<p>A union of brains and beauty, American actress Portia Doubleday was known for tackling complex roles in movies such as "Youth in Revolt" (2007) and "Her" (2013). The daughter of actors Christ...
Spike Jonze doesn't waste any time introducing us to the technology at the center of Her. "An operating system that can mimic human sentience?" a dangerously lonely Joaquin Phoenix wonders after catching glimpse of an ad in a transit station. "Don't mind if I do!" (He doesn't actually say that, don't worry.) But by the time we're meant to believe that such a world can seamlessly integrate characters like Scarlett Johansson's automated voice Samantha into the lives of living, breathing men and women like Phoenix's Theodore, we're already established residents of this arresting, icy, quivering world the filmmaker has built. We meet Theodore midway through his recitation of a "handwritten letter" he penned on behalf of a woman to her husband of many years. That's his job — tapping into his own unique sensititivies to play ghostwriter for people hoping to adorn their spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and children with personal notes of personal affection. Theodore is no independent contractor; he's part of a thriving company, and we almost get the feeling that the folks on the receiving end of these letters are in the know. Before we ever encounter Samantha, we're embedded in the central conceit of the movie: emotional surrogacy is an industry on the rise.
What makes Jonze's world so palatable is that, beneath its marvelously eerie aesthetic, this idea is barely science-fiction. Theodore, humbled and scarred by a recent divorce from lifelong love Catherine (Rooney Mara, who contrasts Johansson by giving a performance that, for a large sum of the movie, is all body and no voice), accesses the will to go on through interractions with video game characters and phone-sex hotlines. But the ante is upped with Samantha, the self-named operating system that Theodore purchases to stave off loneliness, deeming choice a far less contorting one than spending time with old pals like Amy (Amy Adams)... at first.
Samantha evolves rather quickly from an articulate Siri into a curious companion, who is fed and engaged by Theodore just as much as she feeds and engages him. Jonze paces his construction of what, exactly, Samantha is so carefully that we won't even catch the individual steps in her change — along with Theodore, we slowly grow more and more enamored and mystified by his computer/assistant/friend/lover before we can recognize that we're dealing with a different being altogether from the one we met at that inceptive self-aware "H-hello?" But Jonze lays tremendous groundwork to let us know this story is all for something: all the while, as the attractions build and the hearts beat faster for Samantha, we foster an unmistakable sense of doom. We can't help but dread the very same perils that instituted one infamous admission: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
But Jonze's sci-fi constructs are so cohesively intertwined with his love story that our dread doesn't exactly translate to an anticipation of HAL's hostile takeover. Her wedges us so tightly between Theodore and Samantha that our fears of the inevitable clash between man and machine apprehend a smaller, more intimate ruin. As Samantha's growth become more surprising and challenging to Theodore, to herself, and to us, the omens build for each.
And although all three parties know better, we cannot help but affix ourselves to the chemistry between Theodore and Samantha, and to the possibility that we're building toward something supreme. A good faction of this is due to the unbelievable performances of Phoenix — representing the cautious excitement that we all know so painfully well — and Johansson, who twists her disembodied voice so empathetically that we find ourselves, like Theodore, forgetting that we have yet to actually meet her. The one castigation that we can attach to the casting of Johansson is that such a recognizable face will, inevitably, work its way into our heads when we're listening to her performance. It almost feels like a cheat, although we can guarantee that a performance this good would render a figure just as vivid even if delivered by an unknown.
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In this way, Her is as effective a comment on the healthiest human relationships as it is on those that rope in third parties — be they of the living, automated, or greeting card variety. In fact, the movie has so many things to say that it occasionally steps on its own feet, opening up ideas so grand (and coloring them so brightly) that it sometimes has trouble capping them coherently. Admittedly, if Spike Jonze had an answer to some of the questions he's asking here, he'd probably be suspected of himself being a super-intelligent computer. But in telling the story of a man struggling to understand what it means to be in love, to an operating system or not, Jonze invites us to dissect all of the manic and trying and wonderful and terrifying and incomprehensible elements therein. Just like Samantha, Her doesn't always know what to do with all of its brilliance. But that might be part of why we're so crazy over the both of them.
