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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Puerto Rico's Chayanne and Mexico's Pilar Montenegro were the big winners at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Thursday night, taking home three awards each.
Spanish trio Las Ketchup, Mexican group Mana, Argentine-Mexican duo Sin Bandera and Mexico's Los Temerarios and Lupilla Rivera all walked away with two awards each.
Latin stars Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, Luis Miguel, India and Juanes picked up one trophy each at the ceremony.
For the first time in the show's history, awards were also given for label of the year in various genres. Sony Discos led the way as the top label on six Billboard charts, including Hot Latin Tracks, Top Latin Albums, Latin Pop Airplay, Tropical/Salsa Airplay, Latin Pop Albums, and Tropical/Salsa Albums.
This year's event included two special award presentations. Mexican composer/singer Armando Manzanero was honored with the Billboard Hall of Fame Award for his contribution to Latin music.
Panamanian rapper El General, meanwhile, received the Spirit of Hope Award for his work with Ninos Pobres Sin Fronteras (Poor Children With No Borders), the Panama-based foundation he created and supports.
Ricky Martin, who performed the song "Tal Vez (Maybe)," was honored with Telemundo's Star award.
Other performers included Chayanne and Montenegro, who performed their hit songs, and Mexican star Thalia, who won the female pop album of the year for Thalia and the Telemundo Viewers Choice award. A.B. Quintanilla, Alexandre Pires, Gilberto Santa Rosa, India Kumbia Kings, and Lupillo Rivera also performed at the ceremony.
Below is a complete list of winners at the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards, presented May 8 at the Miami Arena.
Hot Latin Track Of The Year: "Y Tu Te Vas" Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Hot Latin Track Of The Year, Vocal Duo: "Por Ese Hombre" Brenda K. Starr With Tito Nieves and Victor Manuelle (Sony Discos)
Hot Latin Tracks Artist Of The Year: Alexandre Pires (RCA/BMG Latin)
Songwriter Of The Year: Estefano (10 titles)
Producer Of The Year: Rudy Perez (8 titles)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Male: Un Dia Normal Juanes (Surco/Universal Latino)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Female: Thalia Thalia (EMI Latin)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Duo or Group: Revolucion De Amor Mana (Warner Latina)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, New Artist: Las Ketchup Las Ketchup (Shaketown/Columbia/Sony Discos)
Top Latin Albums Artist Of The Year: Los Temerarios (Fonovisa/UG)
Latin Rock Album Of The Year: Revolucion De Amor Mana (Warner Latina)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Male: Viceversa Gilberto Santa Rosa (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Female: Latin Songbird: Mi Alma Y Corazon India (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Duo or Group: Confesiones... Monchy & Alexandra (J&N/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, New Artist: Un Gran Dia En El Barrio Spanish Harlem Orchestra (Ropeadope/AG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Male Solo Artist: Amorcito Corazon Lupillo Rivera (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Male Group: Una Lagrima No Basta Los Temerarios (Fonovisa/UG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Female Group or Female Solo Artist: Libre Jennifer Pena (Univision/UG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, New Artist: A Toda Onda La Onda (EMI Latin)
Latin Greatest Hits Album Of The Year: Grandes Exitos Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Latin Compilation Album Of The Year: Las 30 Cumbias Mas Pegadas Various Artists (Disa/UG)
Latin Jazz Album Of The Year: The Shadow Of The Cat Gato Barbieri (Peak/Concord)
Latin Dance Club Play Track Of The Year: "Escape/Escapar (Remixes)" Enrique Iglesias (Interscope/Universal Latino)
Latin Dance Single Of The Year: "Alive (Thunderpuss Remix)" Jennifer Lopez (Epic)
Latin Rap Album Of The Year: A La Reconquista Hector & Tito (VI Music/Universal Latino)
Publisher Of The Year: EMI April, ASCAP
Publishing Corporation Of The Year: EMI Music Publishing
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Male: "Y Tu Te Vas" Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Female: "Quitame Ese Hombre" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Duo or Group: "Entra En Mi Vida" Sin Bandera (Sony Discos)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Entra En Mi Vida" Sin Bandera (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Male: "Viviendo" Marc Anthony (Columbia/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Female: "Por Ese Hombre" Brenda K. Starr (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Duo or Group: "Te Quiero Igual Que Ayer" Monchy & Alexandra (J&N/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Asereje" Las Ketchup (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Male Solo Artist: "Te Solte La Rienda" Lupillo Rivera (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Male Group: "Perdoname Mi Amor" Conjunto Primavera (Fonovisa)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Female Group or Female Solo Artist: "Quitame Ese Hombre (version nortena)" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Quitame Ese Hombre (version nortena)" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Latin Christian/Gospel Album Of The Year: Storm Fernando Ortega (Word)
Latin Tour Of The Year: Luis Miguel (Warner Latina)
Hot Latin Tracks Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Top Latin Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Latin Pop Airplay Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Regional Mexican Airplay Label Of the Year: Fonovisa
Latin Pop Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Tropical/Salsa Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Regional Mexican Albums Label Of the Year: Univision Music Group
The winners are determined by sales and airplay measured by Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, respectively, reflected in the Billboard charts for the issues dated Feb. 16, 2002, through Feb. 8, 2003.