Sunday, January 12, 2014


Spike Jonze's Her is an interesting cinematic conceit about our dual fixation with detachment and intimacy. For his fourth major feature film, Jonze has crafted the quasi-futuristic tale of a divorcing ghost writer named Theodore Twombley (Joaquin Phoenix), who pens and sends fulsome love letters for the tongue-tied. He's a masterful wordsmith regarding other people's ardor but has difficulty managing his own. Theodore's brilliant though self-flagellating wife, Catherine, (Rooney Mara) has left him confused and introspective, a common characteristic of the people in Jonze's highly cerebral films (Being John Malkovitch and Adaptation.). When he purchases a new sentient operating system to organize his home and his life, Theordore meets the system's spectral personality, Samantha (the voice of Scarlett Johansson), who beguiles lonely Theodore and is beguiled by him. Their romance is touching and sparkling with newness but, as one might expect, not without complications. The world Jonze has created in this film is lousy with folks in high-wasted, belt-less trousers sporting earbuds that are connected to OS's that weed their email, joke with them and line up dates for them. Brave New World? So, Theodore's "relationship" with Samantha doesn't raise an eyebrow and for some -- neighbor Amy (Amy Adams) -- is envied. As with Jonze's other major pictures (he's also directed short films and music videos), I found Her intriguing and intellectually stimulating but not especially warm and affecting. Recommended.

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Queen & Slim

In the soon to be iconic photograph from Melina Matsoukas's distressing Queen & Slim, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith...