Geoff Cox’s DVDs: Her, As I Lay Dying, Knocked For Six

Joaquin Phoenix in Her
Joaquin Phoenix in Her

For lovers of oddball films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, look no further than sci-fi drama HER (15: Entertainment In Video).

Funny, touching and thought-provoking, this terrific picture from writer/director Spike Jonze inhabits pretty much the same territory.

Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore Twombly, a morose and lonely man in the midst of a divorce.

In a near-future world of holographic video games and voice-activated everything, he writes personal letters for repressed clients.

But his life is turned upside down when he downloads a cutting-edge piece of operational computer software, the artificially intelligent OS1.

As it’s intuitive, smart and sexily voiced by Scarlett Johannson, it’s little wonder that Theodore is soon head over heels in love with “her”.

But can a disembodied voice truly compete in a world of physical attraction and is a one-to-one relationship even possible in cyberspace?

Phoenix is no stranger to offbeat movies and Jonze again demonstrates his talent for mature and magical film-making.

> Unsurprisingly long-declared unfilmable, William Faulkner’s experimental novel AS I LAY DYING (15: Lionsgate) is a gruelling 1920s-set yarn of a farmer’s horse-and-cart journey across Mississippi to bury his dead wife in her home town, accompanied by their five children.

It takes the form of a series of 59 monologues, so transferring it to the screen was a daunting prospect.

James Franco, who both directs and stars in his own adaptation, was up for the challenge and makes as good a job of it as can realistically be hoped for.

It’s not an emotionally satisfying film as the book simply doesn’t lend itself to that, but it’s often mesmerising.

Franco uses split screen, voiceover and some irritating actorly mumbling to reflect the fractured nature of the novel, while preserving the sense of emotional isolation that the characters endure.

The acting is top notch with Tim Blake Nelson standing out as toothless, stubborn patriarch Anse. Ironically it’s only Franco himself as Darl, the unstable brother, who’s a little disappointing, perhaps bec ause he spread himself a tad too thin.

> KNOCKED FOR SIX (15: Metrodome), an Australian comedy about cricket, follows a roistering bunch of middle-aged guys in an amateur Melbourne club on tour in India.

Club president Teddy realises his two best players, Ricky and Stav, are now more interested in their families than the game.

Faced with much better Indian teams and with his own bunch considering the trip a mere holiday, how can he knock them into shape?

The film is based on director Boyd Hicklin’s 2005 documentary Save Your Legs and the script is not particularly new.

Despite the threadbare story, the diarrhoea and vomit jokes, thrown in due to Teddy’s inability to deal with Indian food, and the slightly desperate Bollywood dance number at the end, there’s a decent feeling of fun and camaraderies about the film that makes it amiable enough in a goofy sort of way.

However, you probably have to be very into cricket, and be of an indulgent disposition, to really like it.