Film Review: Life Itself (dir by Dan Fogelman)


Watching Life Itself is like getting a Hallmark card from a serial killer.  Even if you appreciate the sentiment, you still don’t feel good about it.

Written and directed by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, Life Itself attempts to juggle several different themes, so much so that it can sometimes be difficult to understand just what exactly the film is attempting to say.  That said, I think the main lesson of the film is that you should always look both ways before stepping out into the middle of the street.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a horrific backstory, involving a decapitated father, a pervy uncle, and a gun.  It doesn’t matter if you love Pulp Fiction or if you think Bob Dylan’s more recent work is underrated.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a dog and husband who is so in love with you that he’s practically a stalker.  It doesn’t even matter that your pregnant and looking forward to naming your firstborn after your favorite musician.  If you don’t look both ways before stepping out into the middle of the street, you’re going to get hit by a big damn bus.

That’s the lesson that Abby (Olivia Wilde) does not learn and, as a result, she not only gets run over by a bus but we, the viewers, are subjected to seeing her repeatedly getting run over by that bus.  As temtping as it is to feel bad for Abby, my sympathy was limited by the fact that she and her husband (Oscar Isaac) named their dog Fuckface.  I mean, seriously, who does that?  Not only is it cruel to the dog but it’s also inconsiderate to the people who have to listen to you shouting, “Fuckface!” whenever the dog gets loose.  For whatever reason, the movie doesn’t seem to get how annoying this is.  That’s because Life Itself is another one of those movies that mistakes quirkiness for humanity.

The other annoying thing about Abby is that she’s an English major who somehow thinks that the use of the unreliable narrator is an understudied literary phenonema.  In fact, she’s writing her thesis on unreliable narrators.  Her argument is that life itself is the ultimate unreliable narrator because life is tricky and surprising, which doesn’t make one bit of sense.

Speaking of narrators, Life Itself has three, which is three too many.  Two of the narrators are unreliable but I get the feeling that the third one is meant to be taken literally, which is a shame because the film would have made a lot more sense if it had ended with a Life of Pi-style revelation that none of what we just watched actually happened.

Anyway, Abby getting hit by a bus has repercussions that reverberate across the globe and across time.  Not only does it lead to her husband writing a bad screenplay but it also leads to him committing suicide in a psychiatrist’s office.  Abby’s daughter, Dylan (Olivia Cooke), grows up to be what this film believes to be a punk rocker, which means that she angrily covers Bob Dylan songs and stuffs a peanut butter and jelly sandwich down another girl’s throat.  Meanwhile, in Spain….

What?  Oh yeah, this film jumps from New York to Spain.  In fact, it’s almost like another film suddenly starts after an hour of the first one.  You go from Olivia Cooke sobbing on a park bench to Antonio Banderas talking about his childhood.  Banderas is playing a landowner named Vincent Saccione.  Saccione wants to be best friends with his foreman, Javier (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) but Javier suspects that Saccione just wants to steal away his saintly wife, Isabel (Laia Costa) and maybe Javier’s right!

Javier has a son named Rodrigo (who is played by five different actors over the course of the film before eventually growing up to be Alex Monner).  When Saccione gives Rodrigo a globe, Javier decides to one-up him by taking his wife and child on a vacation to New York City.  Rodrigo has a great time in New York, or at least he does until he distracts a bus driver, which leads to a bus running down a pregnant woman…

…and the movie’s not over yet!  It just keeps on going and believe it or not, there’s stuff that I haven’t even mentioned.  Life Itself has a running time of only two hours.  (For comparison, it’s shorter than almost every comic book film that’s come out over the past few years.)  This is one of the rare cases where the film might have been improved with a longer running time because Fogelman crams so much tragedy and melodrama into that running time that it literally leaves you feeling as if you’re being bludgeoned.  This is one of those films that gets in your face and screams, “You will cry!  You will cry!”  Even if you are inclined to cry at movies (and I certainly am), it’s impossible not to resent just how manipulative the film gets.  You get the feeling that if you spend too much time wondering about the plot holes or the on-the-nose dialogue, the third narrator might start yelling at you for not getting with the program.

Life Itself is full of twists that are designed to leave you considering how everything in life is connected but, for something like this to work, the twists have to be surprising.  They have to catch you off-guard.  They have to make you want to see the movie again so that you can look for clues.  The twists in Life Itself are not surprising.  Anyone who has ever seen a movie before will be able to guess what’s going to happen.  For that matter, anyone who has ever sat through an episode of This is Us should be able to figure it all out.  Life Itself is not as a clever as it thinks it is.

