Saturday, February 01, 2014

Spike Jonze's Film "Her" is Thought Provoking and Engaging

"Her" was written and directed by Spike Jonze. It has been said that the best artists are not afraid to take chances. A failure is not truly a failure if an artist takes risks and makes art they believe in. No one can say that Jonze does not take chances. People first niticed his creative flair when he made music videos for some of the biggest music stars. He directed the video "Buddy Holly" for Weezer. That video incorporated scenes from the classic TV show "Happy Days". He directed "Sabotage" for Beastie Boys. That video had the 3 rappers posing as 1970's-era cops. He also directed videos for Bjork, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and more. He directed the films "Being John Malkovich" and "Where the Wild Things Are", based on the children's book by Maurice Sendak. His latest film is "Her" which has been nominated for 5 Oscars.

This movie stars Joaquin Phoenix (Theodore), Scarlet Johansson (Samantha, the operating system, voice only), and Amy Adams (Amy). This takes place in future Los Angeles. It's not too far in the future since their technology is not that different from what we have now. The film is about technology and how we utilize it in our lives. Theodore is lonely, going through a divorce and looking for female companionship. He buys a new operating system for his computer. One can choose a male or female voice for the system. Theodore chooses a female voice and it is the voice of Scarlet Johansson. The operating system is named Samantha. This operating system is not like what we use today. The future operating system has a personality and actually discusses things with the user. Theodore likes the companionship and not surprisingly, falls for Samantha. But this gets complicated. How can one have a true relationship with an operating system that is not flesh and blood?

This movie will make you think about technology. Things like social media sites, cell phones, tablets, laptops, and the internet in general give us a certain amount of entertainment and convenience as far as getting things done. But they also have made us depend on technology to the degree that we do not have as many personal, one-on-one, face-to-face interactions. Some people work from home, some never set foot in a bank since they can do everything online, some do not call others, they only e-mail or text. How many people on your Facebook friends list are true friends that you actually see on a regular basis? How many of them are people you have not seen in 10, 15 or 20 years? How many times have you seen someone at an event who is too occupied by taking pictures, taking videos or spending time on their cell phone to pay attention to the event? What do you value more, talking to someone in person or talking via e-mail or on a social media site? Some get obsessed with a virtual world since in a virtual world of video games or websites we are protected, we can't get hurt. Technology has led us to crave the attention and approval of others. People want others to notice their Facebook posts or tweets. People are less private than they used to be, often sharing everything online. Technology is not going away. There is no turning back. We are in too deep. Our technology has brought us together in certain ways, but I think it has also split us apart and it has isolated us in many respects.

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