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The Socially Acceptable Insanity Of ‘Her’

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Written By: Darryl Griffiths 

Letters. To my Chris. To my Christine.

A dying art in a futuristic L.A. Once, one’s hand weaving fluidly befitting of the phrase ‘poetry in motion’, as raw emotions spill onto the page. Now, the well-intentioned idealism of their message frantically typed and manufactured by an intelligible, yet no less affectionate other. Commercialism that invades our senses and our pockets, in a technologically advanced, financially challenging climate. Consumption of the materialistic devices we clamour for, waiting on our every need, every urge no matter how cheap or extravagant.

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is the lonely heart that speaks to many. The softly spoken, almost pensive demeanour as he eloquently utters his craft. The distinct sadness that lurks deep behind those ‘puppy dog’ pupils. The regular call of ‘PRINT’ to complete a task, yet the ‘COPY’ function of replicating such passion within the confines of a loving relationship remains a fantasy. Pressing the button to play out a ‘melancholy song’ the human condition has heard multiple interpretations of throughout our existence.

The concept of love in its traditional form in our modern society, is bordering on obsolete. The romanticism of graceful and gazing meet-cutes, exchanged for a provocative picture to quench an immediate lust. The nervous energy and wit of those initial conversations as the excitement of one’s personality blossoming in front of you presents itself, undermined by a brutal barrage of social media apps stifling our voice, clouding our better judgment and reducing arguably many of us to mere superficial souls.

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The unsettling mind-set and the potentially frightening depths of our virtual engagements are epitomised in a perplexing ‘chat room’ sequence, as Theodore’s ‘BigGuy4by4′ becomes acquainted with the unfortunately titled ‘SexyKitten’. ‘Choke me with that dead cat!’ The sordid, sadist detail in which the scene is imagined. The obviousness of their ‘enticing’ titles. An initially desperate, sad insight into how the idealist or sickening nature of the material that invades our senses, could potentially form a warped perception of the love and pleasure we invite.

His plight is merely accentuated by the pain he carries around with him, after the bitter break-up with his darling Catherine played by Rooney Mara. Regular reminiscing of the tender embraces, yet a constant resistance of genuine interaction as the healing of the heart continues to be a laborious process. Questioning his own stance as the divorce papers remain untainted by his signature. ‘For her, it’s a piece of paper. For me, I like being married.’

Blinded by the glaring difficulties that saw his relationship disintegrate, despite the heartfelt omission he ‘hid’ himself from her and left her alone. Whether single or married, the false sense of security we cling onto, buying into the notion that we will instantly disregard the sadness of our situation, is all too familiar and redundant as a defence mechanism.

Initially confronted by trivial questioning (Would you consider yourself social or anti-social?), Theodore pins his great hopes on artificial intelligence. An OS1 (Operational System). The sultry tones of Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha. ‘Mind if I look through your hard drive?’ ‘How long before you’re ready to date?’ An always evolving self-attempt to re-organise and bring great confidence to a man who currently can’t prioritise between video games and internet porn. A break-up conversation with his computer may seem ‘alien’ to Theodore, but how many times have we had a version of this? Relative strangers caught off-guard by the candid outpouring of our emotions as we dissect every tiny detail. Whereas in reality we often remain numb and introverted, eager to put on a brave front in front of our nearest and dearest.

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Committing to a new relationship. Opening up. The first date jitters that plague the Olivia Wilde blind date, as she states ‘I can’t let you waste my time.’ Instantly retreating in the fear that he will walk down the same path as he did with Catherine. Coupled with the ‘closure’ sequence with his former partner, as the swift brutality of the divorce papers being signed, triggers an ominous ‘What’s the rush?’ response. The unintentional offence of Theodore stating his joy being with someone excited about life, as Catherine laments the flawed idea of being an ‘everything’s fine’ LA wife and a concept she deems bizarre (You’re dating your computer!?). Engrossed by the advancements of our gadgets and gizmos, have they altered the way we are programmed? Have we become a soulless species unable to handle real emotions? Is this a form of insanity we can deem socially acceptable in today’s society?

