Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spike Jonze, Video Game Character

Spike Jonze, Video Game Character

The director Spike Jonze.Valerie Macon/Getty ImagesThe director Spike Jonze.
Updated, 12:25 p.m. | In some ways, the Spike Jonze romance “Her” is a different beast for the inventive director-writer-prankster – it’s the first feature he wrote on his own – and in some ways it’s a lot like his other films (“Where the Wild Things Are,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation”). All take a long time in the editing room, up to a year. They’re naturalistic in performance, but not heavily improvised – though the story can sometimes change after they finish filming.
“We write all the time in editing,” Mr. Jonze said, at a recent lunch celebrating the film. “All our movies, we write up until the day we lock picture. We don’t script, shoot, edit; it’s all one continual exploration of the idea. The movie never changes what it’s about, it’s always the same thing, but how to get there can change. That’s what makes our editing so long.”
Mr. Jonze is also adept at creating a different visual language for his films. His vision of the future (created with the production designer K.K. Barrett, who’s worked on all his movies) — stands out from other cinematic versions. His camera angles, too, serve the story, about a forlorn writer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), who falls for his computer operating system, named Samantha.
Though she’s voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Samantha never appears on screen, which means that Mr. Phoenix often had to fill the frame by himself. There was a juxtaposition, Mr. Jonze said, of wide shots of the expansive, digitally tweaked landscape, and tight shots of Theodore, which helped underscore his loneliness.
“The close-up was obviously really important,” Mr. Jonze said. “We did a shot that was right over the corner of his eye, and that was a really nice intimate shot that to me it felt like I was in his head.”
Mr. Jonze admitted that having sole authorship of the film, which has garnered major kudos from critics groups, was not always easy. “When we needed to keep rewriting, I had to go and do that, that’s a lot – not having somebody to lean on and to rely on and to collaborate with,” he said. But he did have an alter ego, of sorts, at work in the film: a deliciously foul-mouthed animated video game character called Alien Child, which he voiced.
“I kind of thought at some point maybe I’d cast a real little kid for it, and then I temped in and it just stuck,” he said.
Did he ever, we wanted to know, still think in that voice?
“I’m cussing you out right now,” he joked.

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