Wednesday, August 21, 2013
SPIKE JONZE's "HER" WILL CLOSE NYFF 2013
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
51st NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2013
Closing Night Gala Selection
World Premiere of Spike Jonze’s
Spike Jonze’s HER, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and Scarlett Johansson will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night Gala presentation for the upcoming 51st New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13).
Joaquin Phoenix in HER
New York Film Festival 2013
Written and directed by Jonze, HER is set in Los Angeles, in the near future and follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice (Scarlett Johansson), who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other. HER is an original love story that explores the evolving nature—and the risks—of intimacy in the modern world.
A brief note on human-computer conversations
Almost since computers were invented, there have been computer programs that respond in one way or another to user input with output that (dynamically) simulates response from an intelligent creature.
Similarly, in films, these interactions themselves have been simulated with scripts that portray interaction between humans and computer programs.
Naturally, scripts can portray a more sophisticated interaction than actual programs can (at least for now). (It's easier to write a single scripted dialog for a movie than multiple scripts from which the dialog must be extracted dynamically by a program.)
In movies, the interaction is usually between one person talking and the computer responding vocally. Sometimes the conversation is not just with a voice from a program in a desktop or mainframe computer, but a program embodied in a robot – which is essentially a computer with a physical body. Of course, the interaction is fixed by the script. (Everytime you watch the film, the dialog is the same; as compared with a program for which every time you talk to it the dialog can be different.)
One early and very famous example of human computer dialog in movies is HAL_9000 from Kubrick’s SPACE ODYSSEY 2001 (1968), where HAL was a major villain.
A nice robot who interacted with humans was Number 5 from SHORT CIRCUIT (1986).
STAR WARS of course introduced R2D2 AND C-3PO.
Computer programs can interact with humans dynamically, to create a real-life human-computer dialog that can evolve in real time. It can use either voice input, with voice recognition to convert the speech into words, or just words themselves entered as text. Similarly the computer can respond with text or vocally, by converting its text response to speech.
The most significant current examples of real-life dynamic person-computer voice interaction are SIRI from APPLE and voice recognition programs on ANDROID devices. There is also a voice recognition program available for anyone to use or develop with called DRAGON from a company called NUANCE.
In the real world, a very famous early automated chat program was ELIZA, (specifically an algorithm called “DOCTOR”). The program simply picked a key word in an input sentence and constructed a new sentence from it in a very general way, based on a simple set of rules. But it could still produce an impressive conversation (kind of a parody of a psychiatrist talking with a patient).
For example, it could respond to “My name is Mary” with “Hello, Mary. My name is ELIZA.” (note that here, the RULE is: REPLACE “My name is NAME” with “Hello, NAME. My name is ELIZA.”) Or it could respond to “My head hurts” with “Do you know why your head hurts?” (RULE: REPLACE “My ‘WORDS’” with "Do you know why your ‘WORDS’?”) Early versions of ELIZA were chat based: that is, text input, text output.
More sophisticated, current AI (Artificial Intelligence) chats can use voice recognition for input, text to speech for voice output, and can use rule-based logic, statistical big-data correlations, and other techniques to create sophisticated computer-human interactions.
TRANSMEDIA projects are more and more using robots, as well as just disembodied voices, to interact with humans in the real world. Giving computer programs a “personality” which becomes part of the way the response is formulated is a developing field.
Artificial Life, or AL is the branch of AI that instantiates some form of “life” along with intelligence as part of the program – for example an intelligent voice or robot is endowed with a unique personality. One of the earliest problems that was acknowledged in early studies of Artificial Life is the question: when does an Artificial Life creation become sufficiently alive that turning off the computer, or stopping a computer program, becomes the “killing” of the AL creation. A similar question, which is at the heart of HER is “what happens when a human and an AL creation develop a relationship?”
Some comments about the film
NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said of HER, “The tone is magical, the freedom of the narrative is breathtaking, Joaquin Phoenix continues to be one of the most adventurous actors in movies, Rooney Mara and Amy Adams are unforgettable, Scarlett Johansson’s voice will break your heart, and so will this impossibly delicate, funny, daring movie.”
Rooney Mara in 2009.
Rooney plays Catherine in HER.
Photo by Eric Roffman
Spike Jonze said, “I’m very excited that it’s a premiere in the city. The New York Film Festival is where we premiered our first movie and that’s really special. It was our first U.S. premiere of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and we had all our friends there and it feels so nice to come back to NYFF.”
Rose Kuo, the Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, said, "In dealing with tragi-comic puppeteers, renegade orchid growers, an island of wild things, or a man's unique love affair, visionary film-maker Spike Jonze has shown himself to be the poet-laureate of our increasingly post-human world. Jonze’s extraordinary new film, HER, features Joaquin Phoenix who delivers an unforgettable, emotionally nuanced performance."
