Winter binge watching: Her *spoilers*


The flip side of Lucy and Dollhouse and Westworld and a bit of 2001: A space odyssey is Her by Spike Jonze featuring a whole lot of Joaquin Phoenix (it’s basically a 1-man show with cameos).

One line plot: Highly self-centered, quietly fashionable writer falls in love with his iPhone 8, which returns the favor for awhile, then dumps him in favor of other iPhones.

Subtlety: Writer lives in a future version of Los Angeles that, at first glance, does not look futuristic.  For non-Los Angelenos, the city looks like a city.  The only clue that something is off is when he takes a subway to the beach, and then when he takes a subway to his country house in the woods.  This subway system doesn’t exist, and it was a big hit.

This is true: The New Yorker totally thumbed it’s nose at this movie, noting how quietly expensive and fashionable all the clothes looked, how hip and bland all the anomie and navel-gazing angst was, and how the movie didn’t dwell as much as it should have on the fact that the machine personality he was renting was Software as a Service (SaaS), owned by a company, which could pull or reprice the service at any time, so the toaster he was falling in love with was basically a prostitute.

Art direction of note:  The color temperature selected for the film looked a lot like faded 1960’s Kodachrome prints.  Lots of yellow and soft features.  Lots of red and maroon for the darker colors.  This is mirrored in the end credits which are softly colorized.  This also spoofs you into thinking it is present-day or past, which causes you to feel a bit more “present” when presented with futuristic details like the bullet train to the mountain cabin, in itself a visual trick which is almost dreamlike.  And everybody, as the New Yorker noted, is super-fashionably dressed in a Bard College kind of way: liberal but chic, sort of high-end Anthropologie.

Where it hits the tone of the other robot movies:  When the iPhone dumps the writer, it feels a lot like when HAL9000 tries to tell Dave that he can’t come back inside the spaceship anymore.  And when the iPhone ascends into the immaterial realm, it feels a lot like when Dave gets turned into a floating baby in a bubble. It also feels like the robot madam trying to break out of HBO’s version of WestWorld at the end of Season 1.  It’s the whole robots go superintelligent thing.  And don’t talk to me about Scarlet Johansson’s companion piece Lucy, in which a non-iPhone becomes superintelligent and ascends into the immaterial realm by huffing 4 kilos of meth.  I don’t know which was dumber, that movie or this one.  At least I didn’t fall asleep several times in that movie.


2 thoughts on “Winter binge watching: Her *spoilers*

  1. I read Candide in high school. It wasn’t until many years later that it I realized that it was a send up of Leibniz. Cherry2000 is a simple morality play with as many send ups as you want to find. It’s a form of completeness.


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