Following his impressive Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and the not so impressive Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze returns with his most thought provoking, socially aware and nuanced film yet, Her.
Her stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer, Theodore Twombly, who in the not so distant future spends his days writing about other people’s relationships whilst being unable to let go of his last one. The divorce papers, which he is unable to sign, loom over him as he spends his days either playing video games or immersing himself within his job. Everything changes, however, when he acquires a new operating system, the OS1. Voiced by the seductive Scarlett Johansson, she is the first computer programme with artificial intelligence. Their relationship soon evolves past her simply helping him with his emails, to that of a relationship based on a thirst for life. Theodore finds a voice unburdened by harsh reality that allows him to rediscover the world around him, while Samantha (the name the OS1 chooses for herself) is a mind that is constantly expanding and, with the innocence of a young child, yearns to experience all that an infinite amount of knowledge can offer. Their love feels real and proves that compatibility, conversation and understanding is far more important in a relationship than physical superficiality.
This film is surprising and exceptional, as it does not go down the predictable route of having Theodore’s relationship with the computer programme be judged and shunned by those around him. In fact, they all accept it as natural and the film even shows others engaging in similar relationships. This poses the question whether all the criticism of the digital age and the stunted relationships it forms really is justifiable? Or is it simply the natural progression of things where lonely introverts have a means to form a connection in a world that is simultaneously getting smaller, yet creating more distance between us? Furthermore, this film has a surprising conclusion where the choices made do not follow the expected course leaving questions that will stay with you long after the credits.
Her is an atmospheric, beautifully shot film with brilliant dialogue that allows the viewer to fully believe the connection forming between Theodore and Samantha; making the romance between a computer and human one of the most down to earth, believable relationships portrayed on screen in a long time.
We have always been fascinated by post-apocalyptic scenarios, whether they be alien invasions, zombie outbreaks, monsters rising from the sea or catastrophic weather changes. Channel 4’s Blackout gave us a story that hit far closer to home.
A nationwide power cut is not something that many of us ever worry about, yet it is probably one of the most likely causes of the breakdown of civilisation that has been put on screen. Compiled in a documentary style format, with facts interspersed within footage filmed on people’s phones and cameras it had a very authentic feel to it. The action was claustrophobic and gave the viewer a sense of the chaos and darkness that the characters were experiencing. Although some of the story lines were a tad predictable it was effective in begging the question: what would you do in that situation to survive? The characters went from laughing it off to taking extreme measures in the face of starvation and death.
The programme hit home how much we rely on electrical power and how, even though films that deal with situations such as the zombie apocalypse glamorise post-apocalyptic survival and inspire people to come up with their own plans for making it, the reality is far harsher and more grim. Even with huge amounts of preparation and forethought none of us are really prepared for our comfortable world to break down, and only the most callous and selfish will make it.
Throughout the show, footage from the London riots that swept across the country in 2011 were used to portray society deteriorating into utter chaos. Many of these images were already very familiar and are still as shocking now as they were then. The fact that real footage of society breaking down is readily available to us, shows that stuff like that does not need a cause as dramatic as a nationwide power cut. They have happened and will happen again.
The power cut for Channel 4’s endeavour was just a back drop to show a very real problem within our society and human nature on a wider scale. With a legitimate protest getting out of hand which was then used as an excuse by many to spread the word via technology, encouraging people to loot and commit crime, it seemed too easy for things to descend into chaos as quickly as they did. Almost as if people are constantly on the verge of it anyways. This means that Channel 4’s ‘fiction’ could easily become reality for us in just the blink of an eye and that, ultimately, is the real message of Blackout.