In writer-director Spike Jonze’s Her, Joaquin Phoenix plays the man some of us might turn out to be in twenty or thirty years. Burdened by the constant bombardment of “connection” and “engagement,” Theodore Twombley is perpetually alone, at least in his own mind. Even though he knows his life is stuck in neutral, he feels too threatened by his own sorrows to make any meaningful strides in the right direction. But technology hasn’t hollowed him out. In fact, Theodore radiates empathy and compassion, even when he doesn’t know where or how to direct it.
That’s the contradiction at the heart of this marvelous film, a richly imagined exploration of the nature of relationships and a study in the futility of rejecting technological progress. Her offers a vision of the future that’s both radically different from our world and very much the same. Theodore’s central quandary – is my relationship with an artificially intelligent operating system “real”? – is just a logical extension of our own uncertainty about knowing and connecting with others. As we place our trust in manmade machines that take on lives of their own, we’re simply transferring the central questions of human existence into a more palatable outlet. In the not-so-distant future of Her, those central questions remain the same, even though they’ve evolved on the surface.
Listen to Episode 19 of The M&M Report here.
This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I talked about two pieces of entertainment with female-centric titles: HBO’s Girls and Spike Jonze’s Her. It’s only fitting that we also brought in two women to talk with us!
First, The Eagle news assistant Lindsay Sandoval joined us to discuss the new season of Girls, the strange appeal of Adam Driver and the validity of the controversies surrounding the show.
After that, we welcomed The Eagle student life editor Chloe Johnson to discuss the romantic drama Her, the first film both written and directed by Spike Jonze. All three of us like the movie and recommend you see it instead of choosing from the January trash heap (That Awkward Moment and Labor Day, just to name two).
Next week, we’re happy to finally welcome The Eagle sports editor Eric Saltzman to talk about the Super Bowl, the Olympics and whatever else is on our minds.
In the meantime, make sure to listen to Chloe’s first appearance on Episode 8 of the podcast. Until next week…thanks for listening!
Click through for the time breakdown.
Below, you’ll find my ranked list of every new movie I saw in 2013. (I saw many of them in theaters, some on DVD and Netflix and a few of them in advance screenings.) If it’s not on this list, I haven’t seen it.
First, a few notes: these rankings are really quite arbitrary. I’m happy with the first few at the top and the bottom, but in between, I could make a case for bumping almost every movie up or down one or two slots. I wrote this list to give you a sense of what I enjoyed at the movies in 2013. My hope is that you’ll start at the top of the list and find a few movies worth checking out, or you’ll disagree with my rankings and we can have a discussion about the relative merits of your favorites and mine.
On with the list!