Spike Jones and Margaret Qualley Make a Knock-Out of a Perfume Commercial

Posted on August 30, 2016 at 8:39 am

Margaret Qualley (daughter of Andie MacDowell) stars in a new commercial for Kenzo Perfume, directed by Spike Jonze (“Her,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”) and it is wonderfully, deliciously, deliriously nutty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABz2m0olmPg

The choreography is by Ryan Heffington (Sia’s “Chandelier”) and the song is “Mutant Brain” by Sam Spiegel (Jonze’s brother) and Ape Drums​.

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Advertising Shorts

Her

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Tense emotional confrontations and loss
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: December 25, 2013
Date Released to DVD: May 12, 2014
Amazon.com ASIN: B00HEKSZVK

her-joaquin-phoenix-spike-jonze

“Transition objects” are usually thought of as the stuffed toys toddlers hold onto so as a way of feeling more secure as they begin to separate from their parents and navigate the bigger world.  But we all have them.  We all carry real or virtual talismans to keep us from feeling adrift or abandoned.

And we all understand the bliss and torment of the Rorschach test stage of love, as what we project onto the objects of our physical and emotional desire has to give way to the reality of who they are.  If we’re lucky, it’s even better than we imagined and they feel that way about us, too.

Director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malcovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”), working from his own screenplay, combines these two ideas in a wistful love story set slightly in the future simply called, in a reflection of its longing, “Her.”  Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore and his job as a ghost writer of analog letters makes a kind of sense as the logical next step in a world where communication by text and Skype might make the idea of an old-school correspondence more valuable just as the ability to create them is barely vestigial.

Theodore spends his days writing letters of great tenderness and affection but there is none in his own life.  Recently divorced from Catherine (Rooney Mara) for reasons we never learn, he is withdrawn, isolated, alone.  When he is not working, he stays in his spare, generic apartment and plays a video game.  And then a new operating system comes on the market that is so responsive it virtually (in both senses of the word) achieves consciousness.  (Apparently, no one there has seen “Terminator,” because this sounds a lot like Skynet to me, but perhaps that is the weaponized version.)  Theodore decides to give it a try.

The new operating system calls herself “Samantha” and she has two enormously appealing qualities.  First, she has the throaty, intimate voice and delicious laugh of Scarlett Johansson (a performance of magnificent warmth and wit).  Second, she is utterly devoted to Theodore and utterly formed by him.  It is that most gratifying of relationships because he is everything to her and she is content for him to be so.  Plus, she is wonderfully competent, sorting through thousands of emails in a fraction of a second to organize them and, along the way, learn everything about him.

Theodore is not ready for a real relationship with a woman who might want something from him or be different from what he visualizes or idealizes.  But Samantha seems perfect, both in her innocence and in her progress.  He has the pleasure of explaining the world to her and his spirit opens up as he sees her curiosity, appreciation, and engagement.  He is reassured that the people around him (his boss, played by Chris Pratt, his neighbor and college friend, played by Amy Adams) seem to think it is perfectly normal to have a virtual girlfriend.  Samantha seems happy about it, too.

But as we have seen in “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Ruby Sparks,” George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” (which became the musical “My Fair Lady’), there’s no happily ever after in a relationship with a creation.  Samantha’s growth trajectory is astronomical.  No single human can really have her.  And the human qualities she lacks turn out to be important for a relationship, too.

Jonze’s story may be set in the future but it is an ancient one, going back to  the original Greek myth about the sculptor who fell in love with the statue he made and whose name became the title of Shaw’s play.  It is an eternal story because it is a more extreme version and thus a powerful metaphor about the risks and pleasures of intimacy.  Jonze tells that story here with great sensitivity and lyricism, the kind of artistry that machinery can never replace.

Parents should know that this movie includes strong language, sexual references and situations and nudity, and tense and sad experiences.

