Monday, March 24, 2014


It’s the Joaquin Phoenix show and he’s incredible

Joaquin Phoenix and Dexter Contemplate His New OS
     We avoided seeing Her because it sounded so goofy and I felt like I had seen it after the parody Jonah Hill performed with Michael Cera on SNL.  However, Carole and Tom really enjoyed it.  Yes, it’s about a guy who falls in love with the voice of his computer operating system.  Yes, it’s set in a near
future L.A. that looks Asian (it was filmed in Shanghai) and under-populated, though with quite a few Asian extras for L.A. Yes, Spike Jonze wrote and directed it so there’s that quirky and unconventionally touching tone. 

On Location in Shanghai
     Joaquin Phoenix amazes as Theodore Twombly, who writes personal cards for people and whose wife is leaving him.  He’s the essence of schlub and almost painful to watch because he gets into this character so deep emotionally and never comments on him.  Much has been made about Scarlett Johansson voicing Samantha, the operating system, and she’s good, but over-rated because straight, middle-aged guys that make and review movies are so into her.  I wasn’t even listening to her half the time, but watching Phoenix.  His acting is so pure in this that his face reveals layers of emotion without any dialogue.  

Phoenix as Theodore Twombly
     It reminded me of Gong Li in Farewell, My Concubine (1993) when I gave up on reading the subtitles in her scenes and just watched her, which told me everything I needed to know.  Why isn’t she a star in the U.S.?  Why Phoenix wasn’t up for the Oscar is beyond me.  There are more leading male roles than female and the reasons for this are myriad and sexist.  Leading men and supporting women are the most competitive acting categories.  

Art Direction by K.K. Barrett
     The plot may seem like a perverse joke at first, but it deepens until it becomes a genuine romance.  The relationship is fully worked out on a number of levels and is taken through all of its stages.  There’s a perfectly modulated score by Arcade Fire and some elegant, vibrant performances by Chris Pratt, Amy Adams, and Olivia Wilde.  

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