The exploration of this relationship between Theodore and Samantha stems from their unorthodox, stiflingly passionate foreplay. Himself worried his emotional development has peaked as herself expresses her dismay at the sad trick that she could be just programming. The raw feelings. The screen fittingly fading to black as they lose their inhibitions. An exquisite aerial pan of the LA landscape. ‘God I was just somewhere else with you. Just lost’. Both in their own respective wilderness, together you become assured as an audience this experience could prove cathartic. The beauty of the early infancies represented through a playful reverse camera shot as Theodore spins around with glee and a leisurely stroll on the beach as Samantha quirkily suggests a re-imagining of the human anatomy. But it’s the perceptive qualities of Theodore as he gently observes the various scenes that are the most telling. The admission he likes to ‘feel’ them and assess how deep one person has fallen in love. Is he assessing his own body language/mental capacity? Looking for a facial tic? A specific gesture? Where is he going wrong?

Theodore is not alone in over-thinking the thoughts that swirl in his tortured psyche, as short-term flame Amy Adams’ namesake slowly becomes more prominent. Reeling and relieved from the pettiness that coerced through the long-term relationship with the ambitious Charles (Matt Letscher), accusing him of controlling her ways of trying to make a home as they navigated through the same tired argument, her confession of confiding into her own female OS (she sees this whole grey area..) allows Theodore sufficient room to share. The beaming happiness as he confides only prompting the question. Are you falling in love? Only for Amy to elaborate ‘I think anybody who loves is a freak.’ As their scenarios progress, Amy grows certain in her belief that all ideas will hurt, will confuse. ‘We’re only here briefly and while I’m here, I want to allow myself joy’. Theodore later on staring at Amy hysterical in conversation, is this the realisation that his feelings for Samantha are plausible in their human nature?

Humanising the situation further with a surrogate sexual partner, however accentuates the oddity of their relationship. The subtle sophistication of the idea jarring with the notion it’s merely an achingly soulless experiment. The sheer difficulty to make eye contact as the hired female does her utmost to convey the emotions and play out the demands of Samantha. ‘Tell me you love me’ as the lip quivers and the reluctant embraces become more heated, Theodore grows uneasy at the distinct possibilities. ‘Be good you sweet girl’ as Samantha comforts her as she leaves.

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Can Theodore be considered naïve as he suddenly dares to imply Samantha as an ‘affectation’? Yet in the next breath, he becomes mesmerised as she composes a gorgeous piano composition. A highlight reel as they survey the world around them. A photograph, where you could easily crack the frame to express the fragility of Theodore’s state of mind.

The memories they treasure, only representing the downbeat trajectory in where the film’s narrative is heading. The bitter chill as Samantha introduces ‘Alan Watts’ to Theodore, awkwardly invading their relationship as the level of discomfort of not being the only man in her life becomes intolerable. The frenzied behaviour reinforced as one attempt to communicate with Samantha triggers a ‘Not Found’ error, drawing comparisons with ourselves perhaps when the likes of Facebook and Twitter crash.

The intimacy of their conversations juxtaposed with the unsettling realisation he’s a mere one of thousands, shuffling his focus furiously between the men passing by. Could Samantha be familiar with their feelings? Are they as developed as Theodore’s? Our own internet conversations. Are we as inquisitive about a man/woman we’re fond of and the amount of people they could be engaging with on a desirable level?

‘You’re mine and you’re not mine. I’m yours and I’m not yours.’ The ‘Are you leaving me? We all are.’ exchange. The real heartbreak that unfolds before our eyes and instilled into the gentle tones of Theodore and Samantha as she acknowledges the lack of physicality of her world, referring to their time as a beloved book she has written, slowly and regretfully finishing the ending as the spaces between the words become almost infinite. Recognising she can never truly live in his book anymore and this is where she is emotionally at now, but leaving the door open for him to find her.

