January 14, 2014

Spike Jonze's "Her:" A Two-Hour Put-On?

Professional letter-writer Joaquin Phoenix's unique emotional insights are affirmed
by his manager Chris Pratt at the lovely offices of BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com
From my movie review in Taki's Magazine of the classy little sci-fi film Her, which just won a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay:
But critics’ rapturous responses says more about how adroitly director Spike Jonze pushed their class marker buttons. For example, the normally intelligent Christopher Orr burbled in The Atlantic
Why Her Is the Best Film of the Year: Thoughtful, elegant, and moving, Spike Jonze’s film about a man in love with his operating system is a work of sincere and forceful humanism. 
One reason Her is so much less popular with viewers than with reviewers is because it is set in a future Los Angeles depicted as a serene, benevolent utopia stripped of everything that English majors have traditionally found tawdry about the real LA: swimming pools, movie stars, and fancy cars. Granted, those are the only things that the rest of the world likes about LA, but tasteful writers have always been irritated that Los Angeles was the Dream Destination of the Uncouth.
Thus, critic Liam Lacey explains in the Toronto Globe and Mail
Some things about this Los Angeles of the future are much better than today: Density has replaced sprawl, so everyone lives in high-rises looking out over other high-rises (many of the exteriors were shot in Shanghai), to the thrum of a trancey aural wash of Arcade Fire music. They walk on elevated walkways and ride a subway system and work in rooms in velvety pastels. Poverty and cars seem relics of the past. In Theodore’s underpopulated workplace, everyone is polite and supportive.

See photo above.

By the way, writer-director Spike Jonze is the co-creator of the Jackass franchise, and star Joaquin Phoenix made a hoax documentary about how he was quitting acting to become a rap star.

I don't know if I'm right that Jonze and Phoenix are pulling an expensive prank on the SWPL niche audience by making an intentionally dweeby movie, but Her is an awful lot funnier when viewed from that perspective.

Read the whole thing there.
      

86 comments:

Anonymous said...

OT, Steve, but you might want to look into why no mainstream media outlet in the U.S. outside of Foxnews covered the Crspr genetic breakthrough last year.

Anonymous said...

Steve, when you watch movies at the theater, do you usually get concessions? If so, what you usually get? Just popcorn and soda?

Anonymous said...

"No city in history has been more thoroughly and expertly mocked."

Maybe no city in American history. I wish you wouldn't assume that America is the world. People were making fun of Parisians, Cockneys, etc. while LA was a desert or whatever it was back then. And why shouldn't literary people prefer public transportation to driving? One can read while using public transportation.

Anonymous said...

"If Spike has indeed intended to pull a fast one on the critics, he’s succeeded, winning 93% positive reviews from Rotten Tomatoes while also alienating the masses."

But who's to say pulling-a-fast-one can't be praiseworthy in itself?
Maybe many critics were amazed by the trickiness and tricksterness of it all and were praising the shtick as well as the inventiveness and insight.

Anonymous said...

Wan't there a Pixar movie like this?

Wally or something? Haven't seen it.

Steve Sailer said...

"Maybe many critics were amazed by the trickiness and tricksterness of it all and were praising the shtick as well as the inventiveness and insight."

But then they should have mentioned that in their reviews.

Steve Sailer said...

"One can read while using public transportation."

Exactly.

Anonymous said...

Maybe 'her' in words is more alluring because the images are in his mind. Because 'she' lacks clear form, 'she' can be anyone that the character imagines 'her' to be.

This is sometimes the problem with movies. While Kristin Stewart was perfect for Bella, so many fictional characters have been ruined for the viewers because their screen counterparts were so off.
Take Mia Farrow the skull-head as Daisy in the Great Gatsby. Or, Fatty Arbuckle in drag in the new version.

So, if 'her' has no distinct form, 'she' can be anyone as viewers imagine her to be.

I recall seeing a talk show once where a woman who did phone-sexing for a living was placed inside a box. Later, when the box was lifted, there was a big ass ho.
So, it was her voice that got all the callers excited. Seeing the real her was deflating--and hilarious--for the audience.

Anonymous said...

metrotextual

Anonymous said...

"But then they should have mentioned that in their reviews."

With Jonze I think it's a given.
We know he's a very playful, goofy, and mischievous director.
Sort of like Terry Gilliam but better.

Anonymous said...

blade reader

jody said...

any mexicans in this future version of LA?

i won't be seeing the movie, but i'd like somebody who has, to do a mexican check on hollywood's version of LA.

Anonymous said...

"Over the generations, this state of affairs has generated numerous novels and countless screenplays lambasting stars as egomaniacal airheads, moguls as megalomaniacal vulgarians, and ordinary Angelenos as starstruck halfwits."

But the vain stars and moneymen were always flattered by such portrayals, just like Wall Street guys and gangsters never seemed to be fazed by movies about them.

Excessiveness is spectular on the big screen. What may be cutting and biting on the page turns operatic and glamorous on the silver screen. THE PLAYER showed sons of bitches but sons of bitches in nice cars and expensive suits.