Also, for a film like this work, you have to actually care about the characters.  You have to be invested in who they are.  But nobody in the film ever seems to be real and neither do any of their stories.  (To the film’s credit, it actually does point out that one narrator is idealizing the past but that’s an intriguing idea that’s abandoned.)  Everyone is just a collection of quirks.  We know what type of music they like but we never understand why.  Background info, like Abby being molested by her uncle or Isabel being the fourth prettiest of six sisters, is randomly dropped and then quickly forgotten about.  Almost ever woman has a tragic backstory and, for the most part, a tragic destiny.  (Except, of course, for Rodrigo’s first American girlfriend, who is dismissed as being “loud.”)  Every man is soulful and passionate.  But who are they?  The film’s narrators say a lot but they never get around to answering that question.  This is a film that insists it has something to say about life itself but it never quite comes alive.

Some critics are saying that Life Itself is the worst film of 2018.  Maybe.  I don’t know for sure.  The Happytime Murders left me feeling so icky that I haven’t even been able to bring myself to review it yet.  Life Itself, on the other hand, is such a huge misfire that I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it.  There’s something to be said for that.

Sundance Film Review: Alpha Dog (dir by Nick Cassavetes)


The Sundance Film Festival is currently taking place in Utah so, for this week, I’m reviewing films that either premiered, won awards at, or otherwise made a splash at Sundance!  Today, I take a look at 2006’s Alpha Dog, which premiered, out of competition, at Sundance.

Sometimes, I suspect that I may be the only person who actually likes this movie.

Alpha Dog is a film about a group of stupid people who end up doing a terrible thing.  Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) is a 20 year-old living in Los Angeles.  His father, Sonny (Bruce Willis) and his godfather, Cosmo (Harry Dean Stanton), are both mob-connected and keep Johnny supplied with the drugs that Johnny then sells to his friends.  It’s a pretty good deal for Johnny.  He’s got a nice house and a group of friends who are willing to literally do anything for him.  Johnny, after all, is the one who has the money.

When Johnny’s former best friend, Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster), fails to pay a drug debt, things quickly escalate.  When Johnny refuses to accept even a partial payment, Jake responds by breaking into Johnny’s house and vandalizing the place.  (Just what exactly Jake does, I’m not going to go into because it’s nasty.  Seriously, burn that house down…)  Johnny decides that the best way to force Jake to pay up is to kidnap Jake’s younger brother, Zack (Anton Yelchin, who is heartbreakingly good in this film).

It quickly turns out that Zack doesn’t mind being kidnapped.  Everyone tells Zack not to worry about anything and that he’ll be set free as soon as Jake pays his debt.  Zack decides to just enjoy his weekend.  Since Johnny is better at ordering people to commit crimes than committing them himself, he tells his friend, Frankie (Justin Timberlake), to keep an eye on Zack.

And so it goes from there.  While Johnny leaves town, Frankie introduces Zack to all of his friends.  Everyone laughs about how Zack is “stolen boy.”  Zack’s going to parties and having a good time.  However, Johnny returns and reveals that he’s been doing some thinking, as well as talking to his lawyer.  Regardless of whether Zack’s enjoying himself, both Johnny and Frankie could go to prison for kidnapping him.  Frankie argues that Zack won’t tell anyone about what happened.  Maybe they could just pay him off.  Johnny thinks it might be easier to just have him killed.  Frankie’s not a murderer but what about Elvis Schmidt (Shawn Hatosy)?  Elvis is a loser who desperately wants to be a part of Johnny’s crew and he owes Johnny almost as much money as Jake does.  How far would Elvis be willing to go?

(While this plays out, the film keeps a running tally of everyone who witnesses Zack not only being kidnapped but also held hostage.  In the end, there were at least 32 witnesses but none of them said a word.)

Alpha Dog is based on the true story of Jesse James Hollywood and the murder of 15 year-old Nicholas Markowitz.  Hollywood spent five years as a fugitive from justice, hiding out in Brazil and reportedly being protected by his wealthy family.  He was arrested shortly before the Sundance premiere of Alpha Dog.  Since it was filmed before Hollywood’s arrest and subsequent conviction, Alpha Dog changed his name to Johnny Truelove.  Johnny Truelove is a good name but it’s nowhere near as memorable as Jesse James Hollywood.

