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Watch: Spike Jonze's Prickly Interview With 'BBC Newsnight' About 'Her'

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by Kevin Jagernauth
February 18, 2014 11:20 AM
31 Comments
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The awards season grind can often find filmmakers and actors spending months answering the same questions over and over about their films, to the point of tedium. And most of the time, everyone involved is able to stoically endure the repetitive and sometimes simplistic questions that get lobbed their way, but everyone has their breaking point. And the usually amiable Spike Jonze found his recently on "BBC Newsnight." 

Speaking with anchor Emily Maitlis, the interview gets off on the wrong foot when she says rather reductively that Jonze's "Her" is about " "falling in love with your software." And then the conversation never quite recovers. 

"Have you seen the movie, Emily?" Jonze asked. "I'm just curious what your reaction was to the movie or what you felt when watching it because the lead-in was all about falling in love with software, which really the movie isn't about. It's more of a love story and a relationship story, but I was just wondering what you felt when watching it." 

The rest of the few minutes finds Jonze trying to prod an honest response out of Maitlis who mostly dodges his questions about her reactions to his film, with Jonze eventually answering a couple more questions before the interview is over. As for Maitlis, she later went on Twitter to share her opinions on "Her" which she couldn't say to Jonze's face (and reveals she sort of misses the entire point of the movie). Anyway, see the interview and tweets below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section. [LAist]

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31 Comments

  • spike | February 19, 2014 2:28 PMReply

    Adam, (your real name is Adam Spiegel), you need some coaching on interview skills. don't be so combative and confrontational. learn how to expertly deal with the stupid one-track minded press without obviously losing your cool.

  • Emma | February 20, 2014 1:31 PM

    I thought he did good. It was obvious he was mad, but he didn't freak out, and his rebuttal seemed more inquisitive than aggressive. It made her look silly. I think that's why she was angry actually. She came across as empty and when asked about her emotions and this likely embarrassed her, which is a shame, but it would've taken 2 seconds to say how the movie made her feel. I loved the movie, it was much more than someone falling in love with their OS for sure.

  • Daniel Delago | February 19, 2014 1:33 PMReply

    She didn't get the film at all... Possibly due to the fact that she didn't see it prior to her Spike Jonze interview. How can you ask intuitive questions about the film to the director/screenwriter without experiencing the work? How utterly unprofessional of her as a journalist.

  • Jaimie | February 21, 2014 2:21 AM

    Completely agree. Incredibly unprofessional journalist, this Emily.

  • JamieR | February 19, 2014 1:10 PMReply

    Is a reader of these comments really to believe that there are twenty flesh and blood people -- even Americans! -- so celebrity-absorbed that they're outraged on behalf Mr. "Jonze" and simply must rush forward to proclaim their solidarity with a multi-millionaire Hollywood director who made a terrible movie but must nonetheless be kowtowed to as the Second Coming?

    Or is it the ad agency at work?

  • Oliver | February 19, 2014 1:50 PM

    Jamier, as far as I'm concerned, Jonze's first film 'Being John Malkovitch', 15 years ago, remains by far his best. I have no great desire to see 'Her', and carry no torch for Jonze.

    As a Brit and a liberal, what *does* concern me is the decline of arts coverage on our taxpayer-funded TV, the decline of Newsnight as a current affairs programme, and the decline of liberalism into opinionated trivialities of the easily-offended.

  • Marley82 | February 19, 2014 12:39 PMReply

    I don't agree with Emily at on her quote " Sad, male fetish fantasy of disembodied female who does his bidding"

    After viewing Her, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was plagued with questions about technology, and how reliant we have become on it. I'm a tech junkie myself, and in the movie the evolution of technology as a companion, not just for a man, but for women as well i.e. Amy Adams character relationship with her OS. But that's not the only theme one can draw from the movie, human connection is another, and whether or not its sufficient enough for happiness. However, my favorite theme and question I guess that still effervescent for me is the end when Samantha breaks up with Theodore. The idea of technology evolving pass human understanding is so thought provoking. This movie makes you think about so many underlining ideas, and I myself like that in a great movie.

  • Oliver | February 19, 2014 6:03 AMReply

    BBC2 used to have halfway-decent arts coverage in the form of The Late Show / Late Review, but alas those days are long gone.

    And 'Newsnight' has *seriously* gone downhill since it got taken over by that idiot journalist who was in charge of the 'Letters to Clark County, Ohio' debacle in 2004 (Google it).

  • Javier | February 19, 2014 1:38 AMReply

    I didn't find this interview too prickly on either side, she just ran away with the ideas that had little to no bearing on the film. He did his best talking to someone who clearly had no idea what the film was about. I've seen worse interviews where the host blatantly disrespects the guest, in this case it's just ignorance.