And of course, directors and producers--who got the final word or image--usually portrayed the writerly types as cowards who can write the write but cannot right the wrong. Take the writer guy in THE UNFORGIVEN. Just a pathetic sidekick. And THE SHINING. No wonder King didn't make the movie. Kubrick the director mocked the writer, both King and Torrance.

Anonymous said...

that photo looks so gay.

Anonymous said...

"any mexicans in this future version of LA?"

hernandez

Anonymous said...

her, meet hal.

Anonymous said...

any pygmalion stuff?

Anonymous said...

hertigo

Ke'Avier Jarrod Wilson-Hurd said...

"One can read while using public transportation."

In most American cities, reading on the bus or train is an invitation to be robbed. Especially if reading on an electronic device.

I would say that it's probably more important to pay constant attention to your surroundings on MARTA than it is when you're on I-75.

Thursday said...

Jonze is a great director on his own (his music videos are wonderful). But like a lot of directorial geniuses he needs a solid script under him if he's going to do long form narrative films. On the other hand, Charlie Kaufman's non-Jonze films aren't so great.

Anonymous said...

metrotextual

Anon wins.

Anonymous said...

directors used to be manly tough guys.

now, there are so many dorks like wes anderson and jonze.

some are talented but they seem to live in a plastic bubble.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ7a9lMSwL8

http://youtu.be/T0GsmY_BtA4

something truman show-like.

it's like they're in their own biosphere.

http://youtu.be/oUJGR6qNVzA

And the fed is like a ziosphere.

Anonymous said...

"One can read while using public transportation."

Not while sharing a ride with a dozen typical American public transit users.

Dave Pinsen said...

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson (an early investor in Twitter, Kickstarter, and lots of other trendy tech startups) blogged about Her recently: A Couple Trips Into The Future.

Anonymous said...

A satire of SWPL?

Spike Jonze, the scion of the Spiegel catalog fortune, began his film career with skate films and moved on to music videos of Indie bands. He was married to Sofia Coppola. He directed a movie called "Being John Malkovich."
Joaquin was raised by two hippies as if the name Joaquin Phoenix were not evidence enough.
Take one look at a list of their friends.
They are hipster royalty.

Common motifs in Spike's films are alienation, loneliness, and isolation and the absurd things people will do to fill that void, an archetypal theme that resonates with the educated, upper middle class. I don't see how his latest film is any different. Insofar as Spike's contemporaries are SWPL card-carrying members, one would expect bits of satire about this crowd in his movies because that is what he knows. But it would be pushing it to suggest that this is one of the primary motivation behind the film, that it's all an elaborate prank.

Dave Pinsen said...

Your description of that sad robot wearing dorky clothes while he rides the bus in LA on his way to a book sorting job made me think of Arthur "Killer" Kane. Any chance Spike had him in mind?

stari_momak said...

You notice how America has gotten darker, white people have gotten fairer (or paler)?

Anonymous said...

Have the evil captchas really gone? Thanks!

Black Sea said...

Sounds terribly whimsical, with emphasis on the terrible.

Anonymous said...

"Thus, critic Liam Lacey explains in the Toronto Globe and Mail: Some things about this Los Angeles of the future are much better than today: Density has replaced sprawl..."

=================

I can't be the only one who prefers my own space - or, as one of my teachers put it eons ago, a little plot of rocks and $h*te - but with nice amenities and a city close by to dip in and out of. But we can't have it, so the left tells us, because there are too many people here. (Yeah, they phrase it differently, but that's what it boils down to.)

And why is that? All these people coming in in droves aren't inevitable, like the law of gravity. It's the result of definite policies. And, if they weren't here, we could have some nice suburban living if we wanted it. (I am fully aware that others have different preferences.)

It's like establishment conservatives extoling the virtues of living in the sticks as a way of distracting from the fact that they're never taking back the cities. The establishment liberals drool over city living (a perfectly valid *option*, not the must do that they portray it as) as a way of distracting from the fact that their most cherished policies are rapidly making suburban living untenable.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"And why shouldn't literary people prefer public transportation to driving? One can read while using public transportation."

1/14/14, 9:02 PM

===================

Be careful here. Be really, really careful.

So much of socio-political discourse (ie, lifestyle choices as an extension of tribal-polical identity) seems to be about saving face. You're not just homeschooling and living in the sticks because the cities are dunzo and you're powerless, oh no! It's a joyful, cheerful life that gets you closer to god! You're not just taking public transport because you can't afford a car and anyway the roads are clogged and there's overcrowding and no parking because of terrible planning/zoning, oh no! It's, like, green and it lets you read!

(That, BTW, was an attempt to show that it's common all across the political spectrum.)

It's taking perfectly valid choices (I personally get a lot of reading done on public transport) and using them to save face. Maybe those white literary types would still be taking public transport if things were better run and less crowded. Maybe white conservatives would still homeschool if the cities and their public schools hadn't been wilfully run into the ground. I don't know.

But wouldn't it be nice to have things in general better run? And wouldn't it be nice if they admitted that their choices have been largely imposed upon them, and things don't have to be this badly run? Maybe fight for some change? Show some unity?