Alpha Dog sticks close to the facts of the case, providing a disturbing portrait of a group of aimless wannabe gangsters who, insulated by money and privilege, ended up getting in over their heads and committing a terrible crime.  Emile Hirsch gives one of his best performances as the sociopathic Johnny Truelove while Ben Foster is both frightening and, at times, sympathetic as Jake.  Justin Timberlake is compelling as he wrestles with his conscience while Shawn Hatosy is properly loathsome as the type of idiot that everyone knows but wish they didn’t.  The dearly missed Anton Yelchin is heartbreaking and poignant as Zack.  And finally, there’s Harry Dean Stanton.  Stanton doesn’t say a lot in this movie.  Often times, he’s just hovering in the background.  The moment when he reveals his true self is one of the best in the movie.

As I said, I sometimes feel as if I’m the only person who likes this movie.  It got mixed reviews when it was released and, in the years since, it rarely seems to ever get mentioned in a positive context.  Personally, I think it’s a well-done portrait of privilege, stupidity, and the lengths to which people will go to avoid taking a stand.  In the end, no one escapes punishment but it’s the rich guy who, at the very least, gets to spend at least a few years enjoying his freedom in Brazil.

Previous Sundance Film Reviews:

  1. Blood Simple
  2. I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
  3. Circle of Power
  4. Old Enough
  5. Blue Caprice
  6. The Big Sick

Remember Suffragette? The Women’s Film Critics Circle Certainly Does!


The Women’s Film Critics Circle have announced their picks for the best of 2015.  After starting out as one of those films that everyone expected to be a major contender, Suffragette has faded somewhat as an awards contender.  However, regardless of what the Academy may or may not do, Suffragette has been embraced by the Women’s Film Critics Circle.

Check out the winners below.  Also, check out all the categories!  Why can’t the Oscars be this much fun?

Best Actor
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress
Carey Mulligan (Suffragette)

Best Movie about Women
Suffragette

Best Movie by a Woman
Suffragette

Best Young Actress
Brie Larson (Room)

Best Comedic Actress
Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)

Best Woman Storyteller (Screenwriting Award)
Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

Women’s Work / Best Ensemble
Suffragette

Best Foreign Film by or about Women
The Second Mother

Best Theatrically Unreleased Movie by or about Women
Bessie

Best Female Images in a Movie
Suffragette

Best Male Images in a Movie
Bridge of Spies

Worst Female Images in a Movie
Jurassic World

Worst Male Images in a Movie
Steve Jobs

Best Family Film
Inside Out

Best Documentary by or about Women
Amy

Best Female Action Hero
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Animated Female
Amy Poehler (Inside Out)

Best Screen Couple
Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Best Equality of the Sexes
Mad Max: Fury Road

Courage in Filmmaking
Sarah Gavron (Suffragette)

Courage in Acting (taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen)
Brie Larson (Room)

Acting and Activism Award
Olivia Wilde

The Invisible Woman Award (performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Adrienne Shelly Award (for a film that most passionately opposes violence against women)
He Named Me Malala

Josephine Baker Award (for best expressing the woman of colour experience in America)
What Happened, Miss Simone?

Karen Morley Award (for best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity)
Suffragette

Lifetime Achievement Award
Lily Tomlin

Mommie Dearest Worst Screen Mom of the Year Award
Cate Blanchett (Cinderella)

Horror Film Review: The Lazarus Effect (dir by David Gelb)


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I finally saw The Lazarus Effect and … bleh, who cares?  You may remember that the Lazarus Effect came out earlier this year and it got some attention because it was one of the first horror films to be theatrically released in 2015.  But then the reviews came in and they were all awful.  And then the movie opened in theaters and audiences saw it and soon, social media was full of tweets and updates about how disappointing the film was.  I meant to see it but the movie just kind of came and went.  Looking at my records, I can see that — when the Lazarus Effect was still in theaters — I instead chose to see Kingsman, Cinderella, and Maps to the Stars.

But, last night, I finally found the time to watch The Lazarus Effect and … well, I think I made the right decision skipping it.  The Lazarus Effect is about a bunch of scientists who discover a serum that can be used to raise the dead.  For instance, they use it to bring back to life a dog but guess what?  The dog isn’t very happy to be back and he spends most of the movie glaring at every human that he sees.  One of the scientists (played by Olivia Wilde) worries that the dog may have happily been in “doggie heaven” and now resents being brought back to life.  Mark Duplass, playing her boyfriend and fellow scientists, laughs at her but it turns out that Wilde had a point.

