Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: Thoughts About The Movie “Her”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Thoughts About The Movie “Her”

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Random nonsensical thoughts about the movie Her 

What I liked about Her, disliked about Her, how much I love Spike Jonze, and some complete nonsense going through my head as I watched the movie.

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*p.s. this post was written from my phone - excuse the weird type and any other strange-ness*

I did not see the movie Her when it was first released, probably due to comments from friends (the ones who don’t live on the internet), “We should watch Her, I think you’ll like it, it totally reminds me of you.” Oh, thanks friend.

I knew I would eventually see Her, yes, partially because it is about a guy who falls in love with his dumb computer, but mostly because it is a Spike Jonze film, and I am in love with Spike Jonze (which may not be that much different than loving a computer).

i love spike jonze because he was married to sofia coppola and because he made one of the best movies ever, Being John Malkovich

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i love spike jonze because he made skate videos and music videos and because he worked with these guys

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i love spike jonze because he is kind of adorable and very talented

Enough Spike Jonze love-talk, onto my thoughts about the movie Her

The first time I watched Her, I fell asleep. It had nothing to do with the quality of the movie, I was super tired, and as I drifted off, the movie made it’s way into my head. When I woke up, I remembered two things distinctly: Scarlett Johansson’s voice and the soundtrack. I realize that’s an outdated term but I don’t know what else to call the music that plays during a movie. My first thought when I woke up was, “Holy shit that movie reminded me of Lost in Translation!”

Some did not make the Lost in Translation connection, but it was so apparent to me there were moments I felt like it was getting awkward. Aside from Scarlett Johansson being the main character, there were many reminders of Coppola and her films in the movie Her. The introverted protagonists, the Cityscapes, both shot in a post-modern setting, the chosen careers of the characters, even the soundtracks and the score felt similar to me. Here are some articles from others who agree and describe it better: 10 Ways Her and Lost in Translation are Connected and Is “Her” Jonze’s Response to “Lost in Translation”?

My second thought about the movie was, “I love the music in the movie Her”. Let’s talk about that for a minute. I love Karen O., what's not to love? Arcade Fire always makes me think of what it was like to be a teenager and in love. And Kim Deal, we grew up together. (I didn't grow up with Kim Deal, it’s a line from the movie, Kim Deal is older than me and she is from Ohio). I may run the risk of sounding like a 14 year old, or a cliche, but I loved The Moon Song, it was so beautiful to me. I listened to it on repeat for a few days after watching the film.

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More random thoughts about the movie Her

Theodore's job bothered me and made me feel like he was undeserving of true love. Having outsourced my personal love letters to India in the past, one would think Theodore’s occupation would not phase me, but it did. It was unsettling to think that someone would hire someone else to express what was supposed to be their truest feelings. Theodore’s chosen profession led me to believe he was devoid of emotion. As those letters were written, I pitied him and felt sorry the people who received those letters filled with beautiful words that had no meaning.

Theodore's chosen profession also made me wonder about Jonze. Some critics say that Jonze modeled the main character after himself and I wondered why he made Theodore an emotional letter writer? How does Jonze see himself and his own chosen profession as a writer? Perhaps he finds his own work as a writer to be equally as shallow and bloodsucking.

Theodore and Samantha - the main characters in the movie Her. Generally speaking, I am not a fan of the actors who played the characters Theodore and Samantha, but I have appreciated some of their past work. I resigned myself to Her and tried to like Theodore Twombly and Samantha but could not relate. Plus, those are both stupid names. 

Samantha doesn't have a body so the focus is on the conversation between the characters and the attributes surrounding their words. Inflection of their voices, intonation, and the timing of their speech had to suffice for emotion in the absence of a physical being. It was hard for me to feel compassion for the characters, because despite her super-human comprehension, Samantha tends to sound unintelligent. Theodore is just a lame guy and he sounded dull. The characters made me feel uncomfortable, I even found their laughter annoying, at times their relationship made me cringe - and not just because Samantha was an operating system. There was this horrid awkwardness at the start of the film, which may have been intentional to give the viewer a feel for the characters' new relationship, but that awkwardness did not dissipate much as the film progressed.

I could not empathize with any of the characters in the movie Her. I didn’t particularly like Amy Adams, nothing shocking here since I rarely like her in anything. I also 
thought that Amy Adams looked horrible in Her, a bit like an unattractive blow up doll, or resuci Anne. I did not like the weird husband of Amy Adams. I did not even like Olivia Wilde and I like her in everything. Olivia Wilde looked even more like an alien in the movie Her than usual. The only two characters who were tolerable to me were Rooney Mara and the Sexy Adult Film Star (May Lindstrom). 

amy adams in the movie Her

perhaps amy's character was modeled after resuci anne

Despite all the little pieces I did not like, I really did like the movie Her as a whole

I thought the movie was complex, and in some sense, a depiction of what many people experience in life and love today - alienation from others and turning to their mobile devices for affection. I watched the movie twice over a weekend and wished I had purchased it so I could re-watch it again.

The movie Her captivated me on an aesthetic level. The film takes place in Los Angeles in an undefined period that is in the future, a number of elements allowed me to suspend disbelief as it related to time. Shooting in Shanghai contributed positively to the illustration of future, scenes set against a smoggy backdrop of unidentifiable eccentric, contemporary architecture connected the storyline to the near future. I found myself wondering whether certain scenes truly took place in Los Angeles, or if it was a hypothetical version of the city shot against a green screen. When the credits rolled, it made sense that the movie Her had been filmed in Shanghai, or Los Angeles of the future.

The set design, lighting and visual effects set the mood for each scene of the film. When Theodore was sad, the lighting would dim and the colors on set would turn blue. Other colors were deliberately used to convey emotion. When Theodore was at work, the set was red, or when he was home the would turn yellow. Playing the video game, dark green. And at the very end, in the last scene when Theodore and Amy are sitting on the roof, there is finally a balance - the sky is a dark blue but the skyline has bright splashes of red and yellow.

photo credit: Sillyfunda Her review

Samantha’s emotional growth was similar to what Theodore had experienced with his wife. Much like his human relationship with his wife, Samantha’s emotional intelligence eventually superseded Theodore’s, his capacity to give her what she needed was limited. I’ve been witness to this struggle many times with my male friends who date younger women; when a younger female matures, she tends to outgrow a mate who chose her because she was young. Samantha and Theodore's relationship also speaks to what we as humans go through regularly - one person evolves and the other remains the same. 

The movie Her left me with a lingering sadness for society in general but also for personal reasons. As a society, we find it harder and harder to connect with one another and we are more than likely lonelier people than we were 20 years ago. On my morning commute when I see faces buried into phones, I can't breath. I've often talked about "notifications" on our phones or computers and how we've become slaves to them. There have been articles written about "notifications" and how people get a sensation of love when these notifications on their phones go off.  

Notifications aren't love. I lost someone I once cared for because they preferred the adoration of 1000s delivered through an iPhone app over the love of one. The person was already isolated, his ability to connect with others was not great, and eventually he found the comfort of his phone notifications sufficient. Maybe it was easier to take comfort in the virtual arms of many than deal with real life struggles he had with me. I couldn't possibly compete with 1000s of others telling him he was funny, wonderful, and handsome. No matter how odd his behavior got, the reinforcements were there in the thousands and they helped him in the one place where I failed miserably - building his confidence. Whereas I brought his insecurities to light, and wanted to deal with them head on, the unknown masses allowed him to hide behind a persona and slip a little deeper and farther away. He wasn't interested in reality and I wasn't interested in helping him fake it.

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