This comment got out of hand really fast, and I mean no snark to you. But being defensive about lifestyle choices, and trying to save face, while understandable, will not save Western civilisation.

Anonymous said...

Tweesploitation.

SFG said...

"But wouldn't it be nice to have things in general better run? And wouldn't it be nice if they admitted that their choices have been largely imposed upon them, and things don't have to be this badly run? Maybe fight for some change? Show some unity?"

Naah, too late. An effective, noncorrupt state only works in a homogeneous society like Sweden (or, to a lesser extent, Minnesota). The best we can hope for is Texas--and if we don't stop immigration, we'll turn into Brazil.

Cattle Guard said...

I dunno, that kind of world run by nice people and populated by nice people would be a nice place. "And I can see us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it".

JerseyGuy said...

Steve,
Looks like the Yglesias-Glaeser types may have a fight on their hands with Los Angeles:

http://www.newgeography.com/content/004136-build-it-even-though-they-wont-come

One amazing thing that I've noticed about the Yglesias-Glaeser pundit class and its "ALL WE HAVE TO DO is pack our transnational population into 600 square foot apartments" vision for the future is the absence of children. It's not even anti-children. It's simply that children are not even a consideration.

I work at a public accounting firm in NYC. I grew up in the North Jersey suburbs and moved to Hoboken, NJ with my girlfriend (now wife) after college. Hoboken is a Brooklyn type urban neighborhood with 4-5 story buildings instead of a Blade-Runner type city. It’s mostly yuppie but it has a SWPL look to it. One thing you would notice is that there is a very small amount of children and once people had children, they would move back to the suburbs within a few years.
My wife and I are starting a family soon and we have recently bought a house in the North Jersey suburbs. I'm also switching offices to our suburban New Jersey office. Living and working in a dense urban environment simply wears you down after a few years.

Living Blade-Runner style, even if the apartment is tastefully decorated is just not conducive to having a family, outside of a small niche of people. I think the fertility rates in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taiwan could tell us something about visions for a sustainable future in which we all live Blade-Runner style.

Anonymous said...

That's Chris Pratt? I thought it was a stilts wearing nick Swordson.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see how his latest film is any different. Insofar as Spike's contemporaries are SWPL card-carrying members, one would expect bits of satire about this crowd in his movies because that is what he knows. But it would be pushing it to suggest that this is one of the primary motivation behind the film, that it's all an elaborate prank."

I haven't seen the movie, but SWPL-ism, esp of Jonze-nature, can be dorky-paradoxical. It can be an elaborate put-on AND sincerely engaged on an emotional level at the same time.

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is, in some ways, nothing but a joke film. It is a thought experiment based on a clever idea, but the filmmakers--Kaufman and Jonze--got so involved in it that the joke became serious and 'philosophical'.
And maybe this film is exploring the porous line between the silly and the serious, between the hobby and the habit, between the prank and the passion.

This happens to all of us. We may get involved in something as a joke but find ourselves so immersed in it that the joke becomes an all-consuming facet of our lives.
Someone might start playing video games just for fun but then unwittingly find himself lost in the game.
Same thing with gambling and drugs.
People easily become addicted to or hypnotized by something that gives them pleasure or fascinates them. Even if it begins on a silly or light note, the involvement can become very serious. Take the Japanese and pachinko. They first start playing it as a kind of diversion but get sucked into it as a life. They may continue to see it as just a game, but the game ends up playing them than vice versa.

Also, just because it's one man's elaborate game doesn't mean that emotions of those being played are not serious or sincere. In Vertigo and La Jetee, the main characters are played upon by evil husband or cold scientists. So, the characters are really just pawns in what amounts to sinister pranks. And yet their emotions are real within the context of what happens to them.
In INCEPTION, we learn that the couple embarked on dream journey as a kind of fun game, but the wife got so immersed in it that she could no longer tell reality from dream or other way around; and even after she dies, she remains a real phantom in the guy's mind.
LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD can mean nothing and everything.

Though I haven't read it, David Foste Wallace seems to have started in prankish mode with INFINITE JEST. But the book is like 1000 pgs long, so the joke turned labyrinthine. Even the title suggests as much. Infinite and jest. 'Jest' suggests something light and funny. 'Infinite' means something way beyond our powers.

Anonymous said...


Esp neurotic aspergery types might
trespass between the serious and silly because they have a tendency to live reality like a game and play a game as a reality. The guy who came up with Rubick's cube was both a prankster and someone who gets immersed in pranks.
RUSHMORE is both totally silly and totally sincere.
Kafka's THE TRIAL and THE CASTLE are both elaborate jokes and deathly serious.
Lawrence began his Arab venture as a game but becomes so immersed in it that it turns into passion, and he's not sure if he's British or Arab. When he first wore the Arab garb, he thought it was funny. Later, he attacks the Turks with raging tribal fury in those very garb.

