Tag Archives: Joaquin Phoenix

Cinema-Maniac: Earthlings (2010) Review

Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. The documentary is not an easy one to watch especially it footage of animal cruelty. Never once shying away from showing graphic footage which can speak for itself even when taken out of context. Scenes showing factory farms, slaughterhouses, hunting, bullfights, puppy mills, and primates being used in head injury experiments will shock those who value all forms of life equally. These scenes aren’t easy to watch and powerful enough get it point across towards viewers without ever needing to complete the film. By letting the sometime graphic footage play out in its entirety it will challenge what the viewer is capable of stomaching. The footage shown in its “Food” segment can make anyone unaware of what goes on inside a slaughterhouse think differently about what they eat. Its most haunting scene is at a fur farm. A skinned animal, perhaps a fox, lies glistening with blood and white fat and muscle. The creature is still alive, lifting her skinless head and blinking at the camera. Those few seconds gets across the horrific emotion that this skinned fox is feeling, and connect a thought to the viewer of seeing its own species brutally murdered for our very own livelihood without ever telling us.

How Earthlings sets up it proposition is by it’s opening. By elaborating how over the years there existed racism, sexism, and speciesism. This is the idea of assigning different values or rights to members depending on their species, or in other words favoring one’s own species. It acknowledges its purpose, in that it is demonstrating how animals have come to serve humankind. Never does it compare these crimes in being directly connected to one another as much it attempts to draw parallels that drive those action. Instead of making a direct comparison to the Holocaust it decides to make correlations; the most significant relation being both are caused by humans with power abusing those without power. What nonsense right? There’s no way the Holocaust is similar to…well now that I think about it there’s truth to that. The target isn’t a single race or religion beliefs in this case, but instead an entire species which is being murdered for another specific purpose. Tackling different aspects of the subject in five segments; pets, food, clothes, entertainment, and scientific research. Each receive different amount of screen time and each use a similar tactic to get their point across. Drawing parallel to a crime alongside footage of that goes along with said segments.

As much Earthlings is consider the definitive animal rights film by animal rights organizations, much like PETA efforts, their delivery can be heavy handed and some aspects flimsy. One of the major flimsy aspects are it statistics on how many animals are killed by humans. Being blown over proportion to the point that makes you questioned how in the world a particular specie shown in the film hasn’t become instinct. These statistics go into the billions which holds true for fish, but with other animals just accepting the facts becomes a mind game of what’s true and fabricated. There is truth to be found in what’s it saying, but exaggerating on the facts partially fail to inform the audience and instead make them question more if the information given to them is true inspite of the footage being played. Another issue is the film becomes very heavy handed in it delivery towards the end. The film last ten minutes beats the “animals suffered for our livelihood, man is bad” point over the head that is gives off an anti-human vibe. Despite claiming that all lifeforms consider Earthlings and should not contain the mindset of speciesism. The music by Moby sets a somber tone without being intrusive, and the narration by Joaquin Phoenix is very matter of fact. Though the script at times seems a bit heavy-handed, even quoting Shakespeare’s King Lear at one point, Phoenix’s delivery is calm and measured, in contrast with the visual horrors unfolding on-screen.

Earthlings graphic footage of animal cruelty and the degree it shows it too warrant the content in this film is not for everyone. For that it message delivery becomes cloudy, but never is it point ever loss. It certainly heavy handed towards the final minutes, but even before reaching the end it’s capable of persuading.


Cinema-Maniac: Her (2013) Movie Review

Technology never ceases to advance to the point that whatever possibilities come forward filmmakers will give their thoughts on the possible outcome of it. Everything from massive takeover to doomsday to near human extinction to elimination of an over reliance on technology. Whatever the audiences decide to categorize “Her” as can see a future and a relationship that correlate with our present time. Giving an entirely fresh perspective on familiar things that might have been lost to some of us.

Her is about a lonely writer developing an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need. It’s far from conventional both as a romance and sci-fi; we’re not beaten over the head that the protagonist is a loser nor does that become trait of his character, the interaction between human and artificial intelligence is not a split between good or evil, and is a genuine representation of the hardships of maintaining a relationship not just getting into one. The story allows time for Samantha to develop mannerism and speaking pattern more in liking of an actual person. That in turn allows Theodore to become more comfortable around her and letting the audiences deeper into Theodore past. Underlying Theodore to see human traits in a new light. All Theodore Twombly and OS Samantha have in their relationship is the capacity to listen to each other. Through their several conversations develop an intimate relationship only with words. This form of communication is all they have and because of that the romance that does not come across being superficial. Samantha might be programmed to follow a specific function, but never once that does it feel the emotions behind Samantha words are artificial. As a romance film it succeeds because the characters are very likable with tackling issues that are down to Earth. Never does it side track from these two relationship, but neither does it limit itself to just it honest depiction of romance. Serving as commentary on society, technology, and the definition of being human. This also leads into understanding the future depicted in the film. Nothing presented in the film depiction of the future seems far off from activities we’re doing right now. Instead it’s presents them on a broader scope from subtle details like people constantly ignoring each other walking on the street, no one questioning why a person is talking to him or herself, and the business aspect that humans might only want to accept what they like. Some strongly feel that machines can never developed to become human, but this film dares to say maybe it’s the other way. Daring to challenge the audiences that we might be living physical beings, but is what we do in our life any different of that of the machines we create.

Joaquin Phoenix in his sensitive and perceptive take on the role aces it. This is a performance that you can identify with. He’s not simply awkward for the sake of being, he has baggage and connection issues. There’s sincerity in his words and mannerisms. As “Samantha,” Johansson has never tapped into the essence of her abilities as an actress the way she does in “Her.” As an OS, full of wonder and curiosity, “Samantha” is essentially a child. Scarlett Johansson, whom exists simply as a voice, has the ability to woo and excite, despite her characters’ obvious limitations, but the two together and it’s a match made partially in reality and coding. Spike Jonze provides a post-modern feel to the film by taking inspirations from the technologies that’s available today, betting on where its next evolutionary leap could be & exploring that breakthrough with grounded realism. Production design puts up an advanced vision of a world that feels strangely familiar. Cinematography makes ingenious use of color palettes and lighting to add more vividness to the story that ultimately contrasts with the colorless world its characters are living in. Editing gives this story a much admirable relaxed pace & the score by Arcade Fire is soul-stirring.

Her deconstructs two genres and takes them both in unconventional directions. It’s an in depth look on romance in a tech heavy age, but confronts the question of what it means to be human. Correlating that in fact artificial intelligence and humans can become one another finding a greater appreciation with those we interact with. Showing the beauty behind interaction some of us presume technology is has long destroyed through a very thoughtful film.