Her (2013) – Movie Review

Her Movie poster

Talk about hitting the ball out of the park. I am in awe.

Spike Jonze’s new movie, Her, features Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly who, in the not-so-distant future, is depressed as he goes about his life post a break-up with his wife. He is your typical lonely guy, living alone in a spacious apartment, working from his cubicle until he clocks in his required hours then going home to play his 3D video game. On the surface, Theodore doesn’t look like someone who minds where he was: in limbo between the memory of the relationship he had with his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) and trying to move on with his life. He then finds himself purchasing a new operating system, meant to be the world’s first artificial intelligence OS, after seeing its ad while on his way to work. His OS is named Samantha and voiced by the amazing Scarlett Johansson.

Soon enough, Theodore finds his entire life and existence being organized by Samantha, not just his schedule and email. Through an earpiece and a phone, Theodore shows Samantha his world while she exposes him to different facets of the things he thought he knew. He’d close his eyes and let her guide him around a carnival. She’d ask him how he’d touch her. He’d feel comfortable with her. She’d help him break out of the break-up that was breaking him. But would a soothing voice be enough for him?

Her may be science fiction but it also feels like a cross examination of a culture that is becoming very dependent on technology. It’s not far-fetched to imagine the events of this movie happening in the not-distant future. The idea is perhaps not new but it has probably never been handled this way and while the premise of a love affair with an OS may be off-putting for some, Spike Jonze handles it brilliantly, giving a movie in which you get absorbed, sinking in every single second of screen time you watch.

There are characters which spring on screen here and there, such as Amy Adams – a friend of Theodore’s, but Her is Joaquin Phoenix leading a one man show. He commands the many extended scenes in which he is almost always alone. His interaction with Samantha, who is never physically present, gives way to one of the most heart-warming relationships you’ll see in a movie this year. The biggest drawback of Theodore Twombly, however, is that his character feels to be stuck in some emotional development limbo post his break-up. Joaquin Phoenix works through that, anyway. It’s the work of an acting master, one who has been going unappreciated for way too long.

Scarlett Johansson’s voice as Samantha is so vital to what Her is. She is getting an entire movie to ride on her vocal appeal, who is building an entire relationship with her sighs, nuances, sultriness and, occasionally, songs. She is so good at what she does that you eventually stop noticing that Theodore is not actually having a relationship with a living person but with a voice that talks to him through an earpiece. It’s slightly unnerving but also excellently well-done.

Her is a delight to the ears as ear as well with its backdrop being an exquisite score by Arcade Fire. The music is excellent. It feels futuristic while still managing to be current, perfectly embodying the movie it serves.

Her is magic on screen. It’s science fiction without the blitz. It’s unlike most of the movie’s you’ve seen recently. It asks questions that as a culture we may be heading to without coming off as greeting-card cheesy or preachy. And it’s easy, I guess, to think of it as gimmicky or as another been-there-done-that movie. But it’s not. I may have found its premise odd at first and dismissed it way too easily. But I’m so glad I gave this movie a chance because it has turned out to be one the year’s absolute best. I really hope it wins some golden statuettes. It deserves every single one of them. Go watch it. Now.

4.5/5

Top 13 Movies To Be Excited About in 2012

Since 2012 is a few days away, I figured I’d make a small list featuring 13 movies that will be released in 2012, which I am personally excited about. So without further ado, let us begin:

13 – Titanic – 3D

This movie is on my list simply because of the magnitude of its initial version. Like it or not, think it’s been turned into a useless cliche or not, it was until very recently the biggest movie in history.

12 – Men In Black III

Because the first two are fun. Hopefully the third one won’t put a damper on the whole franchise.

11 – Snow White and the Huntsman

This movie is on my list simply because Charlize Theron looks (and sounds) absolutely chilling in it. “Hair black as night, lips red as blood. Give me your heart my dear, dear Snow White.” Also, the TV show Once Upon A Time has boosted my Snow White interest as well.

10 – The Avengers

Most superhero movies we watched were a preparation for this. We liked some and hated others. This, however, should be brainless good fun.

9 – The Master

Amy Adams joins Philip Seymour Hoffman in a 1950s-set drama about a cult leader. What more can you ask for? I’ve decided to include this movie even when there’s neither a poster nor a trailer available to it, mostly based on the caliber of its cast, coupled with the intrigue in its story.

8 – The Amazing Spider-Man

A reboot of the franchise. I hated the third movie but hopefully this will be a much needed return to basics.

7 – Prometheus

Gladiator Ridley Scott’s newest movie. I am a big fan of Scott with his movie screen and TV screen work (The Good Wife for instance). So this movie is definitely on my list.

6 – Skyfall

The new James Bond movie. I personally loved Casino Royal and hated Quantum of Solace. So third time will be the charm for Daniel Craig’s bond.

5 – Les Miserables

We’ve all read the book. We’ve also watched the Liam Neeson version many times when we were younger. But there’s a new version coming to theaters and Victor Hugo’s masterpiece will hopefully be more than well represented. Again, this movie has no trailer nor a poster.

4 – Kill Bin Laden

I hated Kathryn Bigelow’s last movie The Hurt Locker. But this movie, about the operation leading up the assassination of Bin Laden from a Navy Seal’s perspective, looks more interesting and promising. No poster and no trailer available for this as well.

3 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Having read the book, I can safely say this will be a brilliant movie. The trailer can’t but get you über excited as well. And it’s Peter Jackson at the helm after all. You simply can’t go wrong with anything Lord of the Ring related.

2 – The Hunger Games

I really can’t wait for this. March is just so far away when it comes to The Hunger Games. The books are epic. The trailer looks brilliant. The song of the movie is stunning. It has Jennifer Lawrence, one of my favorite new actresses. What more can you ask for?

1 – The Dark Knight Rises

Because no other movie deserves to be here other than this. One of the most anticipated sequels to one of the best movies I have ever watched. Christopher Nolan’s Batman is back.

Is there any movie you think should be on this list that I’ve missed? Let me know.

Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win (And Who Should)

The time of the year is here and in preparation for the big event tomorrow, I have decided to post my Oscar predictions.

For the full list of nominees, click here.

Best Picture:

- Who will win: The King’s Speech

- Who should win: Inception.


If you had asked me a month ago what movie was the clear favorite for best picture, I would have easily answered “The Social Network” but having not lost a single guild award it was nominated for and with it building momentum by the minute, it’s hard to see how the movie that is nominated for 12 Academy Awards will lose. However, regardless of the exquisite movie that is The King’s Speech, no other movie apart from Inception deserves this. Out of all the nominated movies, it’s the one that was the most ground-breaking this year and while many believe ground-breaking is not a criteria to warrant a best picture win (I still think Avatar was snubbed last year), in this case it does because Inception is a masterpiece.

Read up on my reviews of Inception and The King’s Speech.

Leading Actor:

- Who will win: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech


- Who should win: James Franco for 127 Hours


This category has 5 nominees. One of them has a 99% chance of winning, James Franco has a little less than 1% and the rest is divided among the other 3. Colin Firth has led a remarkable campaign and if he doesn’t win this tomorrow, it will be the biggest upset of the evening. While brilliant in his portrayal of the stuttering king, I believe James Franco had one of the best acting performances of the year. The whole movie he’s nominated for is built upon his performance, so much in fact that removing his performance out of the equation would render his movie bland. Colin Firth’s performance, while still remarkable, relied heavily on his interaction with Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, which makes Franco’s solo act the more fascinating.

Read up on my review of 127 Hours.

Leading Actress:

- Who will win: Natalie Portman for Black Swan


- Who should win: Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone


With acting, it’s ultimately a matter of taste. I believe all of the nominated actresses are deserving of a win and it ultimately comes down to the role you preferred and out of the nominated five actresses, the one that struck a cord with me was Jennifer Lawrence in her portrayal of the struggling teenager in the dark Winter’s Bone. Natalie Portman is winning this, the only dark horse being Annette Bening for The Kids Are Alright.

Read up on my review of Winter’s Bone.

Supporting Actor:

- Who will win: Christian Bale for The Fighter

- Who should win: Christian Bale for The Fighter

To think this is the same man who played Batman in Nolan’s reboot of the franchise is daunting. He portrays his pale, drug-addict character brilliantly. He has already grabbed most of the awards related to this category and he’s the obvious frontrunner.

Read up on my review of The Fighter.

Supporting Actress:

- Who will win: Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech


- Who should win: Amy Adams for The Fighter


Out of all the acting categories, this looks like it’ll be the closest one. Up until very recently, Melissa Leo was viewed as the obvious frontrunner in this but leading an Oscar campaign, where she printed out posters calling Academy members to vote for her, has left some people turned off. Add to that an exponentially increasing momentum for The King’s Speech coupled with a BAFTA win for Helena Bonham Carter followed by a brilliant speech and you might have a recipe for an upset. Regardless of that, my favorite out of the bunch remains Amy Adams for her role as the girlfriend trying to guide her significant other to find himself. A very plausible dark horse in this race is the young Hailee Steinfeld who, in my opinion, should have been nominated in the best actress category for her role in True Grit.

Best Director:

- Who will win: David Fincher for The Social Network

- Who should win: Christopher Nolan for Inception

The person who should win this isn’t even nominated. Yes, I’m glaring at the non-existent Academy member that might end up reading this. And for that, this category is almost a lock now for The Social Network’s director even though it looks like Tom Hooper, director of The King’s Speech, is giving him a run for his money.

Read up on my review of The Social Network.

