Her Screen 31 articles

Her

2013

Her Poster
  • “Her” is a cautionary tale that offers warning where none is needed, a diffuse and sentimental admonition to put the smartphone down, push away from the computer, turn off the TV, unplug the game controller, and connect with people. But when people do attempt to connect, Jonze (who also wrote the script) endows them with nothing but psychobabbulous clichés to define themselves.

  • Jonze wants us to know he's making a movie with all of the deep-down feels he can fussily muster. So why does it feel so phony? I'm bothered by the way the women are treated: Olivia Wilde's neurotic blind date, Rooney Mara's pussy-whipper ex-wife, Amy Adams's damaged don't-know-she's-my-dreamgirl, Portia Doubleday's heartsick sex surrogate (the submissive counterpart to Translation's "Lip my stockings!" aggressor). They seem like the constructs of a passive-aggressive misanthrope...

  • There’s one unnerving/funny scene which imagines a genuinely new type of romantic difficulty, with a sex surrogate showing up (for free!) to carnally embody husky-voiced OS Samantha (it ends badly). But otherwise staying the course as a contemporary “sensitive” relationship film (e.g. a softer “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” or the non-father half of “Beginners”), “Her” skews extremely conventional and somewhat regressive in its dynamics.

  • There’s nothing wrong with the writing or acting, but there is not much of a sense of intimacy between Catherine and Theodore, and the main reason for this is that the couple looks mismatched, and the main reason that they look mismatched is that one of them has no visible skin texture. Having chosen a beautiful young actress, Jonze presents her beauty thoughtlessly, for he doesn’t really know what to do with it other than to signpost in the broadest way: this is a desirable love object.

  • Had brilliant screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Jonze’s first two films, been handed this premise, he’d surely have come up with something unforgettably visionary. Jonze instead creates a simple, moving allegory about what happens when soul mates drift apart, investing most of his futuristic ideas into the film’s subtly offbeat costume and set design.

  • [In Passion,] DePalma shows the actuality of neoliberal subjectivity, in which everything is vicious competition in the service of self-entrepreneurship, with female sexuality as the linchpin of the whole structure. In contrast, Jonze shows neoliberal subjectivity’s self-deluding idealization of itself as total sincerity, maintaining this emotional nakedness and yearning within the parameters of a world in which “sincerity” can itself only be a commodity...

  • How does Samantha evolve from a woman uncomfortable with the non-corporeality of her “body” to one happy to relegate herself to the cosmos? Only through the intervention of a filmmaker eager to write himself out of the uncomfortable situations his idiosyncratic characters take him into.

  • The path that Jonze displays inHer is a kind of reductio ad absurdum presented as a logical consequence -- your computer, as a marketed, focus-grouped product, will know precisely how to talk to you, and will therefore become an ideal lover. This is compelling as far as it goes, but Jonze suffers from a lack of imagination when it comes to any real consequences from this turn of events.

  • You have to wonder what Her says about the present moment—when so many of us are, indeed, “in love” with our devices, unable to put down our iPhones during dinner, glued to screens of all sizes, endlessly distracted by electronic pings and buzzers—that in the latest incarnation of the robot myth, it’s the people who seem blandly interchangeable and the machines who have all the personality.

  • Move over, HAL 9000. Take a hike, Skynet. After decades of being typecast as an agent of destruction or (at best) the harbinger of dystopian things to come, artificial intelligence gets a romantic lead in “Her,” Spike Jonze’s singular, wryly funny, subtly profound consideration of our relationship to technology — and to each other.

  • With great sadness, the film regards the way we've become tethered to technology as being possibly past a point of no return, but with intense curiosity, it also asks us to never forget that we're still very much alive. Like all of Jonze's work, the metaphysically profound Her is rich in alternately wry and depressing details about the human condition.

  • By the end, Jonze pushes past his tightrope of sincerity and irony into a near-spiritual realm that still maintains its fragilely intimate, bittersweet vibe. When even artificial intelligence turns out to be elusive, perhaps the imperfections of human beings are the only thing we can all rely on.

  • ...Where Kaufman tended to whittle his dialogue down to a witty, immaculate tee, Jonze lets his characters’ exchanges stretch out and ripen... Her strikes me as one of very few recent, big-budget movies to take seriously a distinctly modern kind of paranoia: the fear that we’re starting to import our lives so thoroughly into laptops, cell phones, tablets, and screens that we risk alienating ourselves from our bodies.

  • Jonze treats the affections of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix, a manchild disguised in wool slacks) as perfectly natural rather than transgressive, forcing a comparison between the carefully crafted tomorrow of the film and our present-day world that makes the story all the more resonant... What follows is a relationship drama that’s complicated, meaty, and challenging in its implications.

  • Are our machines becoming more human, or are we becoming more mechanized, or both? Jonze’s take is unfalteringly ingenious and witty, even when the film and Phoenix are being dead serious, which is the grace of sci-fi at its smartest—exploiting its fermentative intimacy with satire... Sadly, Her is destined to date like imported fruit, or a year-old iGadget, and there may have been no way to avoid this, given Jonze’s self-prescribed agenda and terrain.

  • The middle act may stumble under the weight of too many one-man-romance montages, and those with a low tolerance for utopian future-quirk will be readying their jokes about Her being short for hipster. But the film’s takeaways—about artificial intelligence and genuine emotion; humanity and intimacy—trump minor annoyances. It’s melancholy, moving and unmissable.

