In class we watched Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt & Scarlett Johansson’s voice. As your first blogging assignment, you’ll be writing a short (250-500 words) reaction to it answering one (or more) of the following prompts:
Jonze had originally cast Samantha Morton as the voice of “Samantha,” only to recast her once he begin editing the film. What do you think appealed to Jonze about Johansson’s voice? What does her presence add to the film? How would you describe her performance? What about the other voice actors in the film (Jonze as the “Alien child”, Kristen Wiig as “SexyKitten”)? What makes a good voice performance and how might it be effectively used in a medium that so depends on visuals? Can you think of other examples of films that used voice-overs to this extent (narrators, interior monologues, etc.)?
2. Film’s argument
Much was written about the film’s message and argument; is this a film about technology or a film about people? Does it need to be one or the other? What is the film trying to tell us about our relationship with technology and the way it becomes an active participant in the way we build and maintain intimacies? What are your thoughts on the way the film seemingly proposes a disembodied, accommodating female who you own and control as the perfect mate?
3. Visuals & Colors
In designing how his future world would look, Jonze and his director of photography, Hoyte Van Hoytema came to the conclusion to minimize the presence of the color blue, for it seemed the go-to color for futuristic dystopias. How does Jonze’s color-scheme carry over the many themes of his film? In what way is this color-choice in keeping with the story of Theo and Samantha? How do colors and lights bring up emotions for viewers? Can you think of other films that use colors (or lack thereof) to produce similar effects?
4. Score & Soundscapes
Jonze recruited Arcade Fire to score his film (listen to it here). How would you describe the music you hear throughout the film? What does it add to the world Jonze is creating? How does this score differ from other film scores and why might that be? How does this add to the way technology (and keyboards) work in Jonze’s film?
Jonze’s film has already inspired a couple of video essays, two of which we’ll be discussing next week. Please watch them before next class with the following questions in mind:
– What is the purpose of Morton & Lee’s video essays?
– What is each video essay arguing? What is the point of these two video essays?
– Why do Morton & Lee choose to make their claims in the form of a video essay? What’s the advantage of doing so?
– What do the differences in both of these video essays tells us about the choices Morton & Lee made when creating these video essays?
– Why is Morton’s video essay titled “L.A.I.”?
– What is the point of Lee using Siri for various portions of his video essay?