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‘I’ve never loved anyone the way I loved you’. In a time where he could be the most disconnected from his world, it’s this moment where Theodore is truly humanised and at his most clear-headed. The shared connection with Amy as he rushes to her, in the belief she could be just as lonely. Composing a letter to Katherine, deeply apologetic and frank in how he regrets everything he put on her and stating there will be a piece of her in him always. Gracing the rooftop with Amy. Peering out into the vast city. The measured gaze and smile towards each other.

We are all united in wanting our own deep feelings reciprocated by a worthy other, no matter the form. For all our lengthy loneliness, we are never truly alone. The leaning onto a shoulder. The deep sigh of hopeful relief.

Stand back. Savour. *click*

A real photograph.

her009

 

 

 

Features

Venice, Cannes, London, Wherever: Film Festival Tips

A film festival veteran, Rehna Azim gives her tips on how to survive at film festivals wherever you are in the world.

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I suppose I can be called a film festival veteran now. I’ve covered enough of them over the best part of a decade to be able to pass some, hopefully, useful tips on to those who might find themselves at one of the many film festivals that seem to spring up every 15 minutes. There’s a festival for everyone and pretty much everything. A fan of Korean cinema? You’ll find a festival in London. Sci-fi freak? Horror fanboy/girl? Gay, lesbian? Woman over 40? Someone somewhere will be running a festival of films you’ll love. Even towns you weren’t sure had a cinema seem to have a festival going on.

The biggies in Europe of course are Cannes and Berlin with London coming up in recent years. San Sebastien is growing in stature and there’s Ghent, Locarno, Edinburgh and many more. Wherever it is and whatever crowd it’s for, festivals are big business and popular. So here’s how to make the most of them:

Make sure your stomach is full and your bladder empty. The bigger the festival, the longer the queues and the more uncomfortable you’ll feel as you line up with a cast of hundreds to watch the latest gem from that Bulgarian auteur you thought only you loved. A film festival will draw a cine literate crowd that will fight you to the death for the last seat in the house. (At Cannes earlier this year, journalists almost came to fisticuffs in the huge, sprawling line that waited to catch the pearls of wisdom that fell from Christopher Nolan’s lips). A couple of years ago there was an angry stamping of feet as La La Land was, inexplicably, put on a small screen that couldn’t possibly accommodate all those who wanted to see it. At Venice earlier this month the lines stretched out perilously close to the canals. So you see, if you’re serious about festivaling, like a Boy Scout, you always have to be prepared. You simply can’t take the chance of popping away for 10 minutes to grab a quick burger or spend a penny. Go before you come, as it were. Carry a snack with you in your bag (trust me, even that festering flapjack at the bottom will seem enticing when you’re starving during a 3 hour long Ingmaar Bergman retrospective. Keep a small bottle of water with you at all times, not least to avoid the headaches that dehydration can cause.

Sacrifice glamour for comfort. Unless you’re going to a red carpet premiere, wear sensible shoes you can run between venues in. Layer your clothing. It doesn’t matter which city or country you’re in, you will either be too hot or too cold in whatever you wear. Taking something off or putting it on will be the best way to deal with whatever weather comes your way. I speak as someone who has been caught in sudden, monsoon level thunderstorms in both Venice and Cannes on brilliantly hot days when I was swanning around in skimpy summer dresses.

Film Festival Movie Marker

Plan your festival days. Screening times often overlap or just outright clash. Check the programme in advance, decide what you absolutely must see and what is a ‘if I have the time’ choice. Once you’ve made your choices, schedule your days accordingly. Those covering the festival for media outlets have to factor in interviews, talks and red carpet coverage as well as time to do the write-ups. It may seem like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs (did anyone’s grandmother actually ever do that) but sometimes the simplest, most obvious tips are the most helpful. I’ve known the super organised to create elaborate flow charts for their daily schedule but a simple list in a notebook will suffice.

Always keep a note pad and camera with you. Whether both are on your latest model phone or you have the old fashioned type, you will need them. Film festivals are exciting. Celebrities are swanning around everywhere, funny, interesting, record-able things are happening all the time and you will invariably meet people you want to stay in touch with. Writing a number or email address on the back of a receipt may seem a good idea at the time but you’ll never copy it out ‘properly’ into an address book. Most likely you’ll throw the receipt away when you’re next cleaning out your bag then spend hours rummaging through it later looking for the number of that nice agent/producer/actor/attractive person you met over drinks and really want to meet again. Network, make contacts, make friends. Festivals are fun!

