Archives for posts with tag: the future

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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.

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Here’s another film that I heard was bad, and racist, and and and. I didn’t find it to be so bad, myself. The premise is a bit hyperbolic, the script over-extended, and the acting doesn’t leave much room for accolades (yes, it’s true, this is not anything close to Jodie Foster’s best performances, even if it’s always fun to hear her speaking in French). But this isn’t a piece of garbage. It’s simply not the mind-destroying science fiction film that people seem to always crave and, therefore, expect. In the end it’s just a standard dystopian film, but with a little more Matt Damon than weird used to, and that incredible accent that makes Sharlto Copley almost incomprehensible.

As for the racism? Blomkamp was clearly trying to deal with racism in an exaggerated way, à la District 9, and the man is not what we’d call the sultan of subtlety. As it is, I don’t find it immediately unpalatable to think that the Los Angeles of the future is hispanophone. Is it not already? I don’t find the current prevalence of Spanish to be disgusting, so I don’t have any problem seeing it represented as such in the future. That it would play into the class war (which is what it’s really about) in Elysium, well that simply makes sense, even if it could have been done much better.

I will state, for the record, though, that I’m tired of characters named “Spider,” who are inevitably somewhat the same. The best spider remains Henry Rollins in Johnny Mnemonic (a fairly fun dystopian film, I might add, even if purely ridiculous):

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ps. Alice Braga is a knock-out.

Feel the burn.

I have learned that so much happens in Space, especially in The Future.

Danny Boyle has made some bad films (Trance, 28 Weeks Later) and some good ones (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later). I think Sunshine falls in the category of “pretty decent,” and proves that Danny Boyle loves the color of fire.

Cillian Murphy’s character being named “Robert Capa” was an odd choice and the religious ravings of “Pinbacker” are corny, but there are some gold space suits that are too fabulous for this world and I love them.

Dreams of sun flares.