And in our world, what is so cynically created and sold to the masses with utter cynicism for profit may become something almost holy to the idiot masses. I mean Obama is an elaborate joke concocted by the elites but look at the suckers who revere him.
STAR TREK franchise is like a religion to some.
Sometimes, I wonder if I'm sober/serious about the merits of TWILIGHT or losing my mind. The thing is I can never tell, just like Linus cannot see the 'joke' of the Great Pumpkin. Anything can gain hypnotic power over you. So, what seems like a total joke to one person can be serious to another. And it doesn't matter what the creator intended. The user turns it into his own reality.

Pranks can be very serious or have serious consequences for those who do it or are at the end of it.
In eXistenZ, where does the joke/game end and where does reality begin?
In HOUSE OF GAMES, the guy sees it as a game to the end even as he's killed. The woman who was played by the guy turns her revenge into a game.

Welles' F FOR FAKE is a prank of a film and yet the nature of the prank and how we may have been fooled becomes serious food for thought.

Just like the Stones 'satanism' was both a put-on and genuine, I think Jonze has a sensibility that both laughs at something and takes the bafflement of humor seriously as a kind of infinite loop. (and humor is a rather mysterious thing.) Maybe religion is the biggest joke of all but don't tell that to the faithful.

It's not either/or.

Anonymous said...

Mork and Mindy

Cail Corishev said...

Come on, you're messing with us, right? That picture really comes from the first minute of a gay porno, right?

FredR said...

I thought the movie was a disgusting celebration of narcissism. I hope to god you're right that they were just messing with us.

Anonymous said...

The establishment liberals drool over city living (a perfectly valid *option*, not the must do that they portray it as) as a way of distracting from the fact that their most cherished policies are rapidly making suburban living untenable.

Not necessarily. Many of these liberals (and non-liberals) just don't like sprawl and car dominated suburbs that stretch out forever from city centers. They like cities and rural areas and rural small towns. The suburbs are just cities that have been flattened and smoothed and stretched out endlessly and get in the way of walkable, dense cities and rural areas.

Anonymous said...

http://english.yale.edu/faculty-staff/natalia-cecire

How easy to lose oneself in the joke.

"I study economies of knowledge in American literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics of particular interest to me include history of science, gender, childhood, media studies, and digital humanities. My current book project, “Experimental: American Literature and the Aesthetics of Knowledge, 1880-1950,” argues that we must understand the concept of “experiment”—taken from the sciences—historically in order to speak rigorously about what makes literature experimental. Examining the places where notions of experiment are most under stress, I read works by Stephen Crane, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams in relation to epistemological limina like popular science (e.g. the overwhelmingly female Audubon Societies), the natural history museum, and “scientific” public spectacles like the magic lantern show, in addition to the biological and social sciences. Literary experimentalism, I argue, is not a hermetic formalism, but rather a historically specific aesthetics of knowledge that thrives best where the boundaries of epistemic authority are contested, often by the performance of gender, sexuality, race, and “popular” modes."

'economies of knowledge'

'where notions of experiment are most under stress'

'in relation to epistemological limina like popular science'

'not a hermetic formalism, but rather a historically specific aesthetics of knowledge that thrives best where the boundaries of epistemic authority are contested, often by the performance of gender, sexuality, race, and “popular” modes.'

She... or sheeeesh!

Anonymous said...

http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-1/introduction-theory-and-the-virtues-of-digital-humanities-by-natalia-cecire/

"The debates around the role of “theory” in digital humanities are debates about the relationship between saying and doing. It therefore seems appropriately inappropriate to introduce a special section on digital humanities and theory with poetry, a kind of utterance in which language, it is still conceded, may do as well as say... The poem describes a prelapsarian world of unified meaning, in which “obliqueness was a varia-/tion of the perpendicular.” Once upon a time, the story goes, word and referent had a more than arbitrary relation, and the words “let there be light” could indeed call light into being. But this originary state of efficacious language met with a Fall, called “modernity.” In the beginning was the Word, but in the early modern period the Word devolved into mere “words, words, words.”"

Reg Cæsar said...

Judging by that still, this is the film to see if you've always wondered what those Tom of Finland leather models would look like in pastels.

Anonymous said...

Nah, it's a sold film. I thought it was very thought provoking. Just cuz it has hipsters in it doesn't make it bad.

Marc B said...

I suspect this is the sincere, introspective, middle-aged Jonze, not an inside joke. Jonze lives in a cool downtown loft. He is also a very busy, hard-working guy, so I doubt the male lead is based on him. Rooney Mara's character is more like him.

This film is also a soft-sell for the stack and pack urban lifestyle being pushed by the sustainable development crowd. Former NYC mayor Bloomberg and San Francisco politicians are trying to convince us that 400-290 square foot apartments are the way to go. There is even SWPL status jockeying over choosing to live in apartments closest in size to a prison cell:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/250-squarefeet-of-heaven-in-sa-60819

The future LA in this film is much closer to modern Asian mega-cities than Mississauga, which is still much more horizontal and suburban than vertical and urban.

David said...

OT

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/01/15/nsa-maps-pathway-into-computers-report-says/

WWC heats up. The Chinese Army is involved. (From NYT via FOX)

Anonymous said...

there is loving satire and there is biting satire.

loving satire is essentially toothless and flattering.

it's like neurotic NY Jews were never offended by Woody Allen's loving satire of them. they felt flattered.

it's like homos have always been full of loving satire of themselves in stuff like LA CAGE AU BIRDOIS. Homos just hate biting satire of homos. They love the loving satire that gently makes fun of them as funny darling people.