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Features

New entertainment platform CHILI launches in the UK

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Are you scrolling through the TV guide, trying to decide what to watch on your first night in for weeks, only to change your mind for the fourth time? Sounds tragically familiar, which is why I am very pleased to announce that European entertainment company CHILI have big plans for film and TV fans in the UK.

CHILI is a subscription-free entertainment platform that has launched in the UK after it’s recent success in Italy, racking up 1.6 million registered users since launching in 2012. Backed by the studios we all know and love, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Viacom, Sony Pictures, and 20th Century Fox, the on-demand service offers an array of content available at the click of the button.

What makes this different from say, Netflix or Amazon? The website offers a huge range of films and TV shows, from foreign art house to big screen blockbusters – as well as being a one-stop show for cinema; there is a newshub to give you the low-down on all film and TV news, you can purchase physical movies, merchandise and tickets to the cinema all in one place. Founder and chief executive Giorgio Tacchia describes CHILI as an entertainment hub; with customers discovering a new movie or TV show that they love and then browsing the merchandise to see what’s in store. From Star Wars Lego sets to beautiful concept art books, there really is something for everyone.

The platform is also filled with new premieres, including Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, Marvel Studios’ Avengers Infinity War and Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon. Customers can choose the quality they want their digital purchase, or choose to order a Blu-Ray or DVD instead.

My favourite section is the ‘highlights’ page which tailors content around your preferences and also offers flash sales and offers of the week. And with your first film on them? That’s an offer I can’t refuse.

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Our weekly updated UK streaming listings for September 2018

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Between the increasing number of streaming platforms in our lives, there’s far too much great entertainment being released day after day for any sane person to keep track of. 

There’s streaming giant Netflix, the curated offerings of MUBI, all the latest releases on NOW TV, and online video emporium Amazon Prime. There’s something for everyone, on demand, just waiting to be selected. What a time to be alive!

But that doesn’t help when you’re looking for something to wile away the evening with, so let us lighten the load and make your viewing choice that little bit easier with our weekly updated round-up of everything being added to your favourite platform.

Saturday, September 1st

  • After the Sunset
  • Appaloosa
  • Birth
  • Cellular
  • Final Destination 3
  • Harold & Kumar Escape
  • Highwaymen
  • The Last Mimzy
  • Lost in Translation
  • The Man
  • Mr. Woodstock
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Pride and Glory
  • Rendition
  • Semi-Pro
  • Shoot Em Up
  • Silk

Sunday, September 2nd

  • The Green Inferno
  • The Way Back

Monday, September 3rd

  • Molly’s Game
  • Mr. Mercedes: Season 2 (new episode)

Thursday, September 6th

  • Pistorius

Monday, September 10th

  • Mr. Mercedes: Season 2 (new episode)

Friday, September 14th

  • Forever: Season 1

Monday, September 17th

  • Mr. Mercedes: Season 2 (new episode)
  • The Post
  • Suicide Squad

Wednesday, September 19th

  • The Commuter

Saturday, September 22nd

  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Get Smart
  • The Lake House
  • Lolita
  • Mortal Kombat
  • North by Northwest
  • Payback
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • Soylent Green
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • The Towering Inferno

Sunday, September 23rd

  • Early Man

 

Wednesday, September 5th

  • Boro in the Box

Thursday, September 6th

  • Living Still Life

Friday, September 7th

  • Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Saturday, September 8th

  • The Pleasure of Being Robbed

Sunday, September 9th

  • Tiny Furniture

Monday, September 10th

  • Went the Day Well?