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Short of the Week/Vimeo
It's always good to be able to laugh at yourself, and thanks to Shia LaBeouf's short film HowardCantour.com, online movie critics everywhere have the chance to do just that.
The 12-minute short, which originally screened earlier this year at the Cannes Critics' Week, follows the online film critic Howard Cantour (played by comedian Jim Gaffigan) who is faced with writing a review of the latest work by a director that he has idolized for decades. Cantour also goes up against some verbal and psychological abuse from two other critics/competitors/snobs (played by Thomas Lennon and Portia Doubleday). From free cookies at press junkets, to the behind-the-scenes politics that goes into deciding who gets to interview who, to the relationships between fellow critics, LaBeouf creates a sardonic and (relatively) on-point image of critics through the lens of an outsider. As Gaffigan's character so courageously says, "A critic is a warrior. Each one of us on the battlefield have the means to glorify or demolish."
In an interview with Short of the Week, LaBeouf explained his inspiration for making the short: "I know something about the gulf between critical acclaim and blockbuster business. I have been crushed by critics (especially during my Transformers run), and in trying to come to terms with my feelings about critics, I needed to understand them. As I tried to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at me and the people I’ve worked with, a small script developed."
Well, thanks to LaBeouf, the criticism has come full circle with the criticizee criticizing the critic. Did you get that? Good. (Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, I am definitely laughing.)
Check out the actor-turned-director's cinematic jab at online reviewers below:
What makes the destructive conclusion of Stephen King's Carrie so powerful is the absolute plainness that kicks off the story. Carrie White is the daughter of a fundamentalist Christian mother who dresses her in outdated, drab clothing so hideous, no beauty can escape its black hole of style. The look inspires the worst reactions imaginable from Carrie's high school classmates, who torture her so badly, she lashes out with telekinetic fury.
An absolutely terrifying scenario, but one we can't wait to see the young Chloe Moretz tackle in the upcoming remake from director Kimberly Peirce. The first photos from the set of Carrie have crept online and now we've got our first look at Moretz in one of the character's signature outfits. Green dress, blue cardigan, a cross necklace — yup, that's the modest Carrie. Moretz is a good looking gal and a solid actress, but even the simplest outfit instantly transforms her into the titular social outcast. Spot on.
Costarring Julianne Moore, Judy Greer and Portia Doubleday, Carrie is currently in production and is expected to hit theaters on March 15, 2013.
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[Photo Credit: Splash News]
One of the funniest and cunning performers working today, Judy Greer is still a relative unknown. Thanks to her ability to slip into every role, she's carved out a niche as being the perfect supporting actress, never making that big leap to leading lady status. Hopefully that'll begin to change with her recent string of high profile roles — after knocking it out of the park in last year's Oscar-nominated The Descendants and keeping things interesting on Two and a Half Men, CinemaBlend reports that Greer is set to join the upcoming remake of Carrie, where she'll play the nurturing high school gym teacher Miss Desjardin. And Carrie needs nurturing — she is a bit demonic, after all.
Greer joins an already killer cast including Chloe Moretz as the titular teen and Julianne Moore, as her unhinged mother. Also set to appear in the Stephen King adaptation is actress Portia Doubleday, who appeared in the little-seen (but quite hilarious) Michael Cera comedy Youth in Revolt. Doubleday will play Chris Hargensen, Carrie's mentally-abusive classmate who pushes the troubled gal over the edge. The recognizable horror title should help give both of these actresses a deserved career boost — or perhaps they'll continue being amazing supporting performers. Either way, there presence in Carrie gives the skepticism-worthy project another bump up in the talent department.
Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry, Stop-Loss), Carrie will shoot this summer for release on March 15, 2013.
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[Photo Credit: WENN.com]
"I never actually met Ray Liotta. I wanted to, but he's so scary in his movies." Actress PORTIA DOUBLEDAY couldn't summon up the courage to meet the Goodfellas star on the set of new film Youth In Revolt.