Family discussion:  Would you like to have an e-friend like Samantha?  What makes those relationships easier than interacting in real life?  What makes them harder?

If you like this, try: “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Ruby Sparks,” “Pygmalion,” “Catfish,” and “You’ve Got Mail”

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DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Romance Science-Fiction

WTWTA Blog

Posted on May 14, 2009 at 10:00 am

There is no movie I am more excited about right now than the Spike Jonze-directed “Where the Wild Things Are,” opening this fall and based on the classic children’s book by Maurice Sendak. Having watched the trailer several times, I was thrilled to get a chance for more information on “We Love You So,” a new blog from Jonze about the film. It is a lot of fun to peek behind the scenes and hear his thoughts on some of the movies that influenced the look of the film. And it is worth visiting the site just to take a look at this photo Jonze found on Flickr of an adorable costume made for a real-life Max by his mom, who calls herself Kitjule1010. maxcostume1.jpg

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Behind the Scenes Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Where the Wild Things Are

Posted on March 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

Maurice Sendak’s spare, poetic, and deeply wise book has been lovingly unfolded into a movie about the child who lives in all of us, brave and fearful, generous and needy, angry and peaceful, confident and insecure, adventuresome and very glad to come home. The movie may challenge children who are used to bright, shiny colors and having everything explained to them but if they allow it, Max and his story will bloom inside them as it will for anyone open to its profound pleasures.

The book’s opening line is as well-remembered as “Call me Ishmael” or “It was a dark and stormy night.” “The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him ‘WILD THING.'” Those who wondered what prompted Max’s mischief will accompany him as he experiences the jubilation of creating his own cozy space, a snowball-stocked igloo, and as he joyously takes on his sister’s friends in a snowball fight, only to be inconsolably crushed when they carelessly smash his icy lair and then leave without him.

There has never been a more evocative portrayal on film of the purity, the intensity, the transcendence of childhood emotions. The hallmark of maturity is the way we temper our feelings; it is not a compliment when we call someone “childish” for not being able to do so. Our experiences — and our parents — teach us that life is complex, that sorrow and joy are always mixed, and that we can find the patience to respond to frustration without breaking anything. But one reason that we mis-remember childhood as idyllic is the longing for the ferocity of childhood pleasures. Jonze and his Max (Max Records) bring us straight into the immediacy and open-heartedness of a child’s emotions.

We know we are in a child’s world even before the movie begins, with scrawled-on opening credits and then a breathtaking, child’s eye opening bursting with sensation, all the feelings rushing together. The film brilliantly evokes the feeling of childhood with the same freshness and intimacy director Spike Jonze showed in the influential videos he made when he was barely out of his teens. Max’s mother is beautifully played by Catherine Keener who makes clear to us, if not to Max, her devotion and sensitivity in the midst of concerns about work and a budding romance. His incoherent fury at her being distracted, including a kiss from a date who seems to think he has the right to tell Max how to behave almost hurtles him from the house, into the night, where he runs and runs, and then to a boat, where he sails and sails, until he comes to the land of the Wild Things.

They begin to attack him, but Max tames them with his bravado and imagination and he becomes the king, promising to do away with loneliness and make everyone happy. The book’s brief story blooms here as Max interacts with the Wild Things (voices of James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker, and Chris Cooper). Each of them represents or reflects Max’s emotions or experiences. They love sleeping in a big pile and are thrilled with Max’s plans for a fort. But Max learns how difficult it is to be responsible for the happiness of others, and before long, like other children in stories who have traveled to lands filled with magic and wonder, he longs for home.

The movie’s look is steeped in the natural world, with forests and beaches, and intricate Waldorf-school-style constructions that evoke a sense of wonder. The screenplay by Dave Eggers and Jonze locates the heart of Sendak’s story. They have not turned it into a movie; they have made their own movie as a tribute to Sendak, to childhood, to parenthood, to the Wild Things we all are at times, and to the home that waits for us when those times are over.

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