The movie of the week stars and Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with an Operating System (yeah, you read that right) and Scarlet Johansen as the voice of the aforementioned OS. But it all ends up making a lot more sense than it would seem to have any right to. And we, of course, treat the subject matter with dignity and respect it deserves…as we plunge into Her.
It’s Reel Spoilers #28 – Her.
You’ve been warned.
Based on the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County attempts to translate the dark comedy from the stage to the big screen. Packed with an A-list cast, you certainly can’t make the argument that they didn’t get enough star power. Tracy Letts, the award-winning author of the play was even responsible for the screenplay. Yet unfortunately, the film doesn’t quite capture the magic of the dysfunctional family the same way that the stage show does.
After interviewing a new housekeeper (Misty Upham), Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) disappears. His wife Violet (Meryl Streep), a cancer patient with a severe addiction to pills, fears the worst and calls all of her estranged children to come home to Oklahoma. Violet’s sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) and her husband Charlie (Chris Cooper) along with their son Little Chris (Benedict Cumberbatch), youngest daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), eldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) and husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) with their daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin), and middle daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) and her fiancé Steve (Dermot Mulroney) all gather at the house to make one big dysfunctional family.
Having seen the national tour of August: Osage County when it came to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in 2010, I had high hopes for the film adaptation. The play had become one of my favorites of all time, with fantastic acting and an intriguing story. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to pull off a movie version, but I wasn’t too worried with the cast that was assembled. Unfortunately the magic of the stage just wasn’t there. Often times the film comes off as tedious and a bit boring, whereas the pacing of the stage show was spot on. Also, the story is supposed to be a dark comedy – yet the film appears to try and take itself too seriously. The result is a bunch of actors that just come off as awkward.
At first glance, the idea of a film that revolves around a man falling in love with his smartphone might seem a bit odd. Yet as you watch Spike Jonze’s latest film Her, you realize that it is about so much more.
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a writer living in a not-so-distant Los Angeles of the future. His job is to create beautiful love letters for people who lack the creativity – or perhaps a better word is motivation. After a heartbreaking end to his relationship with his ex Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore stumbles upon the “first artificially intelligent operating system, or OS. Unlike the ones we know today, this OS has a name and a personality – and her name is Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). What starts out as a companionship turns into more as Theodore starts to fall in love with Samantha, while he teaches Her how to love.
I can’t imagine this film being anywhere near as brilliant as it is without the performance given by Joaquin Phoenix. He is in almost every scene, and pretty much front and center the entire time. There are great supporting actors like Amy Adams, who plays his neighbor, and Chris Pratt who works in his office. Yet the real magic comes from the interaction between Theodore and Samantha. And the emotion that Phoenix exudes while interacting with nothing but a handheld device is magnificent. The actor has been one of my favorites since I saw him in his first major role as the villain Commodus in Gladiator, and has continued to impress me with role after role. This may be the best performance of his career, and that is saying a lot coming off of the likes of The Master last year.
For this week’s Drawing Board, I wanted to give you fine people a look at my all time favorite superhero’s. I’m talking about The Man of Steel, The Last Son of Krypton, The Big Blue Boy Scout, Superman.
Over Superman’s 75 year history, there have been many interpretations of Kal-El. He’s been everything from an average looking man to a Arnold Schwartzenegger body builder style. The version I’ve always been drawn to is the more athletic style. Action Comics & Superman: Secret Identity artist, Gary Frank, once said: “Superman’s powers come from his physiology. Not his muscles.” That was something that rang true for me. Christopher Reeves didn’t have big muscles and he was MY Superman.
Enough of my opinions, let’s take gander at some of my favorite Superman artists.
It may be the fact that many of my relatives have served in the armed forces (one of my great cousins was in the second wave at Normandy). It may be the fact that a lot of my friends currently are serving. It may just be that I’m jingoistic to a fault.
Whatever the reason, I’ve always been a full supporter of our armed forces and am strongly drawn to military films and novels. I consider Saving Private Ryan to be among my favorite films, and I never pass up the opportunity to watch an episode of “Band of Brothers.”
I don’t aim to glamorize war. I do think, though, that those that serve honorably should be appreciated and thanked, and films such as 2012′s Act of Valor along with the aforementioned series “Band of Brothers” do their best to show just how far these men and women will go for each other in the most trying times.
Enter 2014′s Lone Survivor, based on the memoirs of Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL who in 2005 was caught up in a nasty ambush along with three other SEALs during an attempt to capture or kill Ahmad Shah as part of Operation Red Wings. Directed by Peter Berg (who directed two of my favorite movies, Friday Night Lights and the underrated The Kingdom), it’s an efficient exercise in brutality.