Posted on Monday, October 14th, 2013 by Angie Han
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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Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 by Angie Han
After a dozen-year stretch in Uncanny Valley, Robert Zemeckis has returned to the world of live-action with the substance abuse drama Flight. It’s not the smoothest ride. The film’s alcoholism plotline veers toward the generic, the symbolism is often so blunt as to be laughable, and the supporting players are mostly one-note.
What keeps it on course, however, is the compassionate but honest character study at its core. Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins (Real Steel) have an iron grip on who Captain William “Whip” Whitaker is and what makes him tick, and Denzel Washington‘s grounded performance maintains the audience’s sympathy without sugarcoating Whip’s nasty side.
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Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 by Angie Han
The world doesn’t necessarily need another found-footage horror film, but Barry Levinson‘s well-crafted The Bay reminds us why there are so many of them to begin with. The format does precisely what it’s supposed to here, ramping up the dread through the illusion of reality. Combine that with Levinson’s commitment to (relative) plausibility and incisive understanding of human nature, and we’re left with an eco-horror film whose scares linger long after the credits roll.
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