesn't hurt but it looks pinkish and people cringe when they see it and you're like "No, it's cool, it totally doesn't hurt." That's the types of spoilers ahead. And yes, it's still really cold outside.

Toaster’s Contribution - I’ve been sitting on this review for over a week now. It’s been hard to figure out exactly what I want to say. I absolutely loved this movie. It was funny, moving, thought-provoking and genius. Once again, Joaquin Phoenix proved that he is one of the most underrated actors today, especially when you consider how vastly different his character was in Her versus his eccentric and disturbed role in 2012’s The Master.  In speaking of The Master, Amy Adams was also in both that film and Her. I was disappointed that Adams’ husband in Her wasn’t played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. We could have had a Master reunion! (They could have also invited director Paul Thomas Anderson to bring unnerving silences between their lines of dialogue!)

I have to spotlight Spike Jonze, the writer and director of Her. I already thought the man was a crazy genius after his amazing music videos and expectation shattering films such as Being John Malkovich. However, after seeing his newest film, I am in awe of his talent. He created a future world that is really only a few years away and already feels real. In a quirky but genuine manner, Her explores the very notion of love, what it means to be in a romantic relationship and poses the question of what it means to be human. 

The film, however, delves even deeper than existential concepts of love and interaction. Jonze sets the stage for something that could really happen. By placing advanced artificial intelligence, designed to learn as it interacts, programmers set into motion what many scientists have termed “the singularity.” For those unfamiliar with the theory, the idea is that computers steadily become smarter, faster and more powerful with each advancement of technology, which in turn leads to the next advancement. This technological growth continues to multiply exponentially until such a point that computers become more intelligent than man can ever hope to be. At that point the future of the human race becomes uncertain, not unlike trying to figure out what lies beyond the event horizon of a black hole (or singularity). Science fiction has delved into this concept before, usually in an ‘end of the world’ manner (i.e. Skynet from the Terminator franchise). In fact, this year a film entitled Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, is set to be released that explores the singularity theory; though by the look of the trailer, the movie seems to be focused on spookiness and inexplicable scenes of things floating in the air in what looks to be yet another Inception rip-off. (This leads me to believe that rather than providing us with an interesting vision of a possible future; it’s just going to be a silly mess.)

My point is that I think Her is very likely a more accurate depiction of how the singularity could come about and some of the effects it has on the human race, though that theme is downplayed into a seamless background subplot amidst Phoenix’s Theodore Twombley and his ever evolving relationship with his operating system Samantha. (Oddly, Scarlett Johansson had more of a presence in this film than she did in Don Jon, where she was physically present!) You see the world gradually change around him. People are seen holding conversations with their phones. As more and more people begin having romantic relationships with their operating systems, at first on just an emotional and psychological level, then later in a bizarre physical manner, as the opinions of society become divided over acceptance of these relationships versus disgust at something so unorthodox… a clever wink at the current debate of homosexuality in our culture!

Prior to seeing Her, I had read some critical observations of the film (from somebody who hadn’t even seen the movie). I forget from where or whom, but the gist of it was Her was unoriginal because it was “ripping off” the premise of an episode of The Big Bang Theory in which one of the characters falls in love with Siri, the vocal search engine on iPhones.  First of all, while I have never seen that episode, I doubt that the sitcom delved so deeply into the very concepts of relationships and what it means to be in love, let alone the scope of character interactions and the changing world. Second, Spike Jonze has a history of taking on unoriginal projects and turning them into something completely unique. For instance, look what he did with the beloved book Where the Wild Things Are. He took a children’s classic and turned it into an amazing film about growing up and the end of innocence! Or how about Adaptation? What was supposed to be a straight up movie based on the book The Orchid Thief was turned into a bizarre film written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze!

I don’t want to give away anything more about the plot. I just want everyone to go see this unconventional yet sincere science fiction masterpiece. Her is easily one of, quite possibly the best movie I saw in 2013 (though I didn’t get around to it until this year!)

And now comes the long and rambling thoughts on the film by Jonny Prophet… or he’s just a deeply disturbed individual; history will be the judge!

Jonny’s Contribution - I was deeply moved by this movie. Spike Jozne proves he’s one of the best directors today. It is a fantastic movie about human relationships and humanity itself. But I don’t believe it will win any awards and that’s shame.  I think people miss the point of this movie based on what previews showed. I hope Spike Jonze will make a new film soon.

(I think this is the point where the pills started to kick in… or stop working. Seriously, who can tell with this guy?)

I can’t wait for that new Wes Anderson film to come out. Seriously, why isn’t there a mass transit system in middle earth, do people like walking there?  Dammit Michael B. Jordan, stop wasting your talent on rom-coms! That goes double for you Anthony Mackie!  Based on the trailers the new X-men film is going suck. It’s like a train wreck that you can’t help but watch, but it’s full of mutants! What the hell is up with Quicksilver? I’m glad the Burger King Kids Club mascot has found work!...  Oh right back to talking about the movie Her.  I deeply look forward to a future with bullet trains, smart OS’s, and people that hand write letters to your family on your behalf, or you know… Japan. But then Pharrell made a 24 hours music video! Who has the time to watch this? I could only get 2 hours of it done. Also he looked like Smoky the Bear at Grammys this year. How heck did we end up with a bear as fire safety mascot and Brits get a frog for theirs? Bears don’t really say fire safety to me… a chipmunk maybe.  Why is Steve Guttenberg not more movies? Do think the studio will make a sequel to Her that’s written and directed by someone else, starting Zach Braff as a plucky programmer? I might see it if Turk is voice of OS in that one or maybe Doctor Cox.  Oh well, it would be nice if my computer talked me with voice Scarlett Johansson… instead of an angry man that speaks only in Portuguese. 

Thanks for that time stolen from my life that I will never get back, Jonny. Until the next review (something nice and depressing with a good soundtrack) Stay Strange!

1 comment:

  1. This was totally a man-date. He brought you flowers!