Wednesday, January 15, 2014

When Pop Culture Gets it Right...or Wrong: "Her"

Chris and I watched the new movie, Her with quiet intent. It's the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Pheonix), who falls in love with his operating system, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). You can find any number of professional reviews online, so I won't give my two cents on the film itself other than to say it was well acted and shot, with a solid plot that moved us both. Afterwards, however, I couldn't help but state to Chris that stylistically it reminded me of Lost in Translation. He agreed.

Later, Chris mentioned in passing an article he read in which Her was not so well received, partly because the reviewer thought Spike Jonze (the director) stole his ex-wife Sofia Coppola's style. 

Wait. What? SJ was married to SC, director of Lost in Translation? I had to dig deeper, so of course I went to Wikipedia. Apparently, they were divorced in December of 2003, the same year LIT came out. I couldn't help but note that Her was released in December of 2013, ten years later to the month of their divorce. Wiki also went on to say it was rumored that the lead's often-absent photographer husband in LIT was SC's version of her soon-to-be ex. 

That's when it hit me that Scarlett Johansson was in both LIT and Her. I hadn't thought of it until then because she only lent the voice of Samantha who, as an OS, has no body. In LIT she played the lead, Charlotte, a girl trying to figure out what marriage is supposed to be.

I don't believe that the style, casting, or release date of Her is a mere coincidence. And I hardly think that SJ, the powerhouse director of "Being John Malkovich" and "Where the Wild Things Are" needs to siphon creativity from his fellow filmmakers.  

I believe, as does Chris, that Her is a response to LIT and in turn a response to Coppola herself. *SPOILER ALERT* After all, Her is a movie about dealing with with divorce and coming out alive, though never unaltered or unscathed. Even still, at the end Theodore is able to send his ex-wife an email wishing her well, perhaps something Jonze himself was unable to do until now. 

And in a world where we see celebrities duke it out in the media too often, it's a pop culture right just to imagine that this might be a conversation of emotions through art...good art, nonetheless. 

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