Archives for posts with tag: human

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I am sad to report that, despite major advances in artificial intelligence, the Future wears high-waisted trousers.

Spike Jonze has only directed four feature films, but the quality of those features has been outstanding (though I say this without having seen Where the Wild Things Are). He really has a knack for exploring loneliness within a generally comic atmosphere, and even though the worlds he creates are always one to two parts absurd, there’s always a very human heart beating in the center of them. In Her, the seeming gimmick is the idea of a world where the latest advance in artificial intelligence is giving everyone the gift of their own, super-evolved personal assistant. Of course this becomes a vehicle to questions about what it means to open yourself to change, to love and do so without grasping at the loved one in fear, and to move with grace into what comes next. There’s one of Jonze’s signatures: you’re laughing at the novelty bit, but then it leads you right into a fit of cathartic weeping! Damnit, Spike, you got me again.

The script deserved its Golden Globe. One thing that makes it so impressive is the incredibly diversity of voices it accommodates: epistolary voices that come in letter form, the host of characters, the ones among them that we could say inhabit a different mode of being than what we consider to be human being, and they are all distinct and memorable. On voice alone the script would be impressive, but then that’s just part of the narrative. And one thing I’ll say about the narrative is that it’s not exactly surprising, but that’s to its credit. It fits in the category of stories where we have a general feeling of where we are headed, and yet every moment still feels as fresh and worthwhile as if it had been a total revelation.

The acting is superb. I think I already knew it when seeing him in The Master (2012), but it was while watching Her that I thought to myself that Joaquin Phoenix is truly one of the great actors of our time. I know I’m not alone in thinking it, and I know there are people who think he is a buffoon. Whatever he may be in our world, on screen he is a marvel, and this film is just another bright example. Everyone else in the cast was also excellent, though I did at one point imagine someone else being cast in the role of Samantha rather than Scarlett Johansson. She made a good performance, though.

So this film isn’t without its flaws, it isn’t quite as good as Upstream Color and I could critique it if I wanted to. (C’mon Spike, how much simulated sex did we really need to get the point???) But overall, I was so very happy to have seen it. I recommend it without reservation.

But please stop with the high waisted trousers.

tampa

I generally don’t “rate” or “review” books written by friends, so as  to avoid any possibility of dishonesty as a reviewer. And usually, I extend that policy even to informal venues, like GoodReads or my personal blogs. When I do talk about my friends’ work, I try to be as honest as possible about my relationship, so that anyone who reads what I write will know that I am absolutely partial. So is the case with this book: Alissa Nutting is a friend of mine, and I cannot speak about her work with any pretext of objectivity…

[click here for the rest of the review]