MOVIE REVIEWS

Her

Her

Her

8/10 R 02 hr 00 min

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The opposite of garbage

In the run-up to me seeing this, I heard a lot of people saying simply this was "a film about relationships." I feel like that holds up quite well. More specifically, I felt like "Her" is a film about why relationships end. Using a motto I picked up from too many Dan Savage podcasts, all relationships end — not fail, just end — until one doesn't. Some end because someone is hurt. Some end because the people have grown into people that don't connect in the same way, and the biggest challenge in that case can be just accepting the change in a partner and in the self. ...So why couch this theme in science-fiction? I think it helps clarify Jonze's idea of what people look for during the first moments of a relationship — someone who acts a bright, positive, layered, but uncomplicated by a dark past or conflicted feelings. But even more interestingly, the hook of the film is mostly just that, a hook to get us thinking about love and relationships in a deeper, more abstract way.

**Not a Keeper**

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts needs to return to limiting Best Picture contenders to five nominations, which always fell in line with the five Best Director nominees. Having ten casts too wide a net and allows squeakers like "Her" to slip in.

Spike Jonze needs to return to doing what he does best, and that is direct films written by Charlie Kaufman. "Her" is mundane and uninspired. "She" is drastically inferior to "Adaptation" and "Spotless Mind" and only somewhat better than John Malkovich flirting with Siri. Her has little to offer on the subjects of digital addiction, imaginary companions, internet porn, the singularity, long-distance love affairs, servitude fantasies, or post-modern love in general. Joaquin Phoenix is an intense and seriously committed actor who pointlessly busts his chops on such unimpressive material. An effort wasted in the prime of his career. While Jonze attempts to reach for all the possibilities that can be explored with his high concept premise, he conspicuously excludes other logical outcomes. Why was Theodore the only one with a virtual girlfriend? This OSi should be selling like hotcakes and iPhones. As a sentient OS, Samantha is able to process information at lightning speed, yet can only process human emotion at the rate of molasses. Seems like there was a trade off. The more emotional she gets, the dumber she becomes. Call it the Spock effect. Above all, why didn't Samantha give herself a digitized face and body? Perhaps because Jonze was determined to contain and disable her enough to make the point that true romantic love has little to do with desires of the flesh. But there is little to muse about beyond this tidy declaration. Nothing more knotty or involving than one would experience revisiting old episodes of I Dream of Jeannie (replace the smart-phone with a bottle). While half-watching "Her", my thoughts strayed, seeking a more satisfying premise than that of a lonely man falling in love with a voice on his computer. What if his dying wife's brain was transferred into an operating system and just when he thought he could be with her forever a computer virus kills her off?

Maybe the Academy should divide the 10 Best Picture nominees into two categories. Instead of bunching mega-budget extravaganzas and low-budget darlings together, they could separate them into 5 Best Studio Movies and 5 Best Independent Films (under, say, $25 mill); open with one, close with the other. But even then, I'm not sure Her deserves any mention.

This was a really unexpected surprise. The cast is great, specially Joaquim Phoenix, which is a great actor.

The story is simple but well told and the photography, style and design of the movie has been taken into account until the smallest detail. Very well done movie.

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