It, The Movie

The source of humanity’s irrational fear of clowns is being remade. On September 8th, Stephen King’s classic coming-of-age/psycho-murderer-clown tale will hit the silver screen. And I, despite hating remakes and unnecessary sequels, couldn’t be more excited. The original, mini-series version was enough to haunt my childhood (and adulthood) and with modern film making capabilities, and the talented screenwriting of Cary Fukanaga (True Detective) (season 1) (not the convoluted, disastrous season 2) it’s going to be a nightmare. In the best kind of way.

It takes a special kind of film to be legitimately scary. A decent horror movie will have you shaken in the theater, like The Conjuring” A good horror movie will linger under your bed and in the darkest shadows of your room, like The Witch. A great horror movie will bury itself under your skin. It will eat away at you, and make you fear not just the film, but fear itself. Then there’s the films that go beyond that.

But what is it about “It” that transcends the genre and positions itself with the likes of films like Rosemary’s Baby, and The Step Father? To be sure, It’s not the jump scares and the obscene violence. It’s the razor-sharp allegory that the story tells in the most horrifying and spectacular way. While those other films were so deeply unsettling, that they had me fearing members of my own family and looking over my shoulder in broad daylight, It does something that even they couldn’t do.

Sure, It will get under your skin and have you whimpering at the sight of a red balloon, or a sewer grate, but what separates It from the bunch is that the story is an overtly positive allegory wrapped in a terrific, blood-soaked package.

I submit that underneath the violence, the macabre, and the sheer horror of the narrative, It is a masterful anti-bullying allegory. But, before you accept or reject my theory out of hand, let’s take a closer look.

First, let’s look at the bullies themselves. Bullying, in real life, is typically used as a means of establishing power. By beating others into the literal, or figurative, ground, the bully’s social status climbs. It makes them scarier in many ways to the victims and even the observers. And fear is an effective, maybe the most effective, form of power. Bullies prey on fear. The scarier a bully seems to a victim, the more power they have over them.

Now, let’s look at Pennywise, the killer-clown from the story. Pennywise is simply the manifestation of the fear that bullying creates. He preys on children, and not just any children, the one’s in the self-proclaimed “losers club”. These kids are already fearful, and lack self-esteem and, just like a real-live bully, he feasts on this fear for his own power. He finds out what each child is most afraid of and can literally become the living version of that fear. And as the children’s fear grows, Pennywise grows stronger.

But that’s not all. Much like real-life bullying, the murders and attacks in the story happen, practically, in plain view of adults and bystanders, who are either oblivious, or refuse to help. In the story, dozens of children go missing over the years, and no one seems to be doing anything. In real-life bullying, countless children are victimized, and yet no one seems to be doing anything. One big reason is that bullying has a slippery definition. It takes many shapes and sizes. Kind of like, oh I don’t know, a shape-shifting killer clown?

But if you’re still not convinced of my interpretation, let’s look at the victims some more.

In real life, the easiest targets for bullies are perceived as weak, or have some characteristic that makes them different and isolates them from the group. A bully will find what the person dislikes most about themselves and use it against them. The more obvious the insecurity, the easier the prey. In the story, It is able to identify the greatest fears of each of his victims and become the physical form that fear takes.

Now, let’s look at the children in the story. The Losers Club.  In the club, there’s a stutterer, an asthmatic, a fat kid, a poor girl, and the minorities: the black kid and the Jewish kid. Each of these kids is isolated in the community and each is a victim of the literal town-bully, Henry Bowers, who, predictably, has an abusive alcoholic father. They are all traumatically bullied by Henry and his gang of followers, and it’s here that the fear It preys on finds its way in.

The victims, of course, represent the people in real-life who share their feelings of isolation. In real-life, these people are picked on by individual bullies, entire groups, and even systematically cast out of society. In the film, the characters are picked on by a metaphorical killer-clown.

So, we found parallels between It and the characteristics and methodology of real-life bullies. The instinct to prey on the weak or downtrodden. The use of fear as a source of power. The fluid and indefinable form that the bullying takes.

Then, we found parallels between the characteristics of the victims of It in the story, and the victims of bullies in real life. But again, if that’s still not enough to validate the metaphor, let’s look at some similarities between the long-term effects of bullying and the long-term effects of being tormented by a shapeshifting demon-clown.

Victims of severe childhood bullying, suffer the repercussions well into adulthood. With their self-esteem tragically stunted, some find themselves in abusive relationships, some turn to substance abuse, and some even turn to suicide as a means of coping. It’s also common for them to project their own history of abuse and bullying onto their kids, or people that they perceive as weaker. (See Henry Bowers, the town bully with the abusive father)

These aspects of bullying are covered in the story by the timeline shift to the children’s adulthood. In the story, some have turned to suicide, like Stan who despite being the most skeptical, kills himself out of fear of returning to his home town. Others find themselves in their own abusive relationships, like Bev, who is married to the physically and sexually abusive, Tom Rogen. But It also touches on a totally different, and more difficult to define, repercussion of childhood bullying.

Most of the grown children pretend that It never happened, or that it wasn’t as bad as they remember. This seems crazy at first glance, because I think most people would vividly remember, and appropriately weigh the seriousness of their brother getting his arm ripped off by a sewer-dwelling clown. But, taken as an allegory for bullying, it doesn’t seem so ridiculous. Victims of extreme physical abuse and rape will sometimes repress their memories and look back on them thinking they had overreacted or misinterpreted the situation.

This conversation is one-way, so I get to assume you see the metaphor now, even if you don’t.

But, I said this was a positive movie. So, what solution does the story offer us? What is the real message? What is the positive?

There are several lessons to be learned from “It” that can be applied to both bullying and demon-clown sightings.

The first is that it’s important to act immediately. Since bullies both create, and feed on fear, it’s important to stop it before it starts. Before the bully gets too strong, and the bullied too weak. In the story, the children have all been haunted individually by Pennywise for years, but do nothing to stop it until it’s too late. Luckily, we get to learn from their misfortune. However, applying this in real life is difficult. The problem is that, as I previously stated, bullying is hard to identify and define. In the story, it isn’t until the children meet and realize that they are all suffering from the same thing, that they are even able to give It a name. Identifying and labeling the problem is the hardest part. But once they do, the characters are able to move on to the next step, or lesson, that we learn from the story. And the next step in defeating a bully.

Showing strength. There is, of course, strength in numbers. And once the kids realize they are not alone, they are able to assert themselves and stand up to their bully.  They realize that the less afraid they are, the less power It has over them. There is a smaller hole for the fear to creep in which makes them a harder target. They are no longer weak, which makes It no longer strong.

On the surface, It is a creepy bloodbath of a clown-slasher-film. But when we look deeper. When we look beneath the surface and into the sewer system of the film (if you will) we see something greater. We see a brave and powerful message to bullies. We see a huge step forward in the awareness of bullying and the dangers of ignoring it. We see the true strength and courage that exists in all of us when we work together, rather than stepping on the weak.

Or maybe you just like horror movies.

Either way, go check out Andrés Muschietti’s remake of It. In theaters September 8th.

Films of the 21st Century

Top 25 films of the 21st century:

  1. In Bruges (Martin McDonagh)
  2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  3. The Social Network (David Fincher)
  4. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
  5. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
  6. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
  7. No Country For Old Men (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  8. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  9. Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)
  10. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
  11. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
  12. Lucky Number Slevin (Paul McGuigan)
  13. The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson)
  14. Inside Out (Pete Docter)
  15. Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)
  16. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
  17. City of God (Fernando Meirelles)
  18. Memento (Christopher Nolan)
  19. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
  20. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
  21. Gladiator (Ridley Scott)
  22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  23. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
  24. 3:10 To Yuma (James Mangold)
  25. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)

Top films of the 21st century Honorable Mention:

  • Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
  • The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
  • The Town (Ben Affleck)
  • The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
  • Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
  • The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
  • Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
  • Avatar (James Cameron)
  • The Big Short (Adam McKay)
  • Inside Man (Spike Lee)
  • Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)

 

Top 10 Comedy Films of the 21st century:

  1. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  2. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
  3. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow)
  4. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  5. Sideways (Alexander Payne)
  6. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
  7. Juno (Jason Reitman)
  8. The Wolf of Wallstreet (Martin Scorsese)
  9. Mean Girls (Mark Waters)
  10. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

Top 10 Horror Films of the 21st century:

  1. Let the Right One in (Tomas Alfredson)
  2. The Witch (Robert Eggers)
  3. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
  4. Paranormal Activity 3 (Ariel Schulman)
  5. The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard)
  6. The Others (Alejandro Amenábar)
  7. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
  8. The Mist (Frank Darabont)
  9. American Psycho (Mary Harron)
  10. Saw (James Wan)

Top 10 films of the 21st century that I Could Watch Over and Over Again:

  1. The Social Network (David Fincher)
  2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird)
  3. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
  4. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
  5. Superbad (Greg Mottola)
  6. Chef (Jon Favreau)
  7. Troy (Wolfgang Peterson)
  8. Mean Girls (Mark Waters)
  9. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow)
  10. 8 Mile (Curtis Hanson)

Top 10 Romance Films of the 21st century:

  1. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  2. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  3. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russel)
  4. Brooklyn (John Crowley)
  5. Juno (Jason Reitman)
  6. Her (Spike Jonze)
  7. 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb)
  8. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  9. The Spectacular Now (James Ponsoldt)
  10. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)

Top 10 Sports Films  of the 21st century:

  1. Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg)
  2. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
  3. Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
  4. Lords of Dogtown (Catherine Hardwicke)
  5. Warrior (Gavin O’Connor)
  6. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
  7. Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood
  8. Fighter (David O. Russell)
  9. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
  10. Hardball (Brian Robbins)

Top 10 Animated Films  of the 21st century:

  1. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
  2. Inside out (Pete Docter)
  3. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
  4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
  5. Shrek (Vicky Jenson, Andrew Adamson)
  6. Up (Pete Docter, Bob Peterson)
  7. Wall-E (Andrew Stanton)
  8. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush)
  9. Monsters, Inc. (Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman)
  10. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)

Top 10 War Films  of the 21st century:

  1. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
  2. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
  3. Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)
  4. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood)
  5. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
  6. Enemy at the Gates (Jean-Jacques Annaud)
  7. Troy (Wolfgang Peterson)
  8. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
  9. The Pianist (Roman Polanski)
  10. Beasts Of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)

Top 10 Music Films of the 21st century:

  1. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  3. Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper)
  4. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
  5. 8 Mile (Curtis Hanson)
  6. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  7. Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray)
  8. Walk The Line (James Mangold)
  9. School of Rock (Richard Linklater)
  10. Ray (Taylor Hackford)

Top 10 Science Fiction Films of the 21st century:

  1. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
  2. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
  4. Avatar (James Cameron)
  5. Minority Report (Steven Spielberg)
  6. The Martian (Ridley Scott)
  7. Source Code (Duncan Jones)
  8. 28 Days later (Danny Boyle)
  9. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
  10. Signs (M. Night Shyamalan)

Top 5 Found Footage films of the 21st century:

  1. End of Watch (David Ayer)
  2. Cloverfield (Matt Reeves)
  3. Paranormal Activity 3 (Ariel Schulman)
  4. Chronicle (Josh Trank)
  5. Paranormal Activity (Ariel Schulman)

Top 10 Hidden Gems of the 21st century:

  1. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
  2. Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)
  3. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
  4. Chef (Jon Favreau)
  5. Safety Not Guaranteed (Colin Trevorrow)
  6. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  7. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Macon Blair)
  8. Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  9.  The Spectacular Now (James Ponsoldt)
  10. Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster)