Hormones can wreak havoc on the teenage brain causing it to contemplate all sorts of mischief in its drive to sate its carnal appetite. In the R-rated teen comedy Youth in Revolt directed by Miguel Arteta and starring Michael Cera (Juno Superbad) and newcomer Portia Doubleday the volatile combo becomes downright hazardous.
The “teen” label is highly debatable here as Youth in Revolt’s hapless protagonist Nick (Cera) and his impish paramour Sheeni (Doubleday) are both too quick-witted and hyper-articulate to qualify as mere high school sophomores. It’s the Juno debate: I don’t know if any teens actually talk like this but if they do I guarantee none are as sophisticated or attractive as our Nick and Sheeni. No Youth in Revolt is more like a hipster’s whimsical projection of what his adolescence might have looked like if it weren’t spent buried in an issue of McSweeney’s. And on that level — as a sort of Porky’s for intellectuals — it actually works.
Though his vocabulary is highly advanced 16-year-old Nick shares one important trait in common with most boys his age: He’d like to lose his virginity preferably as soon as possible. But his chances seem woefully slim until he meets Sheeni an attractive girl possessing a mind as sharp as his but without the nagging insecurity and sexual inhibition. To top it off Sheeni appears more than willing to escort Nick into manhood; circumstances however conspire to thwart them at nearly every turn driving Nick to increasingly desperate lengths to be joined with her. Egged on by an imaginary wingman his shrewdly Machiavellian alter ego Francois Dillinger (also Cera) Nick’s actions escalate from mere lies and manipulation to arson and auto theft with startling speed and he soon earns the attention of the authorities.
With the cops hot on his trail Nick spends the last third of the film in a sort of hormone-fueled version of The Fugitive racing against time to crack the case of his virginity before being dragged away to juvenile hall. It’s one of the many odd shifts in tone that plague Youth in Revolt as Arteta can’t seem to decide between raunchy sex comedy and surreal coming-of-age tale. Thankfully he’s able to fall back on the talents of Cera and Doubleday whose amusing and endearing — if suspiciously mature — repartee carries the film.
Youth in Revolt hits theaters on Friday and stars Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Justin Long, Ray Liotta and Zach Galifianakis. The film is an adaptation of C.D. Payne's epistolary novel by the same name.
The film has been getting some great feedback and we've got four exclusive new photos of one if it's stars - Portia Doubleday as Sheeni Saunders. Check them out, below.
Played the vengeful bully Chris Hargensen in 2013 remake of "Carrie"
On-screen debut in "Legend of the Mummy"
Cast as Heather in "Mr. Sunshine"
Played the sex surrogate in "Her"
<p>A union of brains and beauty, American actress Portia Doubleday was known for tackling complex roles in movies such as "Youth in Revolt" (2007) and "Her" (2013). The daughter of actors Christina Hart and Frank Doubleday, she was born and raised in Los Angeles on June 6, 1988. Belonging to a family already deeply rooted in the show business, it was no surprise she and her older sister Kaitlin pursued an acting career. Although she had already appeared in a commercial by the age of eight and made her feature film debut in "The Legend of the Mummy" (1997), her parents insisted she finish high school, graduating from the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. One of her earliest roles was in "Youth in Revolt," a teen comedy based on C.D. Payne's novel of the same name, where she starred opposite Michael Cera as Sheeni Saunders, whom she described as "mean" and "complex." She followed "Youth in Revolt" with roles in "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" (2011) and as a recurring character in the short-lived sitcom "Mr. Sunshine" (ABC 2011). Her biggest role to date came in the remake of the horror classic "Carrie" (2013), where she played the villainous popular girl Chris Hargensen, who tormented the movie's telekinetic titular character. Later that year, Doubleday joined the cast of "Her" (2013), Spike Jonze's quirky yet thoughtful science fiction romantic film. "Her" explored the romantic boundaries between a humans and machines as it told the story of a man named Theodore, who fell in love with an operating system called "Samantha." Doubleday played Isabella, a sex surrogate hired by Theodore so he could finally reach intimacy with "Samantha."</p>