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January 10th, 2014

Movie Review - her

her



Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Matt Letscher, Olivia Wilde, Artt Butler, May Lindstrom, and more.


Directed by: Spike Jonze Written by: Spike Jonze Cinematography by: Hoye Van Hoytema Music by: Arcade Fire Additional Music by: Owen Pallett


Premise: Still suffering after the unexpected end of his marriage, Theodore is depressed and in denial. When he sees an ad for a new artificial intelligence OS, he buys it in the hopes of gaining a companion, even if only a programmed one. 'Samantha' however, ends up becoming more than he ever expected. (Rated R)


Review:


1)  Acting - Thumbs Up: Joaquim Phoenix did a good job as the emotionally stunted and unhappy Theodore, and an even better one projecting against a tiny, portable electronic device. Scarlett Johnasson was fabulous as the voice of Samantha, her voice came across so filled with emotion it didn't matter that she wasn't physically there.


2) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The story of Theodore and his growing relationship with Samantha is very much an introspective on what makes relationships, but also the definitions of what make us human. This film definitely won't be for everyone, as it is very subjective, and much is left for the audience to decide or envision.


The pace was slow, though I didn't find it inordinately so. The science was a little 'iffy', but again not overtly so. There were many moments filled with humor, and several scenes where something normal was made surreal.


Theodore's job was mind boggling - getting paid to write (with minimal information) other people's letters to family, spouses, and friends. Some of them had been hiring the firm for so long, Theodore helped build the back story to details or affectations they looked back at fondly years later.


Oddly, while incredibly expressive in these letters, in his own life, Theodore is unable to express himself well at all.


Various themes run solidly through the story, most circling around relationships. The next biggest one is not obvious right away, but takes center stage by the end of the film - personal growth.


One of the most endearing characters in the film was voiced by Spike Jonze himself - a little alien boy from Theodore's 3D game. Watching Theodore, the alien boy, and Samantha all interact together was an unexpected treat.


3) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Set in the near future, the choices for locations for the different scenes were excellent. Theodore's apartment has a fantastic view, as if he can see the world but is protected from it by the glass around him. His furniture and decor were half hazard, as if it too suffered from his malaise.


There are vistas from Shanghai and California, and many of them taken from outstanding vantage points. What was around Theodore whenever he ventured out was as entertaining, and sometimes more so, than what was going on.


4) Music - Total Thumbs Up: I totally loved how they integrated the music accompanying the film into the story itself. They did this by making them selections Theodore made, or music created by Samantha to preserve poignant moments. It all fit very well.


Conclusion: "her" is a deep introspective on relationships and personal growth. It's also an odd film. Some will find it worthwhile, but others wont. Either way though, it was definitely thought provoking.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better for Matinee)  

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic
www.gloriaoliver.com

Novels


JEWEL OF THE GODS

(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!


Excerpt:
"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."





INNER DEMONS

(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!


Excerpt:
The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."



THE PRICE OF MERCY

(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Excerpt:

Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.




CROSS-EYED DRAGON TROUBLES
(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”

Excerpt:

“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.



WILLING SACRIFICE
(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”

Excerpt:

Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”



IN THE SERVICE OF SAMURAI
(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”

Excerpt:

Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.



VASSAL OF EL
(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”

Excerpt:

Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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