Top 10 Obscene-Budget-Action-Explosion-Pump-Up Guilty Pleasure films of the 21st century:

  1. Inception (Christopher Nolan)
  2. Apocalypto (Mel Gibson)
  3. Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird)
  4. Crank (Brian Taylor)
  5. Furious 7 (James Wan)
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gun)
  7. Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro)
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
  9. Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino)
  10. John Wick (Chad Stahelski, David Leitch)

Naked and Afraid

While the rest of America pretended to be entertained by the NFL draft, I treated myself to a reality show that’s got entertainment value in spades. The show I am referring to is called Naked and Afraid. If you haven’t seen it, you are most likely under the impression that I am writing about an HBO late-night-soft-core porno or maybe a slasher film, but you are sadly mistaken. If you have seen it, you can go ahead and skip down a paragraph or two, while I explain the plot to these other idiots.

Two survivalists, one man, one woman, (who are either ex-military or that person you tell your kids not to stare at in downtown Los Angeles) are stripped of everything, including their clothes, and dropped into hostile environments. First they are assigned a P.S.R. or a “Primitive Survival Rating”, which takes attributes like mental toughness, experience and probably insanity and assigns them a score out of ten; with a one being the lowest and a ten being a Katniss Everdeen. They are given one survival item each, which usually ends up being a hatchet/machete and a flint….or fire starter…thing…. and then they are sent off into some ridiculous jungle, desert or swamp. The challenge: see if they can survive in the wilderness for 21 days completely naked and completely afraid.

What I really want to do is talk about the last episode which takes place in Bolivia. This is probably the best episode I have seen and it ended in suspense and mystery. But first, some quick background info about Bolivia, it is located in South America and it is pretty much like every other South American Country. Or in other words, It is hot, everyone likes soccer, there is probably a rainforest or two, a couple panthers, and a few dozen old ladies carrying baskets on their heads. Anyways, the reason this episode is so crazy is not because of the environment, but because of the female cast member, Sabrina. With a P.S.R. score of only 6.7, she falls somewhere between Dora the Explorer and a cameraman on Man vs. Wild. She then goes on to do three of the strangest, most memorable things, I have ever seen on reality TV.

1) Sabrina starts by introducing herself as an “American Witch”. If I am her male co-survivor, all i’m thinking is Shit!! Mainly because everyone knows that muggles are better suited for primitive survival because they haven’t been babied by their magical abilities all their lives. Plus, this witch is not a cool witch like Hermione or Selena Gomez, she is one of the bad ones… like the redheaded witch from Hocus Pocus. Throughout the 21 days, she wastes her energy making little witchy sculptures that look like what goth kids draw in their notebooks. Meanwhile, her partner is contracting, and I quote, “three kinds of jungle diseases”, including Malaria! So, either this lady was casting spells on him from day one or he was just off on his own rolling up jungle plants and smoking them. In the end, it says his recovery is on-going. I just want to take a second to truly appreciate the craziness that took place here. What other reality show has witches and people actually getting fatal diseases on the set? That guy is either dead or dying and he had a  P.S.R. score of 8-point-something which only puts him a little bit behind Liam Neeson.

2)  Her partner eventually gave up and was probably air-lifted to the best medical facility in Bolivia or in other words, the airport where he was then immediately flown to the U.S. where the doctors wear shoes.  Completely alone, Sabrina decides to pursue what I like to call, “The Wilson Approach“. The Wilson Approach comes from the hit film Castaway. In the movie, although I am sure you have seen it, Tom Hanks is trapped on an island for years all by himself. During his time he befriends a volleyball that washed up on shore with him. He draws a face on the ball, names it Wilson, and then proceeds to talk to it all the way up to the moment when Wilson floats away and breaks everyone’s heart. Well, Sabrina the witch took a very similar approach by drawing a smiley face on a rock and naming him “Mushroom Man”. As lovable as Wilson undoubtedly is, I would like to make some quick comparisons to demonstrate some key differences between Wilson and Mushroom Man. First of all, Tom Hanks is stuck on the island for 5 years (or something like that, I haven’t seen it in awhile) so befriending a volleyball is arguably reasonable behavior. Sabrina is about a week-and-a-half into her journey, is was only alone for like 20 minutes before she starts talking to Mushroom man. Secondly, Tom Hanks names Wilson after its brand of volleyball, a logical thought process even for someone who is friends with an inanimate object. Sabrina on the other hand, names her rock Mushroom Man even though the rock does not resemble a mushroom in any way. Image

