HER (2013)

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Love, philosophy and artificial intelligence.

Call the culture police-there’s been a robbery, well a few actually, of Oscar nominations.
Spike Jonze not being recognised by Oscar for directing and Joaquin Phoenix for his incredible acting skills.

This is not the first time this has happened for either of them. Jonze won best screenplay this year and was the film was nominated for Best Film but no Best Director nod. Strange.
Joaquin was snubbed by missing out on a Best Actor nom, a massive crime.
Now, some might say that award ceremonies are a bunch of back-slapping sycophancy fests, and that may be true, but when such incredible work is left in the dark it begs the question, WTF? It has won plenty of awards at other ceremonies so, why no Oscar recognition in the major categories?

Spike Jonze has written and directed an incredibly beautiful, profound tale about a writer, Theodore Twombly (played with soulful sensitivity by Phoenix) who has recently come out of a relationship and strikes up a new one with an O.S..
Yes, that’s right, an operating system (voiced with wonderful texture and depth by Scarlett Johansson).

Therein lies the premise.
The O.S. is an artificially intelligent program that learns and adapts as it lives, and a relationship akin to a deep human one is born.

It asks questions and challenges the audience to leave their prejudices at the door. If this relationship is making someone happy, both the human and machine, what is the problem?
Just because it challenges the norm, does that make it wrong?
History is full of these kind of events that buck the system and thank goodness.

The exponential growth of Samantha, the O.S., is also fascinating working on many dimensions and layers. When and where does technology end and life begin?

The beauty of art is the way it asks questions, sometimes subtly and others blatantly, both are valid but satisfy different tastes. Jonze opts for the gentler approach, no less emotional, but definitely more of a feminine one. The divine goddess rears her head again.

This is pretty much the best love story made in many years. It is similar in tone to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is no big surprise, seeing as Jonze had worked with Kaufman twice already and apparently introduced Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman; they clearly share similar sensibilities.
There is great support from Chris Pratt, whose star is definitely on the rise, Amy Adams, always bringing interesting work to the table, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde.

Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson create a beautiful, real, layered relationship whilst sharing no screen time together. That is incredible.
The powerful illusion of cinema. Art at its finest.

4.1/5

BUY ON BLU-RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE

AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)

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Blinded by the lights?

It seems everyone was.

What amounts to no more than an average film is being pushed into awards territory and it’s so political, it’s fracking see through.
It is not shit, by any means, just not that good. A bit boring, a bit who gives a …. a bit meh.
Unengaging.

It is too easy to slag off a film without really asking the questions that matter. What works, what doesn’t, why so, why not.

Mr Bale has lacked a sense of humour/humanity in his previous films. The guy can clearly act but it is not enjoyable watching him. There is a lack of lightness with him and it doesn’t seem like he knows how or wants to access it, here he surprises with a performance of
He seems to have softened and I’m not talking character here, his struggle, his humanity is believable and rooted in a softer reality. It’s easy to buy into the intensity with him, he does it very well, but there is always something missing, something hidden, a dark secret perchance within the heart of the actor?

Je ne suis pas sur.

He was annoying before and wasn’t in this. He was very good. Upon hearing his casting in this my shoulders slumped, a sigh, phhhrewww.

More than pleasantly surprised with his work in this film.

Bradley Cooper, on the other hand…..
He was watchable in Silver Linings Playbook as much as he was bringing something slightly different to the table, the same in The Place Beyond The Pines, but let’s be honest, he’s a pretty boy who lacks the skill to really bring a depth of sentiment. If I watched SLP again I may be less accepting of his work.
One day, he may surprise us all, it happens, but until then, he’s just another actor who doesn’t inspire.

Amy Adams is good, she can clearly act but really, why did she have to wear ALL those middle slit boob dresses in every other scene. One scene, two at tops, it was just unnecessary.

Jeremy Renner, any good or a bit average? Jury’s out on that one.

Jennifer Lawrence is great, believable, alive and sparky.

The story was just not well told, it maybe massively unfair to talk about Boogie Nights but as far as the style goes (and by that I mean, the writing, the shots, the costumes, and the direction) A.H. is not a patch on it. David O Russell is a great director with an incredible C.V. but when it comes to this type of film he is not Paul Thomas Anderson.

Loads of people loved it and fair enough, my only question is this:

‘Did you love it because it was really good or were you caught up in the maelstrom of awards fever?’
Will you look back at it in 10 years and go, ‘Yes, that truly is an excellent film?’

How it could have been better?
The script could have been tighter, the story could have been tighter, some of the casting different etc etc.

If it was better structured then maybe it would be awards worthy, but as is, nah, not working.

2.7/5

BUY THE BLU-RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE