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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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Just months after releasing his last film, The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson is set to get behind the camera once again. His next film Inherent Vice, based on the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same title, will reportedly start filming this month having recently received financing from Warner Bros. Joaquin Phoenix will star in a role once earmarked for Robert Downey Jr., as a pot-smoking detective in 1960s Los Angeles who finds himself wrapped up in a labyrinthine crime plot. Anderson’s regular DP, Robert Elswit is also back on board, after taking a hiatus for The Master. Read more below. Read More »

A Thomas Pynchon novel is really, truly headed to the big screen from a reputable director. And that director is Paul Thomas Anderson — what a wonderful world this is!

Anderson took quite a long time to finance, make and release The Master, which hit theaters five years after his previous film, There Will Be Blood. But if there’s any justice, his follow-up to The Master could hit in 2014. Reports now say that he plans to shoot Inherent Vice, based on Pynchon’s novel, this spring. We knew he wanted to shoot the film this year, but we’ll be excited every time the start date gets closer to finalization. That’s quite a shortened turnaround time for the director.  Read More »

It’s not every actor that can steal a scene right out from under Philip Seymour Hoffman’s nose, but in The Master, Joaquin Phoenix did just that. No wonder, then, that director Paul Thomas Anderson is eager to reunite with him on his next movie. Phoenix is now in talks to join Anderson’s Thomas Pynchon adaptation Inherent Vice, replacing long-attached star Robert Downey Jr. Read more about the casting updates after the jump.

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An image recurs throughout The Master: a ship’s wake, white and blue water churning as the camera — really the mind’s eye of the dissolute Freddie Quell — stares not exactly into the past, but into the creation of the past. He fixates at the roil and the churn, staring at nothing rather than directly examine the choices and impulses that created him.

Freddie is an animal; or a sensualist, to be more generous. He does what he feels like doing, and what he feels is visible in every line of his face, and every glint of his wary, shaded eyes. He likes to drink, and he likes to fuck, and he likes to pretend that none of it really matters, and that his impulses have never cost him anything. As Freddie, Joaquin Phoenix channels every bit of his own individual oddness and intensity to create a character that is whole, and unique. Phoenix is an incandescent screen presence.

The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s sixth feature film, is a portrait of Freddie as one half of a whole. It is not a conventional narrative. Such as it is, the plot is barely more than an outline. Designed with sublime attention to detail by regular David Lynch and Terrence Malick collaborator Jack Fisk; scored with nervy yet sweeping themes by Jonny Greenwood; and photographed with exquisite tenderness by Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master is the rare modern film that feels like the product of old studio craftsmanship.

In moments, Anderson’s new work can be maddening, dull, even vacuous. But subsequent moments can be quietly provocative as the film tries to understand friendships, and relationships that trade in power, and even the nature of faith. The tentative plot is a boon. Free of responsibilities to any standard story structure, Anderson’s characters can circle and dance around one another without concerns about resolving dangling threads. The Master is mesmerizing, and beautiful. Read More »

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