3) Sabrina pulls of one of the boldest strategies I have ever seen in a survival situation. After being left alone to fend for herself while her partner selfishly dies in a Bolivian hospital, Sabrina begins to starve. She manages to hike about 30 feet from camp to a lovely little area at the base of a waterfall. The two survivors had been using this area to fish, cool off, and contract jungle diseases through their urethras (not sure if that’s the plural for urethra or not). However, famished from her lack of food, Sabrina is unable to catch any live prey. She has all but given up, when she finds, and I shit you not, a decaying bird head. Yes… a decaying bird head. She picks it up and as gross as it is, the audience takes a small amount of comfort in the fact that she is a survivalist, and no self-respecting survivalist would eat a decaying bird head. But then we remember, this is no ordinary survivor… this is a Rock-naming witch lady. Now, I know I am in no place to give wilderness survival advice. Realistically, I would have a P.S.R. of about 0.7 because I am Jewish and I can’t even tie a fishing knot, but even I know you shouldn’t eat decaying bird heads. However, Sabrina apparently skipped the “what to do when you come across a rancid old bird carcass” lesson at nut-job school, and she ate that bird head like her mamma made it. Soon after, she was rushed to a hospital and treated for Appendicitis, Hepatitises A-Z, and pretty much every other infection known to man kind. Luckily,  she is expected to make a full recovery.

Although, like I said, this is one of the better episodes of Naked and Afraid, there are a few unresolved issues. Did the male survivor, Vincent, ever recover? Is there a massive law suit against Naked and Afraid (probably not because I’m sure they sign about ten waivers)? What house was Sabrina placed in at Hogwarts? Did she get to keep Mushroom Man? If she did, did she divorce her husband (yes she is married) to be with Mushroom Man instead? The world may never know. Anyways, I urge you to tune in Sunday nights at 9PM ET/PT to catch the next thrilling episode of Naked and Afraid…. Unless you have HBO then watch Game of Thrones instead.

Next Year at the Oscars

The last two Academy Awards have been filled to the brim with exceptional films  and actors, but how will Hollywood maintain this standard of excellence without any new original ideas? How will the directors, writers and actors on the B and C list compete? What diversity will the protagonist of the best picture overcome? I invite you to an exclusive sneak preview about some ground breaking films that will be coming soon to a theater near you.

Citizen Kane in 3D. 

Digitally remastered to bring you the same excruciatingly boring plot for twice the price of admission. Now with ninety minutes of bonus footage.  Why not let a classic remain untouched? Because everything is better in 3D.

Finding Nemo 2: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Join Nemo, Dori, Marlin, the and the rest of the gang for a whole new adventure when Nemo’s spring break trip to the Gulf of Mexico takes an unexpected turn.

Mean Girls: The Untold Saga of Glen Coco

In this psychological thriller, Glen Coco, a sure winner of Spring Fling King, has the crown ripped unjustly from him and placed atop the head of his arch-nemesis, Shane Oman. Glen, distraught from the unprecedented loss, begins digging and uncovers a sinister student government conspiracy that stretches from the sexually active band geeks all the way to the plastics. Glen Coco will stop at nothing to restore his good name, but in a school where no one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems, how far is too far?

Spiderman Again

Same plot. Same Arachnid. Same drama. Totally different cast. Because coming up with new ideas is super hard.

