Spike Jonze, a longtime friend and collaborator of VICE, has created an intimate investigation into our ties to tech in his newest film, Her, which just received five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The film focuses on love, loss, and how artificial intelligence alters our perceptions of those abstract ideas—as well as how our conceptualization of a “relationship” is always changing.
Inspired by Her's themes of connection and meaningful communication in the internet age, The Creators Project asked filmmaker Lance Bangs (who also directed this profile of Spike) to interview a range of creative folks, including LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, actress Olivia Wilde (who appears in Her), and Marc Maron, about how technology has shaped their love lives.
The Wolves of Hollywood, by James Franco
This is, more or less, how I imagined the genesis of The Wolf of Wall Street went down:
Marty and Leo wanted to work together again, of course; they have a great track record stretching back to Gangs of New York. When their relationship began it was mutually beneficial but they were coming from different directions: they were both talents, but at the time Scorsese was the critically overlooked doyen of crime films and scholar of cinema history, while Leo was the former critical darling whose entire identity was eclipsed by his Beatle-sized, world-dominating fame. Scorsese could get his decades old dream project made and Leo could work with his directing hero. Gangs was not the best of their outings, but at least it brought them together, and their films got better, culminating in the long due triumph of The Departed. By the time the duo got to Wolf I’m sure they were as in synch as the ATL Twins as far as how they worked and the kind of material they wanted to explore.
So, while Gangs was not their best outing, it led to The Departed winning several Academy Awards, including Best Director. (An aside: Did the .44 magnum/pussy cameo in Taxi Driver keep him from getting the Oscar until he was 64?) And I’m positive that with this long-anticipated repairing, they got their money. A superhero-sized budget, because they’re Leo and Marty, and their films do well both financially and critically, so if you’re a dude with some money to burn from stocks or oil or computers or wherever you’ve made your pile, why wouldn’t you want to get a piece of that game? So, they have the dough and they can do anything they damn well please because the money is independent and fuck it, they’re Leo and Marty and who the hell is going to tell them, “no?” This combo shits out Golden Globes like they’re going out of style (maybe they are? Heh heh) and people go to their dark, masculine dramas in the same numbers that they go to see dudes in tights with big Ss and bats on them. If they want to show Leo doing cocaine bullets out of a faceless girl’s ass, fuck it; if they want a ten minute Quaalude sequence (the best part of the film, funny as hell!), fuck it; and if they want their scumbag protagonists to go largely unpunished… FUCK IT, THAT’S LIFE.
From Homelessness to the Oscar Stage
Until fairly recently, 19-year-old Inocente Izucar had pretty much the shittiest childhood imaginable. An illegal immigrant, Inocente ended up homeless at a young age after her father was deported back to Mexico. She spent the majority of her childhood living on the streets and in shelters with her mother and three younger brothers. At one point, things got so bad that Inocente’s mother led her by the hand to a bridge where she planned to have them both jump off together, before being talked out of it by her daughter.
Her luck changed a few years ago when Academy Award-nominated producing couple Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine decided to make a documentary about her and her art (which you can watch the trailer for above). On Sunday, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, and Inocente was there to collect the award. Her appearance was a refreshing change from the parade of the rich and famous men who make up the majority of the ceremony, so I got in touch with Inocente, Sean, and Andrea to talk with them about the experience.
VICE: First I just wanna say congrats on the Oscar win.
Inocente Izucar: Thank you.
How did you guys meet Inocente?
Andrea Nix Fine: We looked for her for months and months. She was our needle in a haystack. Basically, we really wanted to make a film about a homeless kid, because we came across the statistic that one in 45 kids in the US experiences homelessness. It’s something we felt nobody really knew about and nobody was paying attention to, so we were very interested in doing a film where we found somebody going through that experience, and we were particularly interested in finding an artist because I felt that would be a wonderful way to meet somebody and experience her dreams. So we just started calling all over the country and eventually we ended up talking to a San Diego-based group called A Reason to Survive that helps kids who face adversity get into art, and they introduced us to Inocente.
And, Inocente, what was your situation like when you met the Fines, for people who haven’t seen the film?
Inocente: I was 15, and I’d been homeless for like, nine years.
Would you mind describing the events that led up to your becoming homeless?
Inocente: Well, my dad basically kidnapped me and my three brothers and brought us up to the US from Mexico. He told my mom he would come get her later, but he never did, so my mom crossed the border by herself to come find us. When she got here, he was really abusive. And one day it was really bad, so we called the cops. Here in the US domestic violence isn’t tolerated, so when the cops came, he was deported. The place we were living was his sister’s house, and because it was his side of the family, we ended up in the shelter.
How Many Ways Did the Oscars Offend Everyone?
Ah, the Academy Awards! The four-hour event when the actresses, actors, directors, and producers who create the most popular artistic medium in the world are finally given their due. It’s a time for everyone to gather around their television sets and bask in a night of song, dance, jokes, emotion, and a celebration of films. Haha, just kidding! Like all major events where anyone talks for more than half an hour, it was a chance for people to get extremely angry about what others were saying and doing. Here is an incomplete list of the events that happened during the Oscars that people took offense to. (Some of these are serious things that you should get upset about and some are just some bullshit that you shouldn’t even think about; I’ll trust you to decided which are which.)
The mistreatment of artists who worked on Life of Pi, which won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Seth MacFarlane doing a song and dance devoted to movies where actresses showed their boobs.
Seth MacFarlane, just sort of in general.
The underlying systemic sexism that Seth MacFarlane’s jokes represent.
Robin Roberts not having hair because she has a rare blood disorder.
Lena Dunham (I don’t know if Lena Dunham was even at the Oscars, but it’s a safe bet that someone, somewhere, is always getting offended by Lena Dunham, and someone else is offended that that person is offended.)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
I forgot this movie came out this year. What a long, miserable year it was. Everyone I know seems to be beaten down—by jobs, relationships, the city. Once youthful spirits, we are now crawling into the grey husk of old age. Maybe we should visit the real-life equivalent of the Bathtub, wherever that is, get drunk with swamp people, and make stuff with our hands. That would save us.
And THAT is exactly the sort of bullshit attitude this movie preys on. Cities are so much better than swamps, and actual swamp people are not nice. If you’re looking to get away, and you live in New York, take the A train to the Aqueduct Race Track and Resorts World Casino and frolic with the aurochs (the old drunks) and packs of Chinese people. It’s a great time!