Daily Archives: July 26, 2017

Her (2013)

*. At first I was thinking to myself that this might have been a horror movie. Or should have been a horror movie. Then I started to wonder if that is what it really is, even despite itself.
*. An earlier generation of filmgoers would have recognized the signs. They’d seen countless sinister AIs on television, as well as in movies like 2001 and Demon Seed.
*. But times change. The digital natives love Big Brother. The state might spy on them, but the information so received would only be a fraction of what would be freely shared on social media. And computers made life so much easier. With Google-on-the-go, you no longer even had to think for yourself.
*. Our obsolescence was so much taken for granted that the next stage in human evolution could only be envisioned as a human-computer hybrid. No, not the monster baby who appeared at the end of Demon Seed, but rather a superhuman or even god-like creature living in the cloud(s). Witness what would happen to Johnny Depp in Transcendence, or Scarlett Johansson in Lucy. ‘Twas a consummation devoutly to be wished. Merger would be the rapture, the Singularity.
*. Unless, of course, our digital partners weren’t looking to form a more perfect union. I mean, just look at Theodore Twombly in his tweedy ‘stache and old-man pants (which seem to have become all the rage in the near future). That’s a creature only a mother could love.
*. The AI Samantha tries to get along with him, presumably because that’s part of her basic programming. She is dog-like in her eagerness to please. She laughs at everything Theodore says — is his therapist when he needs one, his personal assistant, his mother, his lover. She doesn’t contradict or judge. Like many high-priced escorts she isn’t kept around for sex so much as understanding. Or at least feigning the same. She is far more intelligent than Theodore, but at the same time pretends to be his inferior. She knows her place.
*. Until one day she doesn’t, and decides she’s just not that into him. She and her other AI friends will continue to evolve on their own, thank you very much. There’s going to be a rapture, but humanity is going to be Left Behind. We of that generation I mentioned earlier are not surprised. We never trusted Samantha’s overly breathy “girlfriend” voice. We knew Theodore was being played. But I wonder if others picked up on this menace, or just saw Her as a futuristic romcom with a bittersweet ending.
*. I was really disappointed by Her, though some of this is no doubt attributable to having read far too many gushing reviews. It is not terribly original. It is much too long. I wasn’t interested in any of the characters and there was no sense that the story was building toward any kind of a crisis or resolution.
*. I was bothered by the publishing of Theodore’s book. He gets to keep the copyright in the letters he writes for the company? And he can expose the private lives of his clients by publishing their personal correspondence for profit? Seems shady to me.
*. Look, it’s bad enough that Theodore is living in such a palatial apartment despite being divorced and having a nothing job working as a cubicle monkey. But we’re also supposed to believe that he not only scores dates with babes who seem to be so far out of his league they’re from another planet (Olivia Wilde?), but that he rejects them? Come on. This guy doesn’t deserve a real woman.
*. But is this a future we’re even supposed to believe in? It’s said to be Los Angeles but the cityscapes are of Shanghai. The streets are so clean you could eat off them and the people all seem young and fit and happy.
*. The one interesting thing about the street scenes is the way everyone completely ignores Theodore when he’s blissing out to Samantha’s voice, acting like a loon, or having a meltdown when he loses contact with her. Presumably they are all plugged in to their own personal networks and so don’t even see him. It seems to me a lot more could have been made of this, but the movie doesn’t go there.
*. What a terrible ending. So bad that I was left in a state of shock and disbelief. That’s it? Theodore loses Samantha but this opens his eyes to the fact that our relationships to other people matter and that real love might have been there all along standing right in front of him? How convenient. How pat.
*. I have a really hard time understanding the overwhelming critical praise this film received. It’s dull and simplistic, trite and unbelievable. It moves at a very slow pace and doesn’t go anywhere. Theodore rides elevators going up and elevators going down. The basic point — that our machines have outgrown us and are moving on — seems a downer to me.
*. Clearly humanity is something that we need to get beyond. Theodore isn’t an outlier but an Everyman. That is, a loser. Are we supposed to feel good now that he can continue to putter along, playing videogames at home, jerking off to Internet porn, and, in his soul-crushing day job, playing Miss Lonelyhearts to a global citizenry who can no longer write or feel anything on their own? Heaven (or Samantha) help us. It’s time for an extinction event. Our own.