The full-circle final scene of this moody morality tale doesn’t fully repair the separation between the first act and the rest, and there are other script stumbles too (see the Carlisle-carny tension that goes nowhere), but every piece compels in spite of the whole; the cinematography and design is showstopping, the cast’s got panache a-plenty, and the violence and deception is shut-eye(s) thrilling (“When a man believes his own lies… people get hurt… And when the lies end, there it is”).
On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life. (IMDb)
Combines the accessible emotional punch of a mainstream drama (without getting sappy) with the unconventionality and boldness of an indie; the wonderfully edited timeline-jumping of the first half creates a uniquely compelling character set-up while the longer dialogues to follow solidify and bring to a tear-jerking climax the powerful yet nuanced redemption arc (see the return to those adorable skate kids). Phoenix is expectedly great, but it’s Hill who’s simply magnetic in a supporting role.
A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need. (IMDb)
Jonze’s poignantly prophetic near-future world is thoughtfully crafted, as the story subtly showcases its cultural milieu (see the letter writing job, voice-activated tech) and gorgeous, washed-out cinematography captures its streamlined urban isolation. The tenderness and tragedy of the central relationship (Phoenix and Johansson excel), meanwhile, offers more technological intrigue (Samantha’s development is fascinating-almost terrifying) while delicately examining the constructs of love.