Let me set the mood for you. The boombox radio just switched from Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” to Collective Soul’s “December,” and O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murder. But despite all three of those things being highly popular, you want something that isn’t so mainstream, and which has nothing to do with music or murder. You want love and affection, so you go searching in the only place you can think of: your Dell computer, on which you’ve just installed Windows 95. And there you find Clippy, that hot piece of virtual metal ass that came as the assistant to Microsoft’s Office. And so begins the video seen above, a parody of Spike Jonze’s Her, for which he recently took home the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
As I write this we’re a little over a half hour away from the beginning of the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Okay, technically they’re already in the bit where people jabber about the things people on the red carpet are wearing, but that’s not exactly in GFR’s purview. What is of some interest to is how the science fiction nominees will fare this year, particularly Gravity and Her, both of which are up for the big one, the Best Picture award. I’ll be very surprised if either of them walks away with that trophy, but you never know. Sandra Bullock is also up for Best Actress in a Leading Role, up against tough competition including Amy Adams in American Hustle, Judi Dench in Philomena, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County. Will her zero-g antics earn her a little golden dude?
Anytime the Academy Awards rolls around, there’s usually an outcry from fans that not enough genre films are recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Luckily, this year the movie that has the most nominations is Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, but even if the Academy doesn’t give science fiction the respect it deserves, there are several long-standing and prestigious awards focused specifically on honoring genre material. Last night we posted the Nebula Award nominations, and now the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films has announced its nominees for the 40th annual Saturn Awards.
Unsurprisingly, Gravity is a front-runner for the Saturns as well, earning eight nominations including Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actress for Sandra Bullock, Best Supporting Actor for George Clooney, and Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. Gravity is tied with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for the most nominations. Some of the other nominees for Best Science Fiction Film are Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pacific Rim, Riddick, and Star Trek Into Darkness.
Think of all the romantic couples in cinema’s history who would have been the perfect valentines for one another. Rhett and Scarlett. Rick and Ilsa. Ripley and the alien. Well, it was a particularly lovely holiday for sci-fi’s newest “it” couple: Her‘s Theodore Twombly and the maliciously cordial HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Apparently the two recently met and hit it off like nobody’s business. We here at GFR expect to hear the pitter-patter of a load of red-faced, glasses-wearing cyborgs any day now.
Despite the all-around critical success that Spike Jonze’s Her has received in past months, there are quite a few people out there who think lead character Theodore’s (Joachim Phoenix) relationship with his Scarlett-Johansson-voiced OS Samantha is sad and unrealistic. These are the people I think would end up using an artificially intelligent OS the most, getting buck wild when it doesn’t agree with their shitty taste in movies. But is this future even possible? As most of you may already assume, I’m nowhere near smart or informed enough to answer that question. But Dag Kittlaus might be.
Kittlaus is one of the co-founders of Siri, the voice recognition app that tells you what the weather is like outside, as well as its definition and word origin. He wrote a guest column for Variety that took a lighthearted look at the complexities that computer science need to master before something like Samantha could begin waxing poetic and getting her phone sex on. Not surprisingly, there are more than a few factors that come into play.
Reddit’s AMAs — short for “Ask Me Anything” — have become a constantly intriguing source for stories and insights from creative folks of all stripes. As the concept has become more popular, we’ve seen celebs including Joss Whedon, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Bryan Cranston sit down to field questions from Reddit’s readers. It’s a unique way to interact with celebs — or even just regular people who have interesting lives or points of view — directly, without having the intermediary of a journalist or film editor or publicist picking and choosing the questions. Sure, not every question gets answered, but many of the ones that do are funny or fascinating. Director Spike Jonze recently sat down for an AMA and talked about the origins of his latest film, Her, and why he wanted Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson for the two main roles.
Jonze revealed that the idea for Her came via an experience many of us have had over the years, and which has gotten a renewed relevance thanks to Apple’s “digital assistant” Siri. Jonze had a conversation with a chatbot, sharing the bizarre experience of talking to a thing that you know isn’t really talking to you, just simulating conversation based on its programming. That planted the initial seed for the idea of a relationship between a human and an A.I. program, but Jonze said he didn’t return to the idea until five years later. “I started thinking about it more as a way to write about relationships, and trying to understand them.”