The Radical, Reassuring Message of “Her”

Key to any discussion about science-fiction movies, including Spike Jonze’s new film Her, is the concept of “singularity,” the predicted moment when human beings will create true artificial intelligence. Writers like Vernon Vinge and Ray Kurzweil have predicted when this moment will occur (Vinge says 2030, while Kurzweil thinks it will be closer to 2045),…

At War with “The Master”

Five weeks and two repeat viewings later, I am still having new thoughts about The Master. Upon its initial release, many critics had trouble grasping its meaning. Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post called it “confounding.” Roger Ebert at least put it eloquently: “When I reach for it, my hand closes on air.” Many other…

Paul Thomas Anderson is a “Master” of History

“The Master” opens on a shot of the marbled blue-white wake of a battleship, and director Paul Thomas Anderson returns to that image several times throughout the film. Soon, it becomes clear why; the image embodies the film’s subject, the muddled and mysterious history that we leave behind us, specifically the history of one sailor…