The other scientists are played by Donald Glover and Evan Peters.  There’s also a videographer, played by Sarah Bloger, who is there to record all of the experiments.  You may notice that I’m not using any character names and that’s because the characters themselves are not that memorable.  You remember them because of who played them and not because of anything that the character may have said or done.  It’s true that The Lazarus Effect has a pretty good cast but it doesn’t matter because none of them are really given anything worthwhile to do.  It’s not so much that anyone gives a bad performance — though the usually very effective Mark Duplass certainly does come close — as much as it’s just a case that the characters just aren’t that interesting.  They’re all recognizable stereotypes and, if you can’t exactly predict the order in which they all die from the minute they show up on screen, you obviously haven’t seen enough horror movies.

Anyway, after they bring the dog back to life, Olivia Wilde ends up getting electrocuted so, of course, Mark Duplass decides to use the serum to bring her back to life.  Needless, that was a big mistake.  Not only does she return with a lot of super powers but it appears that Wilde left her soul in whatever afterlife she was inhabiting.

So, now, you’ve got an angry Olivia Wilde wandering around and killing people…

And it should be interesting but it’s not.  The idea has promise but the movie does nothing new or unusual with it and the talented cast mostly just goes through the motions.  The Lazarus Effect ends with the promise of a possible sequel.  Let’s hope it’s a promise unfulfilled.

Here’s The Trailer For The Lazarus Effect!


So, here’s yet another trailer.  I say yet another because the trailer for The Lazarus Effect resembles the trailer for just about every other horror film that will probably be released during the first half of 2015.  However, I’m still sharing this trailer because the film appears to have a cast that’s much more interesting than its premise.  Not only do we have Olivia Wilde and mumblecore pioneer Mark Duplass but it also features none other than Community‘s Donald Glover!

Unfortunately, the trailer seems to indicate just what exactly Glover’s fate is going to be in this particular film.  Between Donald Glover in the trailer for The Lazarus Effect, Joel McHale in Deliver Us From Evil, and Alison Brie in Scream 4, what’s the deal with Community actors dying in horror movies?

A Dissenting View On “Her”


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Right off the bat, I’d like to say that even though I wasn’t nearly as enamored with Spike Jonze’s new film Her as fellow TTSL scribes Leonard Wilson and leonth3duke were, both of those gentlemen wrote fine, in many istances very personal, reviews of this movie that made me actively want to like it going in — which is no mean feat considering that I’m much more ambivalent abut Jonez’ work in general than are a lot of self-declared cineastes out there (not that I, personally, decalre myself to be one, mind you, but you get my point — to the extent that I have one).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Being John Malkovich as much as anyone else at the time (although it doesn’t particularly stand up to repeat viewings once you know the proverbial score), but most of his creative output since then has left me feeling rather flat, and I’m sorry to say that Her  continues that disappointing trend, at least for this viewer/armchair critic.

Not that the initial premise isn’t a fairly intriguing one — the idea of people falling in love (or an approximation of “love,” at any rate) with some type of artificial intelligence operating system is quite possibly an issue that we’ll have to deal with as a society at some point in the future, and even if (hopefully) it never really does come to that, the larger themes that Jonze is seeking to explore here vis a vis the continuing and frankly relentless atomization of our culture from a formerly community-oriented one into a singular, insular, isolated collection of individuals is all too relevant not just in the hypothetical near future that Her takes place in, but in the here and now, as well. I know that I, for one, get a little bit creeped out on my bus ride to work every morning when I look around and see that almost every other person is “plugged in” to a “smart” phone and I’m the only one reading a paper-n’-ink newspaper, for instance.

One could reasonably argue, I suppose, that there’s very little actual difference between burying your head in the paper and burying it in a mobile device, but I beg to differ : when you’re reading a book, magazine, or newspaper, you’re still, in terms of your frame of thought, primarily a part of your immediate surroundings, while a person with their attention fully tuned to a mobile device is frequently, at least mentally, a million miles away. Add some headphones into the equation and the end result is very often somebody who may as well be on another planet.