Loving satire doesn't even have the occasional outrage of Dean Martin roasts.

Loving satire makes fun of people but in a way that makes them laugh and love themselves even more. It's so much a feature of award ceremonies. Watch youtube clips of lifetime achievement AFI ceremonies of Lucas, Spielberg, Nichols, and etc. Full of ribbing but no bruises. They are massaging posing as hitting but really have the energy of Obama's gentle fist bumps with old white folks.

Loving satire also allows the targets to laugh at the jokes as if to show that they 'can take a joke'. Never mind they are softball jokes.

Of course, one can argue that Jonze made HER consciously as a loving satire but subconsciously does feel that the people he hangs around with are really annoying dorks, himself included.

When Swift wrote 'A Modest Proposal', he meant 'modest' in an ironic way. But the kind of 'modest satires' we see today are indeed modest and lack venom and bite.


Anonymous said...

Onion is full of loving 'satire'.

Anonymous said...

Homos: Opposition to or criticism of homo agenda is evil. Mere tolerance of homo agenda is not enough. Homo agenda must be WELCOMED!!

Jews: Opposition to or criticism of Jewish power is evil. Mere silence about Jewish power is not enough.
Jewish power must be praised all around!!!

Sounds of Silence not enough.

We can't even crawl into our own 'hello darkness my old friend'. We must come out and greet the sunshine of Jewish power.

Fischer... heeeeeeeere cooooomes the Suuuuun Kiiing. Heeeeere cooooomes the Suuuun Kiiing. Everybody's laughing. Everybody's happy.

But we better not say, 'you never gimme your money, you only give me your funny papers.'

Here comes the sun; sun sun sun here it comes. We all live in a Yellow Submarine. Yay.

Anonymous said...

The problem of Chua's Nigerian Connection.

She's comparing the best of Nigeria with average American blacks. Suppose the best American blacks went to Nigeria and lived there. Then, American blacks would far outshine the average Nigerian.

Steve Sailer said...

"the absence of children. It's not even anti-children. It's simply that children are not even a consideration."

There's one child in the movie, Theodore Twombly's little god-daughter, and she lives in the only single family house with a yard in the movie.

Anonymous said...

"WWC heats up. The Chinese Army is involved."

Everybody is compu fighting.

Anonymous said...

flatire or flattering satire.

Anonymous said...

haute pee wee herman.

Anonymous said...

It's ironic how the supposedly edgy and witty people have become so earnest and solipsistic.
Maybe such people need a powerful conservative norm to struggle against and undermine. Once such is gone, they turn inward and grow earnest with their own obsessions.

When they had a powerful square, lame, and earnest society to subvert and undermine, they were genuine satirists. But without such an enemy, they have nothing to satirize. And even edgy people don't wanna satirize themselves too much since people are egotistical and prefer to attack others than themselves.

So, what had been a sharp edginess to stab and cut the enemy with grows soft and gentle. It goes from fatal switch blade to a fancy straight blade to shave oneself with.
Satire loses his fangs and grows baby teeth longing pablum.

Earnest is the new edginess. We can see it in Wes Anderson's films that are supposedly 'subversive' but so twee.
And when edgy becomes earnest, how can the practitioners even tell?
The stuff about KKK at Oberlin sounded like a Onion parody of PC, but all those fools took it seriously and so earnestly.

Lena Dumbham flashes her fat ass but then expects everyone to give her a high five and not criticize her.
When Amanda Marcotte arrived at work and expected everyone to pat her on the back for having slept with a porn star, and when no one did, she was hurt. I mean she was being so edgy, damn it, so why can't her colleagues earnestly praise her?

The whole 'gay marriage' thing sounds like a joke and put-on too, but so many take it so seriously.

We pledge to the edge of the United States of America. Obey.

Anonymous said...

Holden Caulfield was weird and problematic against a world that had problems with his problems, and that tension kept him or forced him to be real--and tough in his own way.

But suppose Holden Caulfield had been raised in an environment where he could do, think, and say as he pleases from morn to night, day after day, and etc.
A world where 'weird' is the new norm.
Caulfield was angry cuz children had to grow into adults.
Today, guys like Wes Anderson and Tarantino are middle aged but still act like teens and never have to grow up. They can play with their rubber duckies in their bubble bath forever.

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a toys r us kid. And HER is really a toy movie, it seems. Toy Story for SWPL folks.
And this 'her' is like a cool and hip sex toy since it's all about the voice and ambiance than big tit and big ass woman on video chat.

I guess SWPL wanna draw a line between white trash porn and haute porn.

Anonymous said...

We've come a long way from WEIRD SCIENCE where a young Mick Jagger gets himself a ho.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25q3hxlgvw4

I guess before the internet, it wasn't so easy to see nude bodies. Now that nudies are all over the internet, maybe it's grown banal.

So, HER is a kind of neo-victorianism. Sexlessness as the new hipsterishness.

