Movies for Lent: Her


For those of you who can see this welcome to the first post in a new short series on Films and Faith I’m calling –  Movies for Lent (see what I did there). The intention of these posts is to highlight a small selection of films that I feel have some relevance to the season of Lent.

I am however aware that there may be a percentage of people who don’t see this.  You are the strong-willed folk who, for Lent, have walked away from social media. In a strange way though it’s you that I really want to address.

Her tells the story of Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer, who after a break up falls in love with his computer’s new operating system, seductively voiced by Scarlett Johansson. As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt.

Spike Jonze’s great film asks us a lot of questions very relevant to today. How do we interact with technology and how deep does the rabbit hole of that relationship go?

Think about it we all do it numerous times a day. Looking down checking for Facebook likes, tweets ,emails and all other manner of communication. We ask Siri rather than stop and ask a person for directions. Traffic lights become a quick break from looking up to return to looking down to text or tweet again. Google has the answers for all of our studying needs. Our books can be downloaded rather than picked up and felt. Missed that TV programme last night that everyone will be talking about today in the office? It’s ok you can catch on your commute to work via several handy apps.

Technology is everywhere and is largely unavoidable. We all buy in to some degree.

The problem comes when we are distracted by it and obsessed with it. When the constant looking down stops us from seeing what is up ahead. When we don’t even watch a film anymore without a laptop open to see what else is going on.

However I am full aware that there is another very valid side of the coin. The connectivity of technology is helpful too.

The friends thousand of miles away feel that little closer. Even though we don’t speak as much as we would like social media and technology make it easier to know what is going on in their lives and it feels good to still be connected.

The key is balance. When the technology takes us out of conversations around tables and makes us live in an insular world where the appearance of sociability is shown by liking things on Facebook. When our faces are more regularly illuminated by pixels rather than conversation we need to reassess.

To those who have given social media up for Lent you have my great respect in some ways. I know I couldn’t do it.

Recently though I did attempt a digital sabbath as recommended by The School of Life. 48 hours away from social media as an encouragement to reconnect with reality which, for me, was much harder than I had anticipated. I would encourage you to give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Also watch Her. watch without your laptop, tablet or phone open.

Watch the relationship between Theodore and his operating system deepen and ask yourself is that me?

Am I too in love with my tech?.

Neill Blomkamp: Dystopian futures that speak to today

Chappie Poster

Chappie is released this weekend in the UK and I’m excited about seeing it. Over the last few years I have, after several repeat viewings, become a huge fan of Neill Blomkamp’s previous films District 9 and Elysium.

Blomkamp attempts to make intelligent science fiction. Neither District 9 or Elysium are perfect films but in both cases they attempt to make bold statements on our current world through dystopian futures.

Blomkamp appears to be interested in the social structures we have created be it either through race, as depicted in District 9, or the class system, as depicted in Elysium.

Chappie appears, from my viewings of the various trailers, to tap into this idea again. How do we cope with someone different? Someone who wants to be seen on a level playing field and yet are rejected based on appearance, race, religion, sexuality or whatever the difference may be.

Whether intentional or not Blomkamp is acknowledging something very current in our world. Our fear of the stranger, our fear of difference and ultimately our fear of change.

I can’t wait for Chappie this weekend and I’m even more excited to see another Blomkamp dystopian future that could help us address the present .