Anticipating Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ And Revisiting A Forgotten Pop Song

There are a few filmmakers out there that I’m always waiting and eager to see what they have next: Directors like Alfonso Cuaron, Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson and Spike Jonze have earned a free ride with me from where I’ll follow them from project to project forever, even after movies I don’t always love.

So as an unapologetic mega-fan of Spike Jonze’s music video work and especially his films — and yes, even his last movie, Where The Wild Things Are — I’m impossibly excited to say outloud: Hey, new Spike Jonze film coming in November! Finally!

Her stars a Joaquin Phoenix, as an introverted sad-sack of a man, shut off from the world, with some clearly buried emotional damage to work through. Just based on the trailer, Phoenix looks peculiar and slightly off — sporting a morose blandness akin to Bryan Cranston’s early look as Walter White on Breaking Bad. But after his eccentric temper and strange mannerisms of The Master, it’s nice to Phoenix in a more restrained, tic-free performance. And for Jonze, Her comes off as a more grounded film — with real-world characters — than he’s done in awhile. That is, if a sentient artificial intelligence can be considered “grounded.”

The rest of the impossibly stacked cast includes Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Oliva Wilde, Chris Pratt, and the titular computerized A.I. voice of one Scarlett Johansson.

Sure, there are elements of this trailer could set off the ol’ “Twee-dar:” The high concept of a man being brought out of his shell by relating to, and possibly falling in love with an artificial woman (See: Lars and the Real Girl meets I, Robot?); the indie romance disguised as subtle sci fi; the indie rock-leaning music.

On that front, Arcade Fire will have new songs from its forthcoming record as part of the film’s soundtrack, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O reportedly wrote an original song as well — which you can hear a portion of “The Moon Song” at the 1:37 mark in the trailer.

But what really makes the trailer work for me musically is the inclusion of another Yeah Yeah Yeahs track, “Skeletons,” from the 2009 album It’s Blitz!.

It’s a song I had actually forgotten about from that record, but hearing it again now, I think it’s one of the best songs on that album, more so than my previous favorite, the buzzier dance pop single “Zero.” The song is still fizzy synth pop, but there’s a buzzing melancholy there that really fits the tone of the film. It’s nice to rediscover this older song and hear it in a new way.

So yeah, there’s enough to like here in the trailer to peak my interest, and I’m hoping that because it’s a filmmaker like Spike Jonze at the helm, those initial reservations will fade.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Sacrilige’ A Satisfying Anthem, Complete With Gospel Choir

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' fourth album Mosquito is out now. (Courtesy of the artist)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fourth album Mosquito is out now. (Courtesy of the artist)

A few weeks back, Yeah Yeah Yeahs enticed us with a short teaser video that brought news of its long-awaited return with its fourth album Mosquito. While obviously welcome news for fans waiting for a new record, the video also hinted a musical evolution: The snippet had a gauzier pop feel, almost like a Beach House song, but refracted through frontwoman Karen O’s enigmatic point of view.

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