HER - **** (126 minutes)

 January 7, 2014
Most years there is at least one major Academy Award nominee that is a sure bet to win.  This year, one of my predictions is writer/director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where The Wild Things Are) for Best Original Screenplay.  I will be shocked if he is not accepting this Oscar on March 2.
However, there is more to this perfect film than its excellent humorous, but troubling, innovative screenplay.  Namely, it all falls apart if the lead character cannot successfully carry the ideas Jonze have incorporated.  Luckily, he has selected the extremely talented Joaquin Phoenix who paints a subdued spot-on totally believable portrait of a lonely dude searching for the perfect mate sometime in the near future. 
The movie immediately introduces us to Theodore Twombly, a former magazine writer whose day job with BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com consists of writing Hallmark-like love letters for other folks.  Right off the bat, Jonze is laying the story's central foundation of an increasingly non-communicative world by depicting Theodore creating surrogate letters using computer script. 

Lonely and separated from his spouse, he installs a newly created Artificial Intelligent computer Operating System and its resident voice Samantha (sexually supplied by Scarlett Johannson).  Think iPhone's Siri with a breathless alluring persona. 

Slowly, despite the obvious lack of physicality, Samantha's intelligence and sensitivity for Theodore results in his realization of just how perfect this new companion is by supplying what has been missing in his life. 

Amy Adams and Rooney Mara play brief roles as Theodore's platonic friend and separated wife, respectively.  And effective cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) as well as an outstanding production design by K. K. Barrett, costume design by Casey Storm and score by pop group Arcade Fire are each particularly worth noting.

My favorite all-time film remains Stanley Kubrick's 2001:  A Space Odyssey whose central character was a computer that was created to assist future astronauts-replete with human emotions and feelings.  It has taken over 45 years since this cinematic landmark for Jonze to refine that concept by presenting a comment on the current human condition that subtly emphasizes the uneasy direction our interpersonal relationships are becoming.

We are all aware how the exponential proliferation of the Internet, texting, Twitter, Facebook, etc. have resulted in our human connections becoming ever more impersonal, distant and unfeeling.  The question is:  Where is all this heading?

Jonze answers this will an entertaining yet troubling look not too far down the road as computers become more and more human than mindless pieces of metal.  Instead of the script and acting falling into a screwball comedy genre, Her instead makes us deeply think and contemplate what the future may hold as humans become increasingly dependent on technology instead of each other.

Upcoming this Friday:  Pre-AA Rambling Thoughts/Predictions 
Amy (Amy Adams) and Theodore (Joaquim Phoenix)
 discuss his growing fascination with the voice of  his
 computer's new operating system


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