Skyline Indie Film Fest

Skyline Indie Film Fest

Skyline Indie Film Fest

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“Closer” to “her”

closer 04Sometimes when I see a film it sticks with me, for better or for worse, for years.  One such was 2004’s “Closer” with the staggering ensemble cast of Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Clive Owen, and Natalie Portman.  I left that screening feeling different.  To see the cast in such believable, crass, rude, and sharp roles was almost disturbing.  To hear Anna (Julia Roberts) say “it tastes like yours but sweeter” during the mutual confession of infidelity between herself and Larry (Clive Owen) was surprising and initially off putting.  Not to imply people can’t or don’t swear and have heated, sexually explicit and intense arguments that shock not only themselves but in this case an audience; and not to imply that I’m a puritan.  It just caught me off guard to see and hear those actions and words from actors who I thought would consider themselves above such baseness.  I told everyone who would listen that I did not like this movie.  “Did you see “Closer”, yeah?  What did you think? Oh, I hated it <insert example 1, example 2, example 3>”.  Two weeks later I was still ranting to friends and colleagues about my distaste and it occurred to me, I’ve been affected by this film, when was the last time that happened?  I got excited and immediately watched “Closer” again and realized that it broadened my expectations and changed my perceptions of actors.  The film is still no home run for me but 10 years later I’m still talking about it and using it as my example of how film and acting can have an impact on an individual.

And so it goes with “her”.  This Spike Jonze film didn’t shock me in the manner that “Closer” did, it simply bored me.  I had such high expectations for “her” and quite simply nothing ever happened.  People go on about the wardrobe and about Theo’s work as a personal greeting card writer, and how the “near future” is dismal but really nothing ever happens.  This is a story told and retold into monotony and is neither new, ambitious, enlightening, inspiring, or endearing.  On the other side of the emotional coin I felt no compassion for Theo’s vulnerabilities, which were many.  He was boring, his friends are uninspiring, and his life, therefore, was ongoing tedious and lonely.  Enter Samantha who brings to Theo’s life palette a little color.  With the OS avatar, Samantha, Theo begins to experience an emotional relationship again, and all that goes with it.  He becomes emotionally attached to his OS and ultimately, as it always the case, AI forsakes humanity.  The end…Her

If you’ve seen “Closer” and “her” you’ll know I’ve only brushed the surface of the content of each.  This is not a review of either, only a digestion of what I’ve seen and experienced in both and how they have had an impact on me.  Ten years later I’m still processing “Closer” and I watch it occasionally to try to put my finger on what exactly hits me so hard in this film.  I imagine it will be the same with “her”.  Right now, I don’t like this film but I can’t keep it out of my head.  Both films garner the question; “Can you dislike a film but accept that it is a good film based on the fact that you simply can’t get it out of your head?”  Disregard the technical aspects and consider the content and onscreen performance only.  Or is it the technical aspects at work on my entire sensory system in tandem with the on screen performances?  I don’t know but I want to know.  That’s why I love cinema.  I am entertained and challenged long after the credits roll.