Anonymous said...

Tree of Life...

Jeez, talk about the artist not getting the joke!

Anonymous said...

Joke or not, if such technology come to exist--and it surely will--, it's gonna have a huge impact on society and social patterns.

And it can be used as basis for lots of interesting stories.

What if the 'her' or 'him' not only soothes someone but manipulates the person to kill someone? What if it starts giving professional and political advice?
What if the 'her' or 'him' was designed by its maker to spy on people?

Imagine if NSA made a 'her' and what if people around the world had intimate conversations with it. NSA would know so much.

What if the 'her' was implanted in the mind. Will the 'her' take over the mind, like the guy takes over John Malkovich in Jonze's film?

What if 'her' came to hate and despite the guy it's supposed to serve?
What if the 'her' goes from one guy to another? Will it share the secrets?





Anonymous said...

Libs always attack the 50s, but it's like their utopia is a kind of Pleasantville.

Anonymous said...

I dunno wanna see it cuz Phoenix is one of the most unpleasant looking people at least my eyes. I couldn't stand Kevin Kline either.

Not a statement of their talent. Some looks just turn me off.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4RJYlSgDKM

This movie sucked so bad.

Hizzle said...

"Sort of like Terry Gilliam but better."

That's like saying Christopher Nolan is sort of like Kubrick but better, or like saying that Wes Anderson is like Robert Altman or Hal Ashby, but better.

Spike is a good director; he has done nothing near Gilliam's "Brazil" or even "Twelve Monkeys" which is the other David Peoples masterpiece (the first being "Blade Runner.")

Honestly, "Baron Munchhausen" alone is more jam-packed with creativity than all of Jonze's works combined.

Anonymous said...

"Spike is a good director; he has done nothing near Gilliam's "Brazil" or even "Twelve Monkeys" which is the other David Peoples masterpiece (the first being "Blade Runner.")"

hahahaha. Brazil is total crap. All noise and no music. 12 monkeys is a total travesty.

One thing good thing about Jonze is he doesn't confuse scale and quantity with quality. Gilliam is like a baker who think the cake is better with more and more cream and stuff.

Hizzle said...

"hahahaha. Brazil is total crap. All noise and no music. 12 monkeys is a total travesty."

I guess I could shrug and say it's all subjective, but if consensus means anything, Anonymous's "Ha" dies pretty quickly in the wind. Ebert didn't like Brazil all that much, so you've at least got him (or his ghost) in your corner.

Anonymous said...

"I guess I could shrug and say it's all subjective, but if consensus means anything, Anonymous's "Ha" dies pretty quickly in the wind. Ebert didn't like Brazil all that much, so you've at least got him (or his ghost) in your corner."

Take away all the circus antics and there is NOTHING in most of Gilliam's films.
I like Fisher King because it has heart underneath all the clown exterior and armor. It was as if the Williams character was raising hell as a diversion from his real pain, and the final part of the movie where Bridges quietly sets him free was sort of touching.

I also like HOLY GRAIL because it has no pretensions--and is really the work of actors/writers.

But Gilliam as auteur is just him topping one film reference with another. He was like Fellini gone stale and Tarantino yet to show his ugly mug.

And I know I'm right because even early defenders of Gilliam lost interest in him. Brazil did make a splash and was chosen as best film of yr by Los Angeles critics.
But movie after movie, Gilliam has proven himself a big bust, and even his early defenders lost interest.

True, 12 Junkies has its defenders, but it's a travesty of La Jetee. I mean what kind of a freak takes a perfect little film, one of the greatest ever made, and turn into a gaudy ugly tasteless circus?

It's also funny that he should be judging Spielberg as a non-artist. So, is he?
True, Spielberg has a problem with truth and is much better off making genre films, but he's still one of the great masters of cinema. Gilliam doesn't even come close with his artsy fartsy circus clown act.

Reg Cæsar said...



The best we can hope for is Texas--and if we don't stop immigration, we'll turn into Brazil.
--SFG

Q: What's the difference between Brazil and Texas?
A: Silly-- everyone knows they don't speak Spanish in Brazil!

Seriously, as bad as favelas are, there are a number of metrics by which our taking after Brazil would be a vast improvement-- language, cultural cohesion, immigration policy, electing at least minimally patriotic politicians.

Maxwell Power said...

I totally agree, that is, I would if I'd seen the movie. It's a piss-take, and the Ikea lamp ad was my immediate thought when reading your description of his Cyrano letter-writing pseudojob. That is interesting to find Samantha Morton was the original cast-- she is actually damaged/delicate, whereas Johanssen sounds like a trucker or the sullen teen daughter of same

Hizzle said...

"But movie after movie, Gilliam has proven himself a big bust, and even his early defenders lost interest."

I'll grant that Gilliam is erratic, but if you're counting him out at this point, you're kidding yourself. Have you seen his new one, "Zero Theorem?"

I would say that your report of his cinematic demise is greatly exaggerated.

A good example of someone who truly failed to make good on his early promise (rather than just being erratic, as most great directors are ((Watch Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" for instance))) is probably Alex Cox. He made "Sid and Nancy" and "Repo Man," and then his career and creativity both went into the toilet.