Explosions

From visionary director, Michael Bay, comes a blockbuster hit about Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson and his fight to save a densely populated North American city from a bunch of enormous robots/aliens. Recovering from the initial attack and completely out of ideas, the U.S. government turns to an ex-convict/survivalist/NASCAR driver and his smokin’ hot girlfriend for help. Will bazookas and huge muscles be enough to stop the robot/alien menace?        Yeah, probably.

Affluenza 

The story of that rich dick-bag kid, Ethan Couch, who ran over those people with his car, and the lawyer that came up with the Affluenza (spoiled rotten) defense that got him off the hook. Starring Joffrey from Game of Thrones as Ethan Couch.

The Longest Ride

Another Nicholas Sparks book turned into a Valentine’s day date. Its going to be romantic. Its going to be depressing. Your girlfriend is going to want to see it.

Oscar

Named after the best picture nomination it will undoubtedly receive, this fictional bio-pic tells the story of Oscar, a Gay-Jewish-Black-HIV positive- Slave/Holocaust survivor, who despite aging in reverse and having a terrible stutter, eventually grows up to be a victim in the 9/11 attacks. Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

Her, Directed by Spike Jonze

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Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, covers the strange and unlikely romantic relationship between Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his operating system. It has been a critical success and aside from a few extremely uncomfortable scenes, was one of the better movies I have seen this year.

Although the film is essentially about a man being in love with his computer, I did not find the plot unbelievable at all. In fact, the only part I was skeptical of was that Joaquin Phoenix would ever have a chance to go home with Olivia Wilde when he’s rockin’ a pedophile mustache that would give Jerry Sandusky the creeps. But the idea of someone falling in love with their operating system is not entirely far-fetched. I mean, personally, I think SIRI is a total B-word, but give her the ability to feel, learn, joke, love, and Scarlett Johansson’s voice… we’ve got ourselves a whole different kind of situation.

Even  if you could never see yourself having phone sex with Scarlett’s bodiless voice,  I am sure you can at least buy one of the underlining metaphors of the film. The film basically reflects the increasing disengagement that us humans have with our physical surroundings and the way we are dependent on technology.  How many times have you seen multiple people sitting next to each other but  all fully immersed in their iPhones? And how often have you been to a concert where, instead of watching the show, everyone is snapchatting it to someone else? We get so caught up in the thousands of conversations we have online or via text message, that we forget about our actual lives. In fact, this metaphor becomes even more apparent when the operating system herself isn’t even satisfied with one conversation.

SPOILER ALERT: The operating system ends up maintaining some astronomical amount of simultaneous conversations and even falling in love with a number of them, which she confesses to Theodore Twombly towards the end of the film. Her does a good job of subtly explaining how we are rapidly losing our interpersonal skills and in a not-so-distant-future might be able to get by without any real human contact whatsoever.

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Phoenix does a great job of getting the audience to generally feel his emotions and pain and you find yourself rooting for the success of his unusual relationship. The operating system, Samantha, breaks your heart with her Pinocchio-esque need to be a real human. She feels that the only difference between her and a human is her body, or lack thereof and she wants so badly to be able to touch and feel Theodore, but sadly she cannot.

It may seem ridiculous, but  midway through the film I actually started to see the operating system as a human and it really got me thinking. If an artificial intelligence has the capacity to learn, and feel and even have original thoughts, why couldn’t you consider it a human? It was Descartes, one of the most famous philosophers of all time, who said, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” which translates to “I think, therefore I am.”  Can Samantha, the operating system not think? Is she not self-aware? Did she not name herself Samantha!? You may argue that the difference between her and a human is the five senses. Well Samantha can’t taste, smell or touch but she can hear and see through the microphone and camera lens of Theodore’s cellphone. Would you say that a person born without a sense of taste or smell is any less human?

Now, I am not here to say that the operating system is a human or not, but I was certainly impressed with the way Her made me question what it is to be human. Despite me ruining a solid portion of the plot, if you have not seen it already, I highly recommend the film. If not for the poetic dialogue, the exceptional acting, or seeing Amy Adams in an almost unrecognizable role, then see it for some information about an innovative new use for dead cats.