  • Longish takes don't draw attention to their duration, in part because Jonze goes out of his way early on to establish the importance of looking at another person at length, but also because Phoenix's performance feels overwhelmingly complete and real, each change of posture and expression betraying a large and complex emotional interior.

  • The future semi-dystopia here is just as filtered through our present as reality as Computer Chess. Computers may have at one point seemed like cute and clunky toys, but we’ve become subject to them in every sense, to the point where the world at times the entire world seems contained within a beautiful, enrapturing network of screens.

  • Set in the near future—perhaps ten years, ten months, or ten minutes from now—Spike Jonze’s Her follows the cathexis humans have expended on their tech gadgets through to its logical next step: falling in love with them. Jonze’s fourth feature (and the first for which he has written an original script) is neither a simple lamentation about our overly mediated lives nor a gooey exploration of loneliness, but a perceptive reflection on the need for—and folly of—attachment.

  • At once a brilliant conceptual gag and a deeply sincere romance... Part of the pleasure of the movie is its modest scale, its hushed beauty and the deliberate ordinariness of its story. In contrast to the hard shininess of so many science-fiction movies, “Her” looks muted, approachable and vividly tactile, from Theodore’s wide-open face to the diffused lighting and the ravishingly lovely sherbet palette splashed with mellow yellows, tranquil tangerines and coral pinks.

  • This is a quiet, actorly film that never tries to impress you with its hipness, but from a technical point of view it’s also state-of-the-art. From the strange and dreadful future fashions designed by Casey Storm to the slightly disorienting color scheme to the melancholy score by Arcade Fire to Hoyte Van Hoytema’s gorgeous cinematography, “Her” is an immersive universe that’s sometimes faintly satirical but more often lovelorn and transcendent.

  • A big part of the movie's charm is just how thoroughly Jonze has imagined and constructed this future Los Angeles, from its smoggy skies to its glittering skyscrapers to its efficient mass transit system and much more... "Her" remains one of the most engaging and genuinely provocative movies you're likely to see this year, and definitely a challenging but not inapt date movie.

  • What’s so entrancing about Her is that it doesn’t offer a Terrible Warning—we’re far too used to them—but expresses its future vision as a seductive comic conceit. This elegant, moving entertainment is richer and more adult than you might have expected Spike Jonze to come up with (it’s his first solo script credit). It’s the perfect date movie to take your iPhone to, or even a living person if you’re that way inclined.

  • Spike Jonze doesn't simply direct. He innovates... You can imagine how Stanley Kubrick might have handled this same premise. The technology would have turned dark. I might have liked that movie. But I admire what Jonze does here. Samantha doesn't scare Jonze. She fascinates him.

  • Although there are caveats I could (and will) mention about the details of the OS and how the lovers interact, the movie compellingly presents the core idea that a software program (an AI) can — will — be believably human and lovable. This is a breakthrough concept in cinematic futurism in the way that The Matrix presented a realistic vision that virtual reality will ultimately be as real as, well, real reality.

  • Neither I’m Here nor even Being John Malkovich has quite the sophistication Jonze shows in this, his first sole feature screenplay credit. Her is as talky and complex as any film scripted by his erstwhile partner Charlie Kaufman... The combination of Jonze’s dialogue, the intensity of the performances and the way the film’s style wraps you up in Theodore and Samantha’s inner-ear relationship makes this feel like a uniquely apt diagnosis of contemporary ills.

  • [When Theodore and Samantha have sex,] the screen fades to black, which is meant to indicate how intimacy can make it feel as though the rest of the world has faded away. We hear this literally in their voice-overs: “Everything else just disappeared,” and “It was just you and me.” But the black screen also helps show what it’s like to be an OS, bodiless and floating. That is, it helps us, the audience, empathize too, with a kind of being we’ve never encountered before.

  • For all its occasional sluggishness, Her is a wonderful movie – and I still haven’t mentioned the two best things about it (three if you count the superb lead performances). One is the look, a velvety, pastel-coloured smoothness that feels like the film is taking place in a giant womb. And the other is the bittersweet quality – because Samantha, in the end, is all too human.

  • Her involves white urban professionals and their dilemmas, but that fact is a lot less significant than the group most vividly represented here: empaths. Not literal psychics, but people with extraordinary emotional intelligence and compassion. Theodore, Samantha, Amy, and the sex surrogate all take on other people's pain, joys and yearnings as their own—and not in any cheap or parasitic way. Each of them indulges this talent with a sense of morality, responsibility.

  • Why did this soft movie hit so hard? Because the film is about universal things. Love, connection, intimacy, seeking it, finding it, losing it, not knowing how to let go into it, not knowing how to let go of ourselves. I felt I lived through several once-but-no-more relationships in the course of the film. It encompasses it all. Happy sad embarrassing painful. It's all of it. And without judgment. Of/at any step.

  • The empathetic leap demanded by this movie is the recognition that HER is fundamentally about her. Samantha’s story parallels Pinocchio’s, though we never quite grasped his nebulous, essentially academic reasons for preferring fallible flesh to durable wood. Why should he want to be a real boy, anyway? In contrast, Samantha’s yearning for a body—any body—reasserts the centrality of that vessel to the human (and superhuman?) experience.

More Links