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Oct 10th
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Major Upgrade

film HerRelationship and connection venture into uncharted territory in the powerfully moving tale that is ‘Her’

We live in an era where our interactions and repeated behaviors with our electronic devices suggest a strong sense of devotion to them. More often than not, we hold our smart phones more than we do other people, or we hold our gaze upon computer screens with far more determination and presence than we do if we were sitting across from another person. Two human beings meeting for, say, coffee, might become distracted and eventually find themselves being more committed to making a connection to their electronic device than remaining present in the conversation taking place in front of them. It is no stretch by any means to suggest that most individuals in the 21st century are already having some type of relationship with their electronic pals.

That may be a sobering reality to fully grasp and process, but bless screenwriter/director Spike Jonze for using it as a premise and running with it. In Her, he creates a tale in the near-future that explores several things with haunting depth: To what degree do we connect with others; how deep are we willing to go—and why—and what is it that makes us connect with somebody (or in this case, some “thing”) in the first place? Is it derived from within us? The other entity?

What is connection?

Set in smoggy, high-rise-ridden Los Angeles, we follow Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a surrogate letter writer—seems the original way of doing it got tossed aside years ago—who purchases a new OS (Operating System). Through Bluetooth-like technology, it allows him to, at any time, connect to the female voice managing his electronic world and then some—think Siri with more panache and personality. The OS voice is given a name—Samantha (Scarlett Johansson)—and is über efficient. She also comes across as playful and lighthearted and, in time, surprisingly vulnerable. After scouring Theodore’s personal files—i.e. life—she quickly assesses as much as she can about him, only to later crack jokes, make him laugh or ponder the philosophical.

All of this surprises Theodore, who is still licking the wounds of a failed marriage, and in a relatively short time, the two interact more regularly. Eventually. Samantha expands her, say, field of consciousness and she and Theodore reach a new level of emotional intimacy. Naturally, this poses an immediate dilemma. Samantha is, after all, a computer program, which processes data, but we soon learn, she has the ability to process much more than that. Let’s just say she reconstructs the meaning of Artificial Intelligence.

Theodore finds support in his curious odyssey through his coworkers and friends, most notably his neighbor, played by Amy Adams. The film also does a remarkable job showcasing the future it is set in—everything from the styles of the day to the modern ways in which people are living.

That Jonze manages to pull all of it off to the superb ends he does, without having the film devolve into a screwball comedy, further illuminates the brilliance of the man already revered for making Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where The Wild Things Are. This is by far another career-defining turn for Phoenix as well. And Johansson creates a, for lack of a better term, full-bodied, Samantha—a true presence capable of capturing our attention and keeping us invested.

Only a handful of love stories over the last decade stand out for their courage to explore love and connection with such unwavering honesty. Her is one of those stories, and it unspools in a kind of ethereal subtlety that keeps you thinking about it long after you leave the theater.

HER ★ ★ ★1/2 (out of four) With Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara. Written and directed by Spike Jonze. Rated R. 120 minutes.

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Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


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