Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Apr 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

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.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Dark Magic

40 years on the movie beat in Santa Cruz
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

If you could live in Santa Cruz in any era besides now, which would you choose?

Probably the ’70s, because Santa Cruz is such a fly-your-freak-flag place. That was when free love and hippiness was in vogue. Shane Reber, Santa Cruz, Caretaker

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise