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The new film from Spike Jonze is Her, which delves into the strangeness of modern relationships through an unusual device: Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with a piece of software, appealingly voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Set in a slightly sci-fi near-future Los Angeles, the story features Phoenix interacting with Johansson in voice only, through an earpiece that allows him to stay in constant contact with the operating system of his dreams. This is no glib gag laughing at the idea of a man/machine romance, however, but an earnest inquiry into what makes relationships tick.

There’s a new trailer out today, which you can see below. Read More »

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Joaquin Phoenix Her

There’s a vast difference between simply making a movie and taking the time to develop a new idea to make a movie about. It’s the difference between franchises releasing a new sequel every year, and the work of Spike Jonze, a filmmaker who up to this point has only made three movies in 15 years. His fourth film, Her, is the director’s first original screenplay. It’s everything you’d hope for from the mad genius who brought to life Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are.

Her is a dramatic sci-fi romance about a man named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his artificially intelligent computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It’s a simple, yet brilliant conceit realized with depth and emotion, two rare traits in mainstream cinema. The depth comes from Jonze’s ideas about technological dependence and loneliness, and the emotion is conveyed as the film raises questions about what it means to love and our capacity to do so. It’s a film that’ll both spark intelligent debate and plenty of tears.

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This looks promising. The Immigrant is James Gray‘s latest film, which debuted at Cannes to generally positive reviews. And no wonder: the film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in a love triangle of sorts, as Phoenix “helps” Cotillard as she immigrates to the US in the 1920, then traps her in a life of prostitution. Renner plays Phoenix’s cousin, and the man who could set her free. Sure, that’s a pretty hoary old story, but with the talent involved it still has appeal. And coming from Gray (and cinematographer Darius Khondji) I’d expect more out of it than the basic description suggests.

Note: this trailer is not safe for work, due to some nudity. Read More »

John Belushi as Bumble Bee at Skating Rink

We’re all just going to pretend Wired, that ill-fated screen version of a John Belishi biography, never happened. (Sorry, Michael Chiklis.) But that doesn’t mean that Hollywood wants Belushi to be forgotten, and in fact there’s another screen biography brewing about the late comedian and actor.

The same project that once had The Hangover director Todd Phillips tied to the director’s chair now has a new director, and a handful of potential stars as well. They include Emile Hirsch and Joaquin Phoenix, neither of whom springs to mind as a first choice, but each of whom has an appeal that becomes evident after some thought. Read More »

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Most movies involving sentient, self-aware technology begin or end with the apocalypse. But in truth, those movies bear little resemblance to our actual, day-to-day relationship with technology. There are many jokes to be made about Siri’s similarity to HAL 9000 (and Siri knows all of them), but they haven’t stopped us from inviting her into our lives. And if we feel a bit anxious about that, it’s less because we worry she’ll go all SkyNet on us, and more because we aren’t sure what this dependence on our iPhones means for us and our relationships to one another.

It’s that uneasiness that Spike Jonze explores in Her, an unconventional love story about an operating system and the man who loves her. He is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely man who makes a living writing other people’s love letters for BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com, and she is Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the digital personal assistant programmed to meet his every need. Their meet-cute comes when he unboxes the software and answers a few questions about his relationship with his mother so the program can spit her out.

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There have been short films and music videos, but it has been four years since Spike Jonze‘s last feature film, Where the Wild Things Are. Now the director is back with his fourth feature, Her, which features Joaquin Phoenix as a guy who falls for a piece of software. Since the software in question is voiced by Scarlett Johansson maybe that’s not much of a surprise. Check out the first trailer below. Read More »

Spike Jonze's Her

Saturday night at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Spike Jonze unveiled Her. It was the first time the director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Thing Are showed any footage from his fourth film in public and it was as quirky and interesting as you’ve come to expect from Jonze. On top of that, it was also incredibly insightful and sweet. Set in Los Angeles of the “slight-future,” Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who has just purchased OS1, the world’s first artificially intelligent computer operating system and, over the course of the film, he’ll fall in love with it.

Jonze both wrote and directed Her, making it his first solo feature screenplay. Warner Bros. has scheduled the film for a November release but Jonze revealed he’s been editing for about a year and has plenty more work to do. “This is a movie we’re still finishing,” he said. “There are some scenes we still want to do, a couple scenes we’re writing that we want to shoot.” That’s normal for Jonze, though, who said some of his films have taken over two years of post production.

In the two scenes screened from Her (note: Neither Jonze nor the moderator, David O. Russell, ever explicity called the film “Her” so maybe another title change is coming) we see the first time Phoenix’s character, Theodore, installs OS1 and meets Samantha, the custom personality OS1 builds for him voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Then he screened a scene from later in the film where Theodore takes Samantha to the beach.

Read more about the scenes below. Read More »

Reese Witherspoon

Paul Thomas Anderson has a habit of getting his stars Oscar nominations, so it’s no wonder he’s got some big names interested in his next project Inherent Vice. Reese Witherspoon has just boarded the Thomas Pynchon adaptation, joining Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, and Benicio Del Toro. Jena Malone and Martin Short round out the cast. Get the details after the jump.

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