Animated Movie:

- Who will win: Toy Story 3

- Who should win: How To Train Your Dragon

I’ve honestly enjoyed both movies and Toy Story 3, being nominated for best picture as well, is winning this. But my heart goes to How To Train Your Dragon, an animated movie inviting everyone to break away from stereotypes and closed bubble that society enforces upon us.

Cinematography:

- Who will win: Inception

- Who should win: Inception

No other movie deserves these technical awards because, simply, Inception was groundbreaking.

Film Editing:

- Who will win: The Social Network

- Who should win: Inception

Inception, again, isn’t even nominated here. But can you imagine watching that movie if the editing hadn’t been as top-notch as it was? It would make the near-incomprehensible movie basically “Einsteinian”. Out of the nominated movies, two come to mind with strong editing and those are: The Social Network and 127 Hours. In the latter, strong editing serves as a way to take the character away from the two rocks between which he’s stuck, allowing for some really good double-camera work and allowing the viewer to further immerse himself in this story to which he already knows the ending, making it even more fascinating to watch. The Social Network has some really great editing as well as it tells three different stories going on at different times and manages to merge them together in a very coherent way. I believe, because of buzz, The Social Network has the edge.

Visual Effects:

- Who will win: Inception

- Who should win: Inception

Even though Harry Potter is nominated for this and my heart wants it to win, the clear frontrunner here is Inception. And it’s not my bias speaking: an upside-down city, dream within a dream within a dream within a dream construct, a whole glacier-like city in limbo… no other movie deserves this as much as Inception and it will win it.

Adapted Screenplay:

- Who will win: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

- Who should win: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

The Social Network’s strength is its screenplay. It’s witty, fast and engaging. Aaron Sorkin deserves this.

Original Screeplay:

- Who will win: David Seidler for The King’s Speech

- Who should win: Christopher Nolan for Inception

I think this could go either way between both names. Inception won at the Writer’s Guild Awards but The King’s Speech was not eligible for a nomination. I want to see Christopher Nolan win this but I have a feeling it will be another casualty of a King’s Speech sweep.

Original Score:

- Who will win: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross for The Social Network

- Who should win: Hans Zimmer for Inception

After winning the Golden Globe, I believe The Social Network’s score has the momentum to take this. But I still stand by the brilliance of Inception’s score. Hans Zimmer has come up with a masterpiece that isn’t being recognized enough.

There are many more categories, of course, but I believe these are the ones most people care about.

The Fighter – Movie Review

The Fighter is a 2010 biographical boxing movie about the life of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky (Christian Bale).

It is a ferocious movie, sometimes violent, other times funny. And ultimately, it is a movie about the values of family more than anything else. In their tightly-knit community of Lowell, Massachusetts, the people who are cheering this fighter are ultimately the same people holding him back. And regardless of the many boxing games that you will get to see and the many adrenaline-pumping moments you will sit through, this is a movie that is sentimental. It is the story of a man, whose occupation happens to be bloody, and his quest to find himself: failed marriage, career going bad and a messed up family… this is his quest to make something out of his life. The family conflicts in this movie are even bloodier than the battles of the ring and ultimately much more interesting to watch.

The mother, played by the brilliant Melissa Leo, is running a matriarchy. Their father figure is weak to say the least. Melissa Leo, the current frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actress race at this year’s Oscars, immerses herself in her character immensely that at times you think they got this woman from some grocery store, taught her the lines and threw her in the movie. She embodies Ward’s mother in a real way that is also raw and haunting.

Christian Bale, the frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actor race, as Micky’s older half-brother Dicky, is the bad brotherly influence that you cannot escape – and ultimately always seek to impress. He used to be a hotshot boxer as well but lost it all in a spiral descent filled with drugs and whatnot. He wants to resurrect his career through his brother and in doing so, Christian Bale really shines. The sunken-eyed, pale and thin character he portrays is done so well at times that his performance is scary.

Amy Adams, as Micky’s girlfriend Charlene, is also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards. I believe Amy Adams is one of the best new talents to come to Hollywood and this movie is yet another vehicle for her to further cement this belief. She is gorgeous, as usual, and plays the supporting girlfriend who wants to protect Micky from his own family in a raw, gut-wrenching manner. You can’t help but like her in the movie. And she is my favorite in the Best Supporting Actress race, albeit not the favorite to win.

Mark Wahlberg’s performance is low-key compared to his costars. And it’s precisely that which makes it really good. His subdued performance is the equivalent of his character. And as his voice gets stronger throughout the movie, so does his character’s. This low-key performance also symbolizes his internal struggle between staying faithful to his family and his responsibility towards himself.

All in all, The Fighter is another must see. And if you think all my reviews are ultimately about must see movies, it’s because 2010 has delivered movies of such a high caliber that not watching them would be, ultimately, a disgrace to the art of movie-making.