Monday Movies: Chick flic 3.0

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a quiet man who becomes enamoured with his computer’s Siri-like operating system in Her

From HAL in 2001 to Skynet in The Terminator, it’s always been a Very Bad Thing when computers achieve consciousness.

That sci-fi truism gets turned on its head in Her, the newest film from quirky auteur Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich). Joaquin Phoenix stars as the lonely Theodore, a writer who composes personalized love letters for a wide-ranging clientele. Once happily married but now dodging his estranged wife’s divorce lawyer, the depressed Theodore gets way more than he bargained for when he buys a new brand of computer whose gimmick is a Siri-like operating system that interacts and bonds with its owner.

Theodore christens his OS Samantha (sexily voiced by Scarlett Johansson), and gradually becomes enamoured of her playful, inquisitive and funny personality. Samantha not only reads Theodore’s emails in order to better understand him, but keeps evolving both on her own terms and as a partner. Then one night they end up having some heavy-breathing cyber-sex (which probably qualifies as a cinematic first). And by the time Samantha becomes jealous of Theodore when he decides to meet with his wife in person to sign the divorce papers, their enchantingly odd and undeniably sweet relationship suddenly begins to seem all too human.

Jonze clearly wasn’t interested in making a science fiction movie – perpetually smoggy skies and frequent images of humans unnervingly absorbed with their personal devices are the only hints that we’re a bit in the future. Instead, Her is focused entirely on the emotional landscape of its characters, and how the nature of love and need, rapture and romance, isn’t particularly changed even when computer consciousness gets thrown into the mix. That this premise works at all is almost entirely to the credit of Phoenix, who is marvelously soulful as the vulnerable Theodore (although sometimes he’s a bit too squishy for comfort). And while Johansson may not be a great actor, her persona and vocal talents are put to superb use here. That said, the premise is just a bit too preposterous to buy into. Her is well made, subtle, and thoughtful – and just like Samantha herself, a bit too self-aware. It’s been getting glowing reviews, but two movie-loving friends of mine walked out halfway through on opening night because they found it colder than a Toronto ice storm.

HER ★★★

Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson Directed by Spike Jonze

(Continues at the Odeon & Landmark Uni 4)

 

COMING SOON:

RoboCop

The classic sci-fi cautionary tale from 1987 about a half-human/half-robot crime-fighting machine blasting its way through a city full of bad guys gets what should be an edgy and violent reboot.

 

The Lego Movie

Hollywood joins the Lego cult via this tale of an ordinary Lego figure that gets conscripted to help stop an evil tyrant from gluing the universe together. With the voices of Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman.

 

Pompeii

Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) goes from zombies to gladiators in this sword-and-sandals epic about an ex-slave who struggles to save his true love from a corrupt Roman senator. Oh, and Mount Vesuvius evidently has a cameo.

 

I, Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s legendary monster gets rather improbably caught up in a centuries-old war between two different demon clans. The previously handsome Aaron Eckhart plays ol’ zipperneck, and Bill Nighy is along for the ride.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley led the effort to create a Vancouver Island poetry booklet in recognition of National Poetry Month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library publishes booklet for National Poetry Month

Collection features winners of ‘Poem in your Pocket’ contest

SENCOTEN language revitalizationist and filmmaker Renee Sampson’s short film, Bringing Our Language Back to LIfe, shows online during the Reel 2 Real International Youth Film Festival, April 14-23. (Photo courtesy Wapikoni)
SENCOTEN language featured in short film created on Saanich Peninsula

Renee Sampson film highlights importance of passing on traditional languages to youth

Most Read