360° Coverage : Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The...

2 Updates
Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The Best Picture Oscar
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The Best Picture Oscar

Mar 1 2014, 11:33am CST | by

A few weeks ago, I went to grab lunch at a takeout food spot near the office. It’s the sort of place where you move down an assembly line, telling the servers behind the counter what to add to your...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

30 weeks ago

Our Smartphones, Our Selves: Why 'Her' Deserves The Best Picture Oscar

Mar 1 2014, 11:33am CST | by

A few weeks ago, I went to grab lunch at a takeout food spot near the office. It’s the sort of place where you move down an assembly line, telling the servers behind the counter what to add to your plate at each station. Immediately ahead of me in line was a woman about my age looking intently at her phone. Over her shoulder, I saw that she was scrolling through photos on Instagram.

She reached the first station and looked up. Rice or greens? “Greens,” she said, barely looking up, and resumed scrolling as she shuffled to the next station.

Protein? “Chicken,” she said. Resume scrolling and shuffling.

Three sides? “Uhh…Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potato.” Scroll, shuffle.

Then it was time to pay. The woman handed over her credit card. As she waited for the cashier to return it, she scrolled through a few last Instagram photos.

I don’t know why this scene made such an impression on me. Like you, I probably witness something like it every day.

———

Twenty minutes into watching “Her,” Spike Jonze’s film about a man who falls in love with the Siri-like artificial intelligence program that manages his digital devices, I thought, How the hell is this going to work as a two-hour movie? Specifically, how did Jonze think he was going to keep viewers’ attention for that long with a narrative that mostly involved a man interacting with a wallet-sized piece of plastic, glass and metal?

That Jonze succeeded — that “Her” is not just watchable but visually beautiful, emotionally honest, resonant, funny and deeply moving — is exactly why I’d like to see it win Best Picture at the Academy Awards this weekend.

If the Oscars were like the Winter Olympics, and the Best Picture category was figure skating, “Her” would be heading into judging with a huge advantage, having selected for itself a program with the highest difficulty and then pulled it off flawlessly.

In fact, the Oscars are a bit like Olympic figure skating, but mostly in that an inherent conservatism in the judging tends to encourage the same sorts of acts year after year. In skating, we get “Carmen” and “Bolero”; in film, it’s period pieces and tales of triumph over disability. Politics and politicking also play a bigger role than they’re supposed to in both competitions.

The plugged-in prognosticators seem to think it’s a three-way race for this year’s Best Picture award, among “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “American Hustle.” “Gravity” was absurd but boasted some technically bravura sequences. “American Hustle” felt like too many other ’70s crime capers and didn’t leave much of an aftertaste.

As for “12 Years a Slave,” well, this is the part where I admit that I haven’t seen it yet. I know. But even without having seen it, I’m willing to grant that it has that most crucial quality in a Best Picture: It is Important. By almost every critic’s lights, it’s thoroughly deserving of the Academy’s recognition.

It’s hard to compete with slavery for Importance. But “Her,” in its own ways, is an important film, too. In the low-stakes context of early-21st century Western culture, the relationship between humans and their technology may be the most important subject going. The way that smartphones have not only entered the fabric of our lives in the last few years but come to dominate it — what could be a bigger story than that?

That “Her” succeeds as well as it does is due to a sneaky bit of misdirection. Watching Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore lose himself in his phone and his video games while the flesh-and-blood people around him fade out of focus, we know there’s a lesson in there for us somewhere.

But when it arrives — spoiler alert, for those who haven’t seen “Her” yet — it’s not the one we’re expecting. Theodore’s mistake isn’t falling in love with something that’s less than human. Just the opposite. Although she’s only an operating system, Scarlett’s Johansson’s Samantha ultimately achieves a fuller, richer humanity than Theo himself, because, unlike him, she’s willing to do the difficult, scary work of making authentic connections with people who understand her. The phone is only the form factor; Samantha is very much a person. Theo’s mistake is in using technology to avoid doing that work./>/>

“12 Years a Slave” may have something important to teach us about our past, but “Her” has something important to say about the present. Are we listening — or are we too busy distracting ourselves with our screens?

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
2

4 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the workforce of 20,000 by ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

4 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17" hit ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

OPEC daily basket price closes lower
Vienna, Oct 1 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed at $94.17 a barrel Tuesday, compared to $94.54 Monday, the OPEC Secretariat said.
 
 
New test for early cancer detection
London, Oct 1 (IANS) Early detection of cancer could now be as easy as a simple blood test.
 
 
Vitamin D has no link with type 2 diabetes: Study
London, Oct 1 (IANS) Challenging evidence from earlier studies, which suggest that higher concentrations of vitamin D might prevent type 2 diabetes, a study found that there is no evidence of a causal link between a person's vitamin D levels and type 2 diabetes.
 
 
Antioxidant in grapes may help treat acne
New York, Oct 1 (IANS) Resveratrol, an antioxidant derived from grapes and found in wine, can inhibit growth of the bacteria that causes acne, a new research shows.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Soumyajit wins, Sharath loses in Asiad TT
Incheon, Oct 1 (IANS) Soumyajit Ghosh advanced to the pre-quarterfinals of the men's singles table tennis event but compatriot Achanta Sharath Kamal lost his round of 32 match at the 17th Asian Games here Wednesday....
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Antioxidant in grapes may help treat acne
New York, Oct 1 (IANS) Resveratrol, an antioxidant derived from grapes and found in wine, can inhibit growth of the bacteria that causes acne, a new research shows. Researchers from the University of California Los...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Singapore man charged with attacking Indian-origin bouncer
Singapore, Oct 1 (IANS) A man was charged Wednesday with attacking a part-time Indian origin bouncer in a night club in Singapore. Mohamed Asrafd Peer Mohamed, 22, was accused of grievously hurting Prakash Jagajeevan...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Viagra may have long-term effect on vision
Sydney, Oct 1 (IANS) An active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra could cause unusual visual responses in people who carry a common mutation that leads to an eye disease and may have long-term...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Smoking during pregnancy may damage fertility of sons
Melbourne, Oct 1 (IANS) Smoking during pregnancy can harm the developing foetus and mothers who smoke while they are pregnant or breast feeding may damage the future fertility of their sons. "This is the first time we...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Indian woman charged with fraud in Singapore
Singapore, Oct 1 (IANS) An Indian origin woman in Singapore Wednesday was charged with misappropriating a whopping $1.7 million from her former employer. Satwant Kaur during her tenure as secretary at Redstar Marine...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indian women's hockey team win bronze
Incheon, Oct 1 (IANS) The Indian women's hockey team defeated Japan 2-1 in the 3rd-4th position play-off to clinch the Asian Games bronze medal at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium here Wednesday. Vandana Kataria and...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Fat tongue linked to sleep apnea risk
New York, Oct 1 (IANS) Obese adults with a significantly larger tongue and higher percentage of fat are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than others, says a study. Common warning signs for sleep apnea...
Read more on Business Balla
 
New app to promote consensual sex
New York, Oct 1 (IANS) In a bid to solve cases of date rape and sexual assault on campus, here comes an app that makes consensual sex as easy as a flick of your finger. "Good2Go" is a free "consent" mobile phone app...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Chimpanzees culturally connected to humans: Study
London, Oct 1 (IANS) Studying how new natural behaviour was passed among individuals in a wild chimpanzee community, researchers have shown that there could be an evolutionary connection between human and chimpanzee "...
Read more on Politics Balla