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

 
 
 

33 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

7 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 sla ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

7 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 MH37 ...
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

Repeated viewing of violence and sex 'desensitises' parents
Washington, Oct 20 (IANS) In a stunning report, researchers have revealed that when it comes to sex and violence, the more parents watch TV shows or movies with explicit scenes, the less they care about what their kids can watch.
 
 
Nigeria declared free of Ebola
London, Oct 20 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) Monday officially declared Nigeria free of the Ebola virus disease after six weeks with no new cases.
 
 
New Zealand fault hole revealing secrets of earth's crust
Wellington, Oct 20 (IANS) An international team of scientists drilling a 1.3-km deep hole into the Alpine Fault in New Zealand's South Island say they are already gaining valuable insights into the earth's crust less than a quarter of the way down.
 
 
Young kids often given wrong medication
New York, Oct 20 (IANS) One child is affected every eight minutes when usually a well-meaning parent or caregiver commits an unintentional medication error, said a US-based study.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

1,074 new dengue cases in Chinese province
Beijing, Oct 18 (IANS) China's Guangdong province has reported 1,047 new cases of dengue fever, health authorities said Saturday. Six people have already died in Guangdong -- five in Guangzhou and one in adjacent...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Blake Lively 'always' wanted to be mum
Blake Lively has ''always'' wanted to be a mother. The 27-year-old actress is expecting her first child with husband Ryan Reynolds and she admits she's been dreaming of this moment since she was a youngster. Speaking...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kris Jenner 'torn apart' by Bruce's new relationship
Kris Jenner feels ''torn apart and angry'' that Bruce Jenner is dating her former assistant. The 58-year-old matriarch split from the 64-year-old Olympic gold medalist last October following 22-years of marriage but is...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini won't move to France
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini doesn't want to move to her husband's home country of France. The 'X Factor' judge, 31, who comes from Newcastle, is adamant she won't be relocating any time soon to suit her new spouse Jean-...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lance Bass sets wedding date
Lance Bass has set a date for his wedding. The former *NSYNC singer and his partner Michael Turchin, who have been dating for two-and-a-half years, are to tie the knot on December 20, 2014, a representative for the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nepal avalanche toll reaches 39
Kathmandu, Oct 18 (IANS) At least 39 climbers died while hiking on a key Nepali route after it was hit by a major snowstorm and avalanches earlier this week, BBC reported Saturday citing officials. Over 350 stranded...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Jake Gyllenhaal says society is complicit in 'nightcrawling'
Jake Gyllenhaal says almost everybody in society ought to relate to his new movie 'Nightcrawlers'. The eagerly-awaited film concerns those people who monitor police scanners and then race to crime scenes to film eye-...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
India eves look for first win in AFC U-16 qualifiers
Dhaka, Oct 18 (IANS) India will hope to register their first win of the 2015 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Women's Championship qualifiers when they take on hosts Bangladesh in a crucial encounter at the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Moyes mulling return to management
London, Oct 18 (IANS) Former Manchester United manager David Moyes said that he is ready to revive his managerial career six months after being sacked by the 'Red Devils'. "I am ready to return. I have enjoyed the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ebola fears loom over Ghana hosting AFCON
Accra (Ghana), Oct 18 (IANS) The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) cautioned the government Saturday against hosting the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), despite a request by the Confederation of African Football (...
Read more on Sport Balla