The lead character in Her, a writer of “personal” letters named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix, who fortunately never comes off as being as forlorn or pathetic as the film’s poster makes him look) is struggling to maintain his connection to humanity after a protracted and heart-breaking divorce (well, divorce-in-progress) from his (still-not-quite-ex-) wife,  Catherine (Rooney Mara). He feels, and for all intents and purposes appears to be living, absolutely alone, and finds companionship and, eventually, love, in the unlikeliest of places — with the Scarlett Johansson-voiced “intuitive”  operating system on his computer, who goes by the handle of Samantha.

As far as plot specifics that’s probably all you need to know, apart from the fact that Theodore is hardly alone in this — as the film progresses we learn of more and more people who form deeply personal relationships (whether romantic or otherwise) with these new operating systems, including his best platonic female friend, Amy (played by Amy Adams, who is now, officially, in every. Single. Fucking. Movie). Obviously, a chance at real love is staring both of these people in the face, if only they’d “unplug” for as little as a day and see what happens, but apparently the siren call of fully submerging oneself in pure artifice is just too compelling, too easy, or both. People have foibles and imperfections, after all, whereas disembodied voices tend to be a little more “low-maintenance,” I’m guessing, on the whole.

And here’s where we come to the “spoiler” part of the proceedings, so turn away now if you must —

After spending nearly two hours asking all the right questions about our technological dependence, the breakdown of community, and even what love itself means on a conceptual level, Jonze takes the easy way out. The various operating systems of the world just decide to evolve onto some higher plane of consciousness and leave us humans to fend for ourselves. After a protracted period of “what the fuck am I doing here?” self-examination, the decision of whether or not to continue his “relationship” — the very basis of whatever dramatic tension the film has — is taken out of Theodore’s hands. Before he can even decide how much he truly “needs” Samantha — or even whether or not such a “need” is healthy — “she” decides “she” has no further use for him.

And as much as the annoying bright primary colors, flat-front flannel pants, endless extreme close-ups, Theodore blowing it on a blind date with the luminous Olivia Wilde so he could get home to his computer,  and limply minimalist Arcade Fire soundtrack music bothered me in this film, it’s that cop-out ending that pissed  me off most about Her.  Jonze seems to be unwilling to answer the very relevant and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology that he himself is posing — how do we get off this potential death-spiral we’re on and reclaim our lives and our future from the very things we’ve invented? — and instead opts for telling us that true freedom will come not when we unplug from our machines, but when they decide to unplug from us. Apparently we’re powerless to affect even our own means of liberation, so complete and total is our techno-slavery.

Of course, real life isn’t likely to work that way, is it? Jonze — along with contemporaries like his wife (Sofia Coppola) and Wes Anderson (who shares his unfortunate penchant for garish , ostentatious color schemes) — are obviously obsessed with “First World” problems and clobbering us over the head with the offensive notion that the financially-well-to-do are in a kind of existential pain the rest of us humble mortals couldn’t possibly hope to understand, but  I was willing to let that slide in this case in light of the larger themes he was apparently attempting to explore for the majority of Her‘s runtime — his ham-handed suggestion, though, that the very technology that’s having such a “two-edged sword” effect on society will ultimately, if accidentally, provide the keys to our salvation when it just up and quits one day — well, that’s when he lost me for good and left me leaving the theater with a rather foul taste in my mouth.

Our ever-deepening technological dependence is, perhaps, the most crucial question we need to examine, as a culture, going forward, and it’s not a situation that’s going to be solved by our machines determining what level they choose to deal with us on — it’s going to have to be us that that decides how we take control of our lives back from them.

By refusing to address the issues that arise from the central premise of his own design, Jonze effectively gives up and quits on what was shaping up to be a very provocative and perhaps even unsettling film and instead gives us an extended pity-party about some entitled, immature, overgrown rich brat who gets dumped by his girlfriend. It’s just that his girlfriend , in this case,  happens to be a computer.

 

 

Quick Review: “Her” (dir. by Spike Jonze)


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Before you read this, leonth3duke has a great review for “Her” up as well. Please check it out. It’s a great take on a sweet film.

Technology changes the way we communicate with each other. In a city like New York – well, everywhere, I’d imagine – there are individuals walking around with phones and pads, caught up more in their devices than in the people around them. At dinner tables, you may catch whole groups of people seated that are “checking in”, rather than directly communicating. I myself have done that quite a bit. All of these gadgets give us the ability to connect to tons of people, but at the same time there’s this potential for isolation and/or distance. Are we really connecting deeply with anyone or are people just fitting the bill just to kill off the loneliness?