FilmLinc Daily Managing Editor Brian Brooks spoke with Jonze about HER, looking ahead to the debut of the film. That interview can be found at
More ticket information for the New York Film Festival will be available on
Written and directed by Spike Jonze,
> Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master,” “Walk the Line”),
> Amy Adams (“The Master,” “Doubt”),
> Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”),
> Olivia Wilde ("Tron", "House", the upcoming “Rush”) and
> Scarlett Johansson (“Lost in Translation”).
It is produced by Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay. Daniel Lupi, Natalie Farrey and Chelsea Barnard serve as executive producers.
The film reunites many of Jonze’s longtime creative collaborators, including production designer KK Barrett, editor Eric Zumbrunnen and costume designer Casey Storm, who worked together on “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Adaptation.” and “Being John Malkovich.” Joining them is director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and editor Jeff Buchanan (HBO’s “Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak,” which Jonze co-directed). The music is composed by Arcade Fire.
HER is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation of an Annapurna Pictures Production. It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
LINKS - CREDITS
HER - IMDB
SPIKE JONZE - IMDB
SPIKE JONZE - WIKIPEDIA
JOAQUIN PHOENIX - IMDB
SCARLETT JOHANNSON - IMDB
OLIVIA WILDE - IMDB
AMY ADAMS - IMDB
ROONEY MARA - IMDB
LINKS ABOUT CHATBOTS AND ARTIFICIAL LIFE
ARTIFICIAL LIFE - WIKIPEDIA
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE - WIKIPEDIA
CHATTERBOTS AND NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING - WIKIPEDIA
ATTITUDES TOWARD INTELLIGENT SERVICE ROBOTS
SIRI - WIKIPEDIA
ELIZA - WIKIPEDIA
DRAGON VOICE RECOGNITION - WIKIPEDIA
HAL - WIKIPEDIA
2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) - WIKIPEDIA
SHORT CIRCUIT (IMDB)(1986) - IMDB
Thursday, August 08, 2013
CORY BOOKER WINS BIG AT THE DEMOCRATIC NJ SENATORIAL DEBATE
Mayor Cory Booker was the big winner of the NJ Senatorial Democratic debate.
He was intelligent, well spoken, dynamic, and did a great job of describing his effectiveness in bringing jobs and cultural support to Newark through his outreach to the public sector.
Congressman Rush Holt, a former teacher and scientist, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the problems that the Federal government needs to address. Unfortunately he is a poor speaker and debater. A former teacher, he should have availed himself of extensive coaching and training in public speaking and debating to present his own positions effectively and attractively.
The role of a Senator includes...
• Direct support, through his office, of the needs of the people of New Jersey
• Support for legislation and policy changes important to NJ and the nation
• The ability to convert those positions into laws
• And the ability to be an active and successful spokesperson for those issues
Cory Booker showed clearly he was the leader in each of those areas. Congressman Rush Holt did not demonstrate experience in supporting his Congressional District, (except, of course, by voting along with other Democrats in a conventional way). He supports many important positions, with sophisticated understanding, but he absolutely did not demonstrate the ability to be a charismatic advocate, much less an effective leader on the national stage.
Congressman Frank Pallone and NJ House Speaker Shiela Oliver were out of their depth, They were ineffective and did not demonstrate the stature and qualities required of a Senator.
Congressman Pallone spent a considerable portion of his time criticizing Mayor Booker for some of Booker’s actions (and non-actions), including his role in a new entrepreneurial venture**. While Booker did vigorously defend his role in travelling outside of Newark to engage and obtain support for Newark, he was silent on some of the other criticisms.
Booker, in turn, was very critical of the support by the Congressmen of the Patriot Act (and the resultant current level of surveillance), and of their support for deregulation of the banks.
Booker is a forceful and attractive candidate. It is easy to see why Governor Christie decided to hold the special election (to fill the remaining term of Senator Frank Lautenberg) for the Senate separate from the election for his own job.
The NJ Primary election is on Tuesday August 13.
FRANK LAUTENBERG - WIKIPEDIA
MORE ABOUT THE CANDIDATES... FROM WIKIPEDIA:
(Note: Cory Booker has been promoting a rally in Hackensack:
Twitter: "Rally with
But, oddly, there is no website to promote this event, just the phone number. Booker's official site is: http://www.corybooker.com/)
** Booker's venture was described in the NYT on Wednesday ("Tech Magnates Bet on Booker And his Future" NYT Aug 7, 2013 p1, col 5). He described it himself in a video on USA Today. The idea behind it (a site called WAYWIRE) is a very good one: it wants to be a way for people to find the videos they are interested in. It wants to be a new way for you to search and find the videos you want among the zillions that have been uploaded. And it wants to connect that to socially valuable objectives. (It should be duly noted that if the founders of the company -- that includes Booker himself --gave Booker a valuable stake for his roles as co-founder, as thinker and advocate, as funds raiser, and for the promotional value of the large presence he has on the public stage, they guessed right on every count.)
WAYWIRE HOME PAGE
BOOKER TALKING ABOUT WAYWIRE ON USA TODAY
NYT ON BOOKER AND WAYWIRE