Friday, January 31, 2014

The Joys of Speculative Fiction

Sam and I went along to see Spike Jonze’s “Her” her the other night.

I fell asleep in places, I confess.

However, I need to preface this with a few facts about the day I’d had. After a long day at work I finally made my way to my car that was parked in at work’s outside car park. It was a blistering 42 degrees when I ventured out from my air conditioned haven to the dustbowl of the car park. I jumped in the car, drove off and found that my car air conditioning was once again not working. I only had it fixed three weeks ago.

So I drove home old school style, all the windows down, whilst sweating buckets. The last time I did something like this I think we had vinyl seats in the car – back in the early eighties.

When I got home, I changed, ran out the door and went to a Spin class, joining Ellie the Mad in the Spin studio. You’d think you have to be mad to do Spin on a day of 42 degrees, but the arctic-like air conditioning in the spin studio is a bonus. Leaving the gym an hour later, the change was beginning to move in, had some dinner and then went out to meet Sam.

All a decent recipe for exhaustion.

We settled into the late movie, choc tops a blazing and sat down to a tale of modern relationships. A modern love affair between a man and his computer operating system.

A love affair between a lonely bloke and his computer – right. I’ve shared flats with nerds, know all about that. This was a bit different. In this futuristic Utopia, people appeared happy, their computers are with them at all times, able see, talk and converse through an ear piece and a small hand held screen.

We're probably not too far away from this scenario.

Anyway, the protagonist, a rather glum Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenix installs a new operation system with the voice of Scarlett Johannson. She's smart, able and in his ear all the time. The two fall in love.

We also see some of Theodore's back story of a marriage gone sour, meet his friends who are just as isolated as himself and watch as he falls in love with an omnipotent machine that knows everything and everybody.

It's really cleverly done. You forget after a while that the voice is a computer. They thing of everything, from how the operating system gets to see the world to the normalising of the relationship. It's a great premise.

Some of the new technology really excited me. As a piece of speculative fiction, this was truly great. It's worth watching out for a Spike Jonze cameo as the alien in the game that Theodore plays regularly.

I also thought that it was a wonderful look at loneliness and aloneness in the modern world, this being the film's greatest gift. It also poses a lot of questions around the role of computers in society, how we go about doing things in this modern world and for all the connectivity we have, how isolated we are.

Definitely worth a look, just ignore me falling asleep. Sam and I left the cinema in a pensive mood. We both liked it, but a few days on, I'm still thinking about some of the themes and wondering if I should go back and see it again to revisit the spots where I was fast asleep.

1 comment:

Jackie K said...

I really liked it, and thought it was very clever. As you say, it was smart in showing the very near future and it all seemed very believable. I was very curious about the settings and looked it up on IMDB - city scenes are mostly Shanghai. But yes, it did leave me a little pensive as well - much to think over.
That's what science fiction is though - when done well - great premises that say things about the present, even if the story is set in the future.
I've been waiting for your review on this one :)