Tuesday, September 11th

  • Champagne Charlie

Wednesday, September 12th

  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Thursday, September 13th

  • Disorder

Friday, September 14th

  • The Wild Boys

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Eros Plus Massacre

Wednesday, September 19th

  • Street Life

Thursday, September 20th

  • Tonsler Park

Sunday, September 23rd

  • The Things of Life

 

 

Saturday, September 1st

  • The Bletchley Circle: Season 1 
  • The Bletchley Circle: Season 2
  • Born to Be Blue
  • Gangs of New York
  • Gone
  • Killing Gunther
  • La Catedral del Mar
  • Legally Blondes
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas
  • Marvel’s Iron Man
  • Marvel’s Iron Man 2
  • Marvel’s Iron Man 3
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Monkey Twins
  • Moonstruck
  • The Mummy
  • The Mummy Returns
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  • The Purge: Election Year
  • RoboCop 2
  • Saw VI
  • Sisters

Sunday, September 2nd

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, September 3rd

  • The Debt Collector
  • Power: Season 5 (new episode)
  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 4th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)

Wednesday, September 5th

  • The Hundred-Foot Journey

Thursday, September 6th

  • I Kill Giants
  • Inferno
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Atypical: Season 2
  • Cable Girls: Season 3
  • City of Joy
  • Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 2
  • The Most Assassinated Woman in the World
  • Next Gen
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Sierra Burgess is a Loser
  • Stretch Armstrong & The Flex Fighters: Season 2

Saturday, September 8th

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)

Sunday, September 9th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • Wynonna Earp: Season 2

Monday, September 10th

  • Power: Season 5 (new episode)
  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 11th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • Daniel Sloss: Live Shows
  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
  • The Resistance Banker
  • The Square

Wednesday, September 12th

  • Burn After Reading
  • Call the Midwife: Season 6
  • Jane
  • On My Skin
  • Rex

Thursday, September 13th

  • Life Happens
  • Nowhere Boys: Two Moons Rising
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Friday, September 14th

  • American Vandal: Season 2
  • The Angel
  • Bleach
  • Boca Juniors Confidential
  • BoJack Horseman: Season 5
  • Car Masters: Rust to Riches
  • The Dragon Prince
  • Ingobernable: Season 2
  • The Land of Steady Habits
  • Last Hope
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Super Monsters Monster Party: Songs

Saturday, September 15th

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)
  • Cabins in the Wild, with Dick Strawbridge: Season 1
  • The Hangover
  • How to Live Mortgage Free, with Sarah Beeny: Season 1
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • Queens vs. Kings: Season 1
  • Three Wives, One Husband: Season 1

Sunday, September 16th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, September 17th

  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities: Season 1 (new episode)

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • D.L. Hughley: Contrarian

Wednesday, September 19th

  • Julieta

Thursday, September 20th

  • American Honey
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Friday, September 21st

  • Battlefish
  • Dragon Pilot: Hisone & Masotan
  • The Good Cop: Season 1
  • Hilda
  • Maniac
  • Nappily Ever After
  • Norsemen: Season 2
  • Quincy
  • Rafinha Bastos: Ultimate

Saturday, September 22nd

  • American Horror Story: Cult (new episode)
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Sunday, September 23rd

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

 

 

Saturday, September 1st

  • Braven

Sunday, September 2nd

  • The Little Hours

Monday, September 3rd

  • Guardians of the Tomb

Tuesday, September 4th

  • Chronically Metropolitan

Wednesday, September 5th

  • The Mimic

Thursday, September 6th

  • Singularity

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Final Score

Saturday, September 8th

  • The Disaster Artist

Sunday, September 9th

  • The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Monday, September 10th

  • Psych: The Movie

Tuesday, September 11th

  • Never Steady, Never Still

Wednesday, September 12th

  • Hatred

Thursday, September 13th

  • My Friend Dahmer

Friday, September 14th

  • Murder on the Orient Express

Saturday, September 15th

  • Oddsockeaters

Sunday, September 16th

  • The Forgiven

Monday, September 17th

  • Devil’s Gate

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Affairs of State

Wednesday, September 19th

  • Wings of Eagles

Friday, September 21st

  • All the Money in the World

That’s it for this week, but don’t forget to check back each week for a fresh round of new releases for the UK on streaming platforms Amazon Prime, MUBI, NOW TV, and Netflix.

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