Monday, June 16, 2014

OS Love

Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde
Released: December 18, 2013

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to 12 Years a Slave)
Best Original Screenplay - Spike Jonze (won)
Best Original Score - Will Butler and Owen Pallett (lost to Steven Price for Gravity)
Best Original Song - "The Moon Song" by Spike Jonze and Karen O (lost to "Let It Go" by Kristin Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez for Frozen)
Best Production Design (lost to The Great Gatsby)

This is a movie I would not recommend watching with your parents or other family members or with somebody you've just started seeing. In fact, just watch it by yourself. Let's just say there are a couple awkward scenes that I was very glad I was watching it by myself! 

This movie takes place in the future (when exactly, we're not told) and I knew what it was about going in so it wasn't a huge shock that Joaquin Phoenix's character, Theodore, has a relationship with his OS system. Before seeing the movie, I assumed he was an anti-social, socially awkward person who had never had a (real human) girlfriend, but he used to be married (to Rooney Mara's character) and has friends (played by Amy Adams and Chris Pratt) so he's not a total, in lack of a better term, weird-o creep.

In this future world, everyone is always walking around with a headset on and everything is automated. Theodore works for a card company where he dictates letters for people who want to send a heartfelt message to loved ones, so they hire a company like the one Theodore works for to do it for him, which is a little messed up that that they have to hire a total stranger to write their personal messages! Theodore does this by verbally saying what he wants written down and the computer writes it down for him.

When he sees an ad for a new operating system with advanced artificial intelligence, he gets one and while setting it up, he's asked a couple questions which includes things like, "What is your relationship like with your mother?" He chooses to have a female voice and soon Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is born. Samantha is the anti-Suri. I don't have Suri, but I have seen plenty of people interact with "her", and if you ask her a totally off the wall question she will say (in a very robotic voice), "I do not know" or something to that affect and even if you do ask her a simple question, she will misunderstand it and say "I do not know" or give an answer that has nothing to do with what you asked. If I had Suri, I would just get aggravated with it. I can verbally tell my iPod touch to play a certain artist and four times out of five, it always gets it wrong! Samantha, being voiced by an actual person, has a "real" voice and communicates like a real person and she's very charming and makes jokes and can answer questions within seconds and reminds Theodore when he has meetings and reads him his e-mails. She is very organized and friendly and you can see why Theodore is so taken with her even though she is just a computer. She and Theodore have deep, philosophical conversations and she confesses to him she wishes she were human to see what it would be like.

There was one thing that confused me. This new OS is supposed to be super advanced and something that nobody has seen, but there's a scene where Theodore is playing a video game and at one point he gets to this weird little alien who talks to him and calls him names and while this is going on, he's also having a conversation with Samantha who's telling him he got an e-mail from a friend who sent pictures of her friend who she wants to set him up with. He is able to post the pictures on the screen, along with the game, and the character in the game is able to see the pictures and comment on the girl and says how fat she is (obviously she is not since she is played by Olivia Wilde). If the OS Samantha is supposedly to be part of this new marvel of technology because the OS can interact with you in personal ways, is it really that amazing if your video game characters (even if they are jerks) can also interact with you outside of the game? And to me, that is just creepy.

Samantha insists Theodore go on a date with the woman because she's noticed that Theodore hasn't had much interaction with women. Now I don't like it when real life people meddle in my personal life, you can bet that I would really not like it if some Suri-like computer was meddling in it! So they go out and here is this beautiful woman who is interested in him, but like I say, if it's too good to be true, then it is and she just goes crazy on him and the date does not end well.

He and Samantha start connecting on a more deeper level and one night one thing leads to another and then one of the most awkward sex scenes I've ever seen onscreen happens which is pretty amazing how awkward it is considering there is no nudity and there's only one human (perhaps that's the reason it's so uncomfortable?) It is a lot like watching people have phone sex with a lot of heavy breathing. I don't know how Samantha could know what it's like to have sex since she doesn't have a physical body, but whatever.

Theodore, the human, and Samantha, the OS, become an official couple and you're waiting for his friends to find out and look at him funny or ask what he's been smoking, but they seem to take it very well and are happy for him. In fact, in this future world, it is not so weird for a true odd couple like that to happen as Theodore is not the only human dating his OS. If you think about it, people are already more interested in their iPhones and other technological devices than paying attention to the real human beings around them, so maybe it's not so far fetched that people will be in relationships with their iPhones in the future....which would be so weird and I hope that never happens! But perhaps it's not so off the mark. Theodore's friends are so welcoming of Samantha that they all go on a mini vacation together, the four of them. There's a scene where the three humans are outside enjoying a picnic and Theodore's phone is also lying on the blanket and they're all having a conversation and Samantha seems perfectly content joking around with them even though she's not physically there. In fact, she even makes a statement saying she's glad she's not a human because she can be anywhere and everywhere at once and doesn't have to worry about mortality.

As with any relationship, theirs has a few problems. (Hmm, you think?) Samantha is worried that Theodore is becoming distant and has asked a woman to be a surrogate and have sex with him so they can have a somewhat real physical relationship. The woman doesn't talk, but instead attaches a little fleck that looks like a mole to her upper lip and it allows Samantha to be connected to her...or something...I didn't quite get that and Samantha does the talking for her. I thought it would have been clever if they had Scarlett Johansson playing the woman but understood immediately why they didn't when Theodore can't go through with it and the woman, now out of character, is totally horrified and embarrassed and starts speaking.

Theodore gets jealous when Samantha says she's been talking to other operating systems (one of them with a very suave voice!) and is incredulous (as was I!) when she admits that she's in love with 641 other people because she is also the OS for 8,000 other humans. I think this shocked me because I just assumed that an individual OS was created for each human, but I guess there is only one Suri for the millions of people who have her services, so I shouldn't have been so surprised by that.

Inevitably, their relationship doesn't last, but it's not who you would think it is that ends it. A very interesting and thought-provoking movie, but like I said, make sure you watch it alone. 

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