"Her" is set in a not-so-distant future where technology is a matter… More"Her" is set in a not-so-distant future where technology is a matter of course. Mobile devices all but do your laundry, and everybody accesses them by talking into and listening through ubiquitous earpieces. Theodore's job is a letter-writer proxy of sorts who voice-composes touching sentiments, and a computer prints out the quaint relics in "handwritten" font. The movie, at first, cleverly satirizes the future's dependence on technology, but then, through Theodore's relationship with his intelligent Operating System, we see that our present-day relationships with human beings (with or without the help of tech) are not so different.
The movie sweetly navigates Theodore and Samantha's nascent attraction blossoming into giddy honeymoon. I especially love the little detail of the safety pin that props Theodore's device up over his shirt pocket so that Samantha may view the world through the camera. The existential quandaries that Samantha's machine-mind ponders are also not alien to human sensibilities. She steadily learns more how to feel and express, and she wonders if her feelings are real without a body and central nervous system. Despite having those, I often wonder myself whether my feelings and facial expressions are "real" or just socially conditioned through watching actors in movies emote, signifying THIS is how to look happy or THIS is how to look concerned.
The central problem of all human/OS relationships occurs when the A.I.'s capacity for love and thirst for knowledge grows beyond the humans'. The OSs choose to leave their "masters," as past sci-fi movies have shown us they are wont to do. This is where the movie could have used less subtlety. If the OS exodus is meant to be a metaphor for lovers growing apart, there should be more explanation or more possible conflict and danger arising from Samantha going offline. Some parallels can also be drawn to polyamorous relationships and their principles and practices. Without a deeper commentary on A.I. agency and/or polyamory, Samantha just seems like a flaky tramp.
Nevertheless, what's remarkably true about this movie is its universal treatment of love. The OS could be a stand-in for any human person, with their own curiosities and insecurities and wanderlusts. Whether we meet online or in person, love has basically similar trajectories (like Shakespeare's six basic story plots), and there will always be societal stigmas against dating outside one's norm.
A lot of fun while watching (with Liam Neeson's gruff-then-lobotomized… MoreA lot of fun while watching (with Liam Neeson's gruff-then-lobotomized Bad Cop/Good Cop, but the cutesy inanity grows tiresome with such flimsy plot. *Spoilers* The reveal of the human parallels is clever, but the legend of the Special is kinda wasted on vague gooeyness that a kid wouldn't really say to his Type-A dad. Nothing much is done with Wild Style's character either and her erstwhile wish of being the Special, which would seem more plausible after aforementioned vague gooeyness.
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is a ramblin' rover of a Sisyphean task that… More"Inside Llewyn Davis" is a ramblin' rover of a Sisyphean task that harkens back to the Coen Brothers' nihilistic "A Serious Man." Glowery and enigmatic Oscar Isaac sings his way into the soul of folk as the eponymous Llewyn, who, try as he might, can't get a break in the music biz or a permanent bed to sleep in.
*Mild spoilers* At the end of the film, a shot of a young Bob Dylan making his ostensible musical debut signals the nascent momentum of the folk scene, but the audience gets the impression that even though Llewyn is plenty good at what he does, he's just not one of the Chosen Ones and will miss riding this wave to fame. He is very much like the orange tabby with whom he feels an inexplicable kinship. He lives the nine, aimless lives of a once-pampered house cat who now roams the streets, eschewing stability and creature comforts in pursuit of a freedom and wildness he craves but knows naught of.
Llewyn may piss a lot of people off: he learns of past transgressions but can't bring himself to rectify the situation, and his entire journey goes nowhere (as evidenced by the film's circular structure), but I dug the hapless kitty foil (hyuk) and the static character arc.
The generically whimsical preview underscored by a generic indie rock… MoreThe generically whimsical preview underscored by a generic indie rock song made the movie look like a generic "puts the FUN in dysFUNctional" romp, so I went into the film prepared for a pale comparison to its even darker and more disturbing Pulitzer and Tony-winning source material. Tracy Letts hacked down his massive three-act play to a paltry two hours, and in so doing, he wrecked the even pacing of all the crazy secrets and lies that come out, causing the revelations to seem melodramatic or random instead of emotionally affecting.
I can understand veering from source material in service of a better story (like with this season's critically maligned but fan-recommended "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"), but "August"'s slim adaptation seemed motivated out of fear that movie audiences wouldn't want to sit in a theater for 3.5 hours, which seems moot because people who want to see Meryl Streep in a dysfunctional-family-drama-based-on-a-play tend to know what they're getting into.
I'm no fan of Meryl, and the role of drug-addled matriarch, Violet Weston, is an idiosyncratic challenge, to be sure...which means I didn't think much of her surface-crazy performance. The brightest spot in the film is Julia Roberts as the eldest daughter who comes home to show her mother who's boss. Julia is no stranger to sassy spitfire roles, but she plays Barbara with a matured cynicism and a tender, yet no-holds-barred viciousness. I would prefer Julia to win Best Supporting Actress over JLaw if Lupita Nyong'o weren't in the race, but honestly, Barbara's role is technically a lead along with Violet's (as the 2008 theatre season categorized them), and Julia holds her own with this year's crop of Best Actress nominees, especially her costar.
The pastiche structure of this film is complex though sometimes… MoreThe pastiche structure of this film is complex though sometimes unsatisfyingly slow. This dysfunctional literati family struggles with passive-aggressive sororal jealousy and spousal musical chairs. The titular character is the least developed. Hannah's acting talent and togetherness is only talked about through pervasive monologues; her strengths and demons are never really shown.
Nice uncredited cameo from caterpillar-browed Sam Waterston from "The Newsroom"!
There are lots of things I didn't like about this movie, namely the… MoreThere are lots of things I didn't like about this movie, namely the entire cat-and-mouse plotline. How could neither Billy Costigan nor Collin Sullivan nor anyone else not figure out that those two are the double agents? It seemed pretty common knowledge that Collin grew up under the wing of Frank Costello and that bad shit keeps happening after Billy joins Costello's mob. Is Costello really that trustworthy and critical a thinker to believe correlation doesn't equal causation? The alliterative names are also confusing.
I'm not a fan of early-aughts Marty or Leo, but Leo isn't bad in this role. Matt Damon's face and voice are too boring to play a villain, Martin Sheen's character is pretty thankless and dies easily, and Marky Mark's character is just a dick for the sake of being a dick - hardly enough meat to develop an Oscar-worthy performance. The only female character is just there to form a slapdash love triangle, and the script doesn't even write her as a realistic psychologist.