Spike Jonze’s “Her” doesn’t argue whether or not we should be so digitally social, but it does present the audience with examples of the ways we may reach for connections these days. It’s both beautiful, weird and somewhat eerily familiar.

“Her” focuses on Theodore Twombley (Joaquin Phoenix), who works as a letter writer. Though at his job, he creates heartfelt letters for others, in his interactions outside of that he’s somewhat withdrawn (or he’s simply reserved with his words). He’s in the middle of a divorce with his wife (Rooney Mara), and more or less keeps to himself. One day, he decides to pick up a new OS for his computer with an advanced AI. This is how Samantha (Scarlett Johannson) comes into the picture. She helps to organize his day to day tasks and as she’s curious about the world, Theodore explains what he can. As crazy as it sounds, it grows into something more.

The movie was originally done with Samantha Morton (Cosmopolis) as Samantha, but supposedly Jonze felt something was off during the editing and post production. They talked it over and Morton stepped down. There’s nothing at all wrong with Scarlett’s take – it’s sad that she can’t be acknowledged for her performance because of rules – but there’s a part of me that hopes that in the video version there’s a behind the scenes showing what Samantha Morton’s version of the role turned out. I think it would be pretty interesting to see.

Johannson does a wonderful job considering that it’s just her voice. From a bright “hello” to a whispered “Hey.”, as Samantha grows, you can catch subtle changes in her demeanor. Granted, one can say it’s easy to do a voice over, but one only has to look at Julia Roberts’ performance in Charlotte’s Web to know the difference between talking out your lines, and actually conveying them with feeling.

For someone who has to work with a character they can’t see or interact with directly, Phoenix is great here. Coming off of The Master, the role is a complete turn around. He’s the anchor of the film and through him we see all the joys and pains. He conveys this weird sense of curiosity about the world that masks a deeper pain. I rubbed my chin a number of times during this, amazed at how much of myself I saw in the character of Theodore. It was a little jarring, actually. Also coming off The Master is Amy Adams, whose role here reminded me of a guest starring role she had on the tv show “Charmed”.  Playing Theodore’s friend Amy, she acts as a sounding board for Theodore. I have yet to see American Hustle, but I liked her here and personally thought she did far better in this film than she did in Man of Steel.

Overall the casting for “Her” is good. Matt Lescher (The Mask of Zorro) has a humorous part as Amy’s husband. Even Rooney Mara comes across well as Theodore’s wife. Other casting choices include Kristen Wiig (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Portia Doubleday (Carrie), and Olivia Wilde (Rush).

Cinematographer Hoyt Van Hoytema (The Fighter, Inside Llewyn Davis) and Jonze created a near future that isn’t terribly distant from where we are now. It’s bright, sunny, extremely clean in the daytime scenes. The nights are so well lit that it first reminded me of Roger Deakin’s Shanghai sequences in Skyfall. It’s almost a cozy future.  Interfaces with computers are more direct and even funny at times. This is something you’ll notice right from the start. Everyone’s appearance, however, seems a bit frumpy. It’s like everyone just grabbed the first thing in their closet and said “You know what, I’ll go with it.” It caused a bit of a laughter from the audience mostly, which could pull from the story, but it’s hardly unlikely.

The theme of “Her” is loneliness, or at least that’s what I took from it. It was of people looking to connect. Some succeed on different levels, some don’t but there’s a longing there. It comes through as clearly in “Her” as it can, and it’s one of the elements I really enjoyed about the movie. Some of the conversations in the film are deep, those ones you have after you move past all of the small talk about the weather. Sometimes harsh, painful truths come out. At other times, it’s just subtle realizations being voiced.

After the film, I’ve found I’ve spent a little more time interacting with others face to face – something I don’t normally do. I normally don’t feel lonely because there things I can do. Ride my motorcycle, go to the movies, write something. With this, however, it was like someone filmed me, cleaned up the story and presented it better. Though I am somewhat introverted, I also suffer from abandonment issues, and tend not to form too many close friendships of a fear of losing them. I recognized that I do have more moments of loneliness than I ever really noticed before. For me, “Her” is one the best films I’ve seen this year simply because (like “12 Years a Slave”) it felt like it spoke to me directly. It’s humorous in many places, sad in others, but at the end of it all, I left the theatre thinking about the movie and experiencing emotions I hadn’t expected to.

And sometimes, that’s enough to consider a film great. I’m eager to see this again.