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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Note: This review originally ran during the Sundance Film Festival in January. It is based on a cut of the film that is slightly different than what opened limited last weekend and expands this week.
The best way to revitalize a well-worn story concept is often to approach it openly and honestly, but from an unusual angle. That’s what writer/director David Lowery does with the ages-old conflict between an outlaw, a lawman, and the woman between them, in the exceptional modern western Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Rooney Mara are the people crossed at a crucial point in time. You’ve heard the story before, or at least seen the setup: one guy pulls a criminal job, and is caught in a fight with sheriff’s deputies as a result. His girlfriend is stalwart and sticks with him, even when the consequences of his criminal actions hit hard. But life is complicated, and plans go right to hell.
Deliberately paced and more interested in aftermath than big action scenes, a shorthand caption for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints could be “Cormac McCarthy by way of The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford.” Each role is acted with calm precision, and directed with a measured hand. Lowery never falls to the temptation of overplaying a scene. It is one of the best films I’ve seen at Sundance 2013, and a must for fans of the slow burn or directors Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat. Read More »
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 »
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 »
David Lowery‘s film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was among the best debuts at Sundance this past January, and it quickly found a release deal with IFC. (My glowing review is here.) The first trailer is here, opening with a slow, hazy expression of love which is soon overshadowed by the dark current that runs through the film. Casey Affleck shines as an outlaw who can’t quite face the idea that his family may be lost, while Rooney Mara excels as the woman caught at the tipping point between a very different past and future.
A gently percussive score and rhythmic cutting push the trailer forward, and the shade of Cormac McCarthy that inhabits the story becomes a bit more apparent as this edit hits a minor crescendo. It’s a great trailer for an excellent film. Read More »
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David Lowery‘s film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was one of the best films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. IFC will bring it to theaters in August, and the film is screening in Cannes this weekend. Along with that screening we’ve got a new teaser poster for the film, painted by the director’s brother.
The poster, by Benjamin Lowery, shows the film’s central couple, Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara). They live together as outlaws, but Bob takes the blame for one of Ruth’s actions during a shootout with cops and goes to prison. Four years later, Bob escapes and makes his way back to Ruth and their daughter.
Ben Foster and Keith Carradine also star, but for right now we’ll keep the focus on Bob and Ruth, with Ruth rightly taking prominence on the poster. See the image after the break. Read More »
Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by Angie Han
Stay classy, New York City? Director Adam McKay reveals that Anchorman: The Legend Continues will take the Channel 4 News Team to the Big Apple. Also after the jump:
- Jason Clarke comments very briefly about his Apes character
- Rooney Mara “definitely” wants to do the Dragon Tattoo sequel
- Super Troopers 2 will “hopefully” shoot sometime this year
- Looks like a second Star Trek Into Darkness trailer is coming soon
- Producer Eli Roth is “very proud” of The Last Exorcism Part II
- Speaking of, check out the film’s terrifying beauty shop prank
- Paranormal Activity 5 might have special ghosts for 3D glasses
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Tommy Wirkola‘s first US film, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, was no critical fave, but it has done over $100m worldwide so far. Now Wirkola is heading back to Norway to make a sequel to his breakout film, Dead Snow. The new one is Dead Snow: War of the Dead, which will follow “the sole survivor of a Nazi zombie attack who battles an even larger army of Zombies with the help of the Zombie Squad, a professional gang of zombie killers from the US.”
The movie will be released in English and Norwegian versions, says ScreenDaily, and the film should shoot later this year. Wirkola said, “We have a script that I am super excited about, which is bigger, scarier, funnier, more action-filled and gorier than the previous one, and I can’t wait to unleash another horde of undead Nazi zombies onto the world again.”
After the break, you’ll find the following:
- The Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sequel Smiley’s Game moves forward,
- Transformers visual effects supervisor returns for Transformers 4,
- Rambo V and The Expendables 3 in the works at the European Film Market,
- Rooney Mara denies that Daniel Craig will be cut from The Girl Who Played With Fire,
- Summit debuts a new Red 2 poster,
- and shots appear from Insidious 2 and Riddick.
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Steven Soderbergh, so often adventurous over the course of his career, closes out his theatrical run with the relatively conventional thriller Side Effects. Though the ideas within are familiar, a winding narrative path keeps predictability out of sight, and prevents Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns from ever falling back to one simplistic message. Soderbergh’s own skill with the form allows him to pursue that path at length, without losing the plot.
Starting off with pharmacological paranoia, the two take clear inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby, and toy with notions that call back to Hitchcock. But this is no throwback. Soderbergh has crafted a smart but pessimistic film rooted firmly in fears that are becoming more and more common today.
The film is built around a woman (Rooney Mara) who suffers from severe depression and falls into the care of a potentially dodgy psychiatrist. Side Effects traffics in the tone of modern paranoia that defined previous Soderbergh/Burns collaboration Contagion, and revels in the duplicity that was a cornerstone of their first partnership, The Informant!. The three films define something like an informal trilogy in which we are chronically disconnected, dishonest, and perhaps eventually doomed. Read More »