Steve Sailer said...

"A good example of someone who truly failed to make good on his early promise (rather than just being erratic, as most great directors are ((Watch Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" for instance))) is probably Alex Cox. He made "Sid and Nancy" and "Repo Man," and then his career and creativity both went into the toilet."

Indeed. Sad. Around 1986, Cox and Oliver Stone seemed like the two main men of 1980s movies. You can complain about Stone not fulfilling his potential, but Cox ...

Anonymous said...

"A good example of someone who truly failed to make good on his early promise (rather than just being erratic, as most great directors are ((Watch Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" for instance))) is probably Alex Cox. He made "Sid and Nancy" and "Repo Man," and then his career and creativity both went into the toilet."

Not really. WALKER is his greatest film. One helluva a satire of politics and history even if left-leaning.

HIGHWAY PATROLMAN is one of the best films about Mexico. (It took a Briton, and it surely influenced future Mexer directors).

Both films were made AFTER SID/NANCY.

But he hasn't been crucial since, but I think it's because he's a purer and less compromised director, therefore less successful at the box office and less likely to find backers.

He's not a self-promoting diva with slick formulas like Stone and Tarantino who know how to work the media. And he's not a grandstander, and his films make us come to our own conclusions than underlining everything. Also, he likes to be raw and spontaneous whereas Stone and Tarantino, for all their violence, are very slick formula-driven directors. NATURAL BORN KILLERS offers fake anarchy.

Cox also leaves the thinking to the audience, so much so that we can even arrive at the meaning opposite to one he may have intended.

I thought SID AND NANCY's point was that Sid, as awful and trashy as he was, was the real thing. If punk-ism was about being bad, bad, and bad, he did it his way and didn't care what others thought. In the end, he really did turn off audiences and drove them away. He really did offend everyone, even his 'fans'. In a way, the notion of fandom in punkdom is contradictory. If punk is supposed to offend, why should it flatter a bunch of people who are its fans? Why should it try to win over the critics and media? Why should it have any positive message?
Sid, it seemed to me, went all the way and died for it. Personally, I think he was scum, but I saw a kind of black integrity as with Johnny Boy in MEAN STREETS.

But according to Wiki, Cox said he meant to present Sid as a traitor to what punk stood for, i.e. that he 'sold out'.

I certainly didn't get that sense from the film, but I'm glad that the film allowed me to see the film in 'my own way'. It didn't preach or only allow one interpretation.

Stone did that with HEAVEN AND EARTH and NIXON to some degree, but most of his films are lectures and sermons despite all the rocking and rolling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sid_and_Nancy

------

Edgar Wright is a fantastic director, a pro through and through. No matter how crazy he gets, he has everything under pat. Though a visual master, his control of images has the kind of tart wit and wordplay that English banter is so famous for.

Cox and his generation brought a kind of willful amateurism to cinema that mixed elements of French New Wave, cinema verite, kitchen sink, and B-movie genre.
It was once in vogue but not so much anymore.

In fact, many indie films today look almost as slick as Apple products.


Anonymous said...

"I'll grant that Gilliam is erratic, but if you're counting him out at this point, you're kidding yourself. Have you seen his new one, "Zero Theorem?" I would say that your report of his cinematic demise is greatly exaggerated."

Haven't seen it but the title perfectly sums up his sensibility.

Gilliam is like the Salieri of AMADEUS(not the real Salieri of whom I know next to nothing). 'Salieri' is much hailed and praised by the king and courtiers, but he's forgotten in time. Mozart lives on.

Gilliam will fade. Take away all the pomp and freakshow stuff, and he's a very bad film-maker except on occasion.
Spielberg will live on forever. Hate him or love him, he's a film genius/master at the very core.

Gilliam is such an idiot that he thinks Fellini after 8 1/2 remained a great filmmaker. In truth, Fellini forgot how to make films, mistaking scale and hype for substance. At least Fellini started small and then lost his mind.
Gilliam started big prolly because, deep down inside, he knew that without the grand effects and fireworks(terrible ones at that) were removed, there would be nothing there.
It offers big buns and lots of catsup and other condiments but ...

Gilliam was fun as illustrator for MONTY PYTHON. He's not without talent as a goofy guy with funny ideas but he knows and cares nothing about stories, characters, and meanings. He takes 1984 and turns it into schmaltz. He takes LA JETEE and turns it into MTV and Circus Soleil. He has no taste.




Hizzle said...

"Not really. WALKER is his greatest film"

Right, and Michael Cimino's greatest film is "Heaven's Gate."

Re: Oliver Stone, I'm enjoying him jettisoning his didactic style in favor of purer entertainment. I like the lowbrow "Savages" more than pretty much anything he did since "Natural Born Killers."

Oliver Stone and Spike Lee are both hamstrung by their general lack of humor. Also, if the general rule for artists is to show rather than tell, they're both pretty much failures, since they love to tell.

Another director who can't get out of his rut: Tim Burton. When I saw "Ed Wood," I thought, "My God, this guy has turned the corner. He can be an adult from time to time." And then he started with a "reimagining" of "Planet of the Apes."

