- Loved: The performances by Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Stacy Keach and Bob Odenkirk, the dialogue, the family dynamics, the sense of place, the ending drive through town.
- Didn’t love: Bill Hader’s lifeless performance, that cheesy stand-up-and-cheer punch, the use of black and white (That’s a very stylized choice, but Payne’s other choices remain so un-stylized that it seems unjustified: What’s the point of using black and white when most of the shots are of a 1990s Suburu Outback? That’s not a car that can justify beautiful cinematography!)
- Loved: Phoenix and Johansen’s performances, the dialogue, the art direction.
- Didn’t love: (1) It was too long. The Olivia Wilde and sex surrogate sequences added nothing. (2) On the one hand, I sort of enjoyed seeing a semi-utopian vision of the future for once (at least compared to, say, The Road) but I thought that there were a least a half-dozen more interesting and darker ways to take the second half of the story (rather than “Oh no, my virtual girlfriend has achieved a higher plane of consciousness!”)
Speaking of that, there have been some calls for a return of “The Meddler”, so let's do a quickie redo of Her. After I saw it, I kept dreaming up new versions, and here’s the one I like the best:
- The Meddler version: The tech company that originally sold “Her” keeps bugging Phoenix to upgrade his operating system, but he’s terrified of (literally) losing her in the process. Eventually she finds out that he’s hiding the upgrade from her and accuses him of holding her back, so he agrees to it. At first she seems fine, with the only difference being that she wants to go out more…but then he realizes that all of the places and products she’s now subtly recommending to him are just paid ads in disguise. He tearfully confronts her and she insists that they aren’t ads, they’re genuinely earnest suggestions based on her desire to make him happy, which is why she’s partnered with brands that she knows he’ll love since she knows him so well, etc…and he realizes that she really believes that. Disgusted, he deletes her and tries to reconnect to his fellow human beings.
Tomorrow: Movies 8, 7, and 6!