A haze of smoke uncoils and dances in the air, slinking out from of the mouth of Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), part-time private investigator and, ostensibly, full-time pothead. So light and loony this character (and film) is, Inherent Vice almost comes as a surprise to those following the career of Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last few films have fit, for the most part, comfortably within a mode of seriousness. Vice, while hard to describe as frivolous, is not as married to that tone, instead taking on something goofier, funnier, and consistent with Anderson’s work; something enjoyably off-kilter.
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(Author’s Note: What follows is the first, or second if you count the essay on my father, entry in an infrequent series of personal essays I’ll be writing under the category of Art Imitates Life, which, I hope, is fairly self-explanatory.)
Sitting here, it’s almost a little strange thinking about just how resonant Her was for me. I do not doubt that there were others who were connected with the film, and I suppose that’s one of the many successes of Spike Jonze’s love story. From its ability to examine on how we live now to its focus on how we love now, Her does so many things right. And one of them was help me fall in and out of love with the same person.
The other night, my best friend Joe and I were watching Frances Ha. There’s a line where the titular character, played by Greta Gerwig, looks at her best friend (Mickey Sumner) and says something along the lines of “I love you, even though you love your phone that has email more than me.” Joe poked me in the foot and looked at me, and we shared one of those knowing moments between friends where we both knew what the other was thinking. It is true; I am a product of my generation, in the midst of a love affair with my phone and, in general, the internet. But to say that my addiction to social media is frivolous is missing the point and missing the complexities that go along with it. Which brings us to Spike Jonze’s newest film Her, a film as much about relationships as it is about introspection and technology, and how the two intertwine with one another in a passionate, sensual dance.