Same thing with Tarantino. I saw "Jackie Brown" and thought, "This guy is actually telling a story, keeping his enthusiasms in check to deal with these real characters." Next thing you know he's pulling Daryl Hannah and Uma Thurman around on wires through some exploitation-fu nonsense with a cribbed Morricone score.

Hizzle said...

"...whereas Stone and Tarantino, for all their violence, are very slick formula-driven directors."

I'm not sure this bears closer scrutiny. Some of Stone's movies are obviously over-the-top, but when I see violence in his movies, I feel that this is directed by someone who has actually seen or done violence. (Mickey Knox seemed like someone you might actually run into at a rest stop).

I don't think Tarantino knows much about real violence, in terms of experience, either witnessing it or doling it out. I know I'll get flamed for this, but I'll go on record and say that the Aussie Andrew Dominik is the best (alive) at conveying violence on-screen. Nothing I've seen in the last few decades has compared in visceral terms with "Chopper." I think the movie's a failure in narrative terms, but in terms of a character study of a violent man, it's the realest thing I've seen in a long time.

Anonymous said...

"Right, and Michael Cimino's greatest film is "Heaven's Gate."

WALKER is a post-modern masterpiece. And why compare it with HEAVEN'S GATE? Cimino got ever more pompous and spent the entire studio budget and more to make his GONE WITH THE WIND. Cox pared things down, dropped all pretenses, and made a lean-mean work playing with the notion of how cinema/history/politics juggles past and present, facts and myth. Cox was trying to de-mythologize and deconstruct political history, whereas Cimino was trying to concoct a historical myth. Cox exposed how the mountain of history is toyed around with as molehills by everyone involved in history and politics. Cimino took a molehill event in the NW and turned it into Mt Everest.

Both failed at the box office for different reasons. HEAVENS GATE was too much myth, WALKER was too much truth. Even if one disagrees with Cox's politics or conclusions, WALKER deftly takes apart the machine of historiography, politics, and mythology even while, almost unbelievably, playing them straight.
It's like someone taking a clock apart to reveal its machinations while still making it function as a clock, though a crazy one.

And the film is a marvel of self-referentiality, as if to say that, even as it deconstructs myths, it itself is constructing new ones because that is the very nature of cinema, a myth-making machine even when used to demythify.

I think it was just too much for a lot of people. Stanley Kauffmann was one of the critics who liked it. But then the fool was also one of the biggest fans of NBK. He thought people didn't get Stone's satire, but he didn't get that people saw right through Stone-and-Tarantino's boneheaded excuse for a satire.

Anonymous said...

Stone is not a satirist by nature. He's a propagandist, a myth-maker. He gets too excited to see through the cracks of myths peddled as truths.

Anonymous said...

"Some of Stone's movies are obviously over-the-top, but when I see violence in his movies, I feel that this is directed by someone who has actually seen or done violence."

From my experience, personal experience doesn't matter much in the depiction of violence. Sam Fuller served in WWII and saw lots of violence, but BIG RED ONE looked like any old WWII film.

Spielberg never saw real violence, but SCHINDLER'S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN are terrifying.

But Stone and Spielberg, while good with violence, are usually false with emotions. PLATOON with angel sergeant and devil sergeant as was so bogus.
Also, like Gibson with PASSION, Stone sometimes rubs our face in the violence. The rape scene in SALVADOR was overdone. Some directors seem to think a powerful scene has to be done as powerfully as possible, but it doesn't work that way. For example, turning a tragic scene into a ultra-tear-jerking contest actually undermines the emotions. Stone doesn't trust the audience. He feels he has to give us a powerful dose or else its effects won't kick in. But he overdoses us and we say enough.

Dominik can be a great director. JESSE JAMES is a great masterpiece. But KILLING ME SOFTLY was slick trashy crap. It might have worked as a B-movie thriller but it had to have a point!!

Anonymous said...

Jonze is a great director on his own (his music videos are wonderful). But like a lot of directorial geniuses he needs a solid script under him if he's going to do long form narrative films.

As does his ex-wife.

Anonymous said...

Ever since the time of the Vikings Nordic whites have been terrorising shorter, darker whites (alpines, slavs etc)

In the old days they did this through physical violence, later they did it through fanatical religion, and of course Nazi ideology. Today they do it through political correctness.

Of course, having lots of succesful Jews on board has greatly helped their course, but I think there is quite a lot to be said for a Nordic conspiracy to hold down lesser whites.

I think Veblen said something along these lines in his theory of the leisure class.


Notice how about the only racially un-PC thing you can get away with sayying in successful white circles is to criticise Greeks, Russians and Italians for being corrupt and lazy and anti-free market.



Anonymous said...

I liked Time Bandits. Not just in some "I'm a cool critic" manner, but actually when I saw it in the theater.

So there.

:)

David C. said...

Amazing movie!
David from observandocine.com

Anonymous said...

site web ambien cr shelf life - drug interactions between ambien tramadol

Anonymous said...

go fuck yourself with a cactus

Thomas Watson said...

I enjoyed this film much more than all the Oscar winners.