Another week sees another Best Picture nomination with Her. The movie I’d been looking forward to perhaps the most of them all directed by Spike Jonze whose flawless track record makes him one of my personal favourites. While his last movie, Where The Wild Things Are divided many opinions I thought it was beautiful film with a tone and mood that is completely unique to Jonze’s style. Her stars Joaquin Phoenix in a slightly futuristic version of our world where the technology has advanced to the point of almost artificial intelligence. Theodore (Phoenix) buys a new operating system OS-1, which simulates a personality and becomes a new love interest for the emotionally awkward Theo.
As with Where The Wild Things Are Jonze manages to create a mood throughout Her, with it’s drained yet bright colour pallet and unique vision of future fashion the film is just visually stunning. The look provides the perfect setting for a touching, emotional story that raises a number of serious questions about where society is headed. Her is beautifully written, Theodore works for a company in the movie called ‘BeautifullyHandwrittenLetters.com’ and with that comes a number of really sensitively letters he’s written for other people but they provide the perfect way in to this complex character and all through the film is used to give us sympathy for him rather than laugh at his plight. The love between Theodore and Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) is so well written as well, Jonze manages to capture a real essence of what it is to be in love and at the same time cleverly works in the issues that arise with falling for a machine. When the relationship inevitably hits some problems Her finds a real warm heart and whereas it could have left you feeling depressed it leaves you feeling warm yet still wandering about where the world might be headed.
Her is one of the most beautiful films you will see this year and a worthy nominee for best picture. Jonze further makes his name as a unique auteur with a talent for screenwriting that hasn’t been showcased before. Performance-wise Phoenix is just perfect and Her won’t leave your head for days after viewing.
The Master is P.T. Anderson’s sixth feature and his latest since 2007’s Oscar winning There Will Be Blood. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master tells the story of a stowaway who ends up on a ship with a group who all follow The Master’s (Hoffman) Cause, said to be based on scientology. Phoenix plays Freddie Quell who immediately hits things off with The Master, real name Lancaster Dodd, and is used as a test subject for some of Dodd’s new experimental processes designed to help members of The Cause to improve their understanding. As the film goes on it becomes clear that the members of The Cause have been trying to help Quell get over his strange psychological issues, which is quite clearly caused by sexual repression. Anderson creates a wonderful comparison between two kinds of insanity while examining the ideas of belief, cult and psychology.
The acting by the entire cast is second to none. Phoenix’s lead performance is flawless as he becomes this slightly strange bloke from the 50’s who is clearly completely lost within himself and in search of some identity and some love. Hoffman is similarly mesmerising as the charismatic Master who spends half his time being incredibly friendly and happy and the other half losing his shit whenever anyone tackles his belief system. No answers are ever given as to why what he’s saying is true. Amy Adams is also excellent as Dodd’s wife who actually seems to be a bit of a driving force behind The Cause’s cult like membership system opting to cut anyone out who does something she doesn’t like.
The narrative of the film at times feels non-existent and that’s because it mostly is. This film is not about plot this film is about it’s characters. And that makes it all the better. It is a study of human character and is left open to the viewers interpretation. Much like There Will Be Blood it is slow moving but it is paced in such a way for a reason; to make you think. And make you think The Master certainly will, I was lying in bed last night for ages thinking of what different things meant. One thing that I can be sure of, though, is that this is a great film further adding to Anderson’s sublime filmography this must be another shout for an Oscar.