  • jawsnnn | February 18, 2014 8:22 PMReply

    You can easily determine the level of engagement that people have had with art as a medium by gauging their reactions to this film. One of my friends - after watching it - declared that he was wondering when such a thing would happen in reality, and that would indeed be a sad day for humanity. Then I asked him, what if this was a movie about a long distance relationship instead? How much of it would change? The answer is - almost no change at all.
    This is not a movie about fetishes, or computers or falling in love with software. It is about falling in love with someone who is not there physically. Sad that people watch it with prejudiced minds and miss the point altogether.

  • Elle | May 13, 2014 1:58 PM

    THANK YOU.

  • Jaimie | February 21, 2014 2:23 AM

    Right on Jawsnnn. Agreed.

  • gerard kennelly | February 19, 2014 12:35 AM

    Emily Maitlis is a feminist aka argumentative cu**

    During 2002, it emerged that Maitlis had been stalked throughout the preceding six years by a former university friend. The 32-year-old male student pursued Maitlis with correspondence, and would appear at her place of work. The stalker concerned admitted harassing Maitlis and was sentenced to four months' imprisonment.
    In March 2007, David Decoteau, a 45-year-old convicted rapist, was sentenced to four life sentences whilst on probation, following another assault that had remained unsolved since 1996. During the trial, it was revealed that Decoteau had an "unhealthy fixation" with Maitlis, and although not shown to have engaged in actual stalking, it was noted that he possessed photographs of Maitlis on the wall of his probation hostel room and had previously written to her from prison. He was also described as being "fascinated" with TV newsreaders Fiona Bruce and Nina Hossain, though he was not found to have made any attempt to stalk them either

  • a | February 18, 2014 6:12 PMReply

    I saw this and wondered if it would pick up online! I don't think anyone between the ages 10-35 watches Newsnight.

    She interviews political figures mostly; Hollywood is kind of secondary to the programme. I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't actually watch her screener, or pay that much attention to it. It's a shame she couldn't come up with a more informed response to the film, but it's understandable (does Spike really expect every talking head to like or want to engage with his work? Presenters are a delivery system to viewers, who are the main concern in promotion.)

    Respect to Spike for wanting to fight for his message, though. Reclaim the narrative. Just don't pick fights with the media when you do it.

  • Sam Camilleri | February 18, 2014 5:29 PMReply

    Well, it kind of is true. Someone does fall in love with a Machine. So i don't know what the debate was about. Prick. The smallest of things these days.... Like that Samuel L Jackson superbowl nonsense. Just a mistake. People just need to get over things. But these people don't live in the real world so i doubt they'd understand. Probably why so few understand Jonze.

  • Ed | February 18, 2014 2:41 PMReply

    Just wanted to point out that the idea to shoot a futuristic film in real locations, displaced from the actual setting of the story, originated with MIchael Winterbottom in Code 46

  • CWH91 | February 19, 2014 12:47 AM

    Godard's Alphaville?

  • md | February 18, 2014 2:39 PMReply

    maybe the theme of loneliness is just too hard to spin into catchy talk show babble people seem to crave so much.

  • Andrew | February 18, 2014 2:10 PMReply

    It's pretty clear from this whole deal that people just don't understand Jonze.

    I went to his Q&A at TIFF this past year hosted by Kelly Reichardt and he was more interested steering the conversation toward her reactions to film and her work than his own. He's always been that kind of presence in interviews. I think it's a sense of modesty, that he doesn't really want to talk about himself or his films, but would rather hear another person's opinions on it or have them talk about their own work.

    He's just a different breed, and that's why I've always liked him.

  • Proud_Brit | February 18, 2014 12:49 PMReply

    This is hilarious. Mr. Jonze demands of his interviewer that she confess she was "moved" by his movie -- otherwise, in his mind, she couldn't have understood it and couldn't possibly have anything useful to say about it.

    Not content with receiving praise far beyond Her's desserts (it's really about relationships, not software!; how very original!), he can't endure even one dissenting voice.

    Whatever ever happened to self-loathing? Did it get thrown out with the skateboard?

  • usa taste own medicine | February 19, 2014 12:37 AM

    Proud_Brit

    This is hilarious. Americans demand of the world that they agree they were "attacked"

  • Pritesh | February 18, 2014 12:24 PMReply

    Oh my. I'm embarrassed to be British. FFS, Emily, have some courage/decency/anima and engage in conversation with the man! Emily comes across as unintelligent, rude, and ugly.

  • bullied meg ryan | February 19, 2014 12:38 AM

    PTITESH

    emily is an argumentative cu** in the style of michael parkinson

  • Tom | February 18, 2014 12:13 PMReply

    In her tweets, first she makes out she has seen it - then two minutes later says in another that she wouldn't want to see it ?

  • star jonestown | February 18, 2014 1:51 PM

    She watched a DVD screener, most likely. That is the norm. She says "Would I go and see it?"... Meaning, "Would I pay for this if it weren't given to me for work...?"

    I doubt that she watched the whole film. I think that she was put off by the concept, and that she is a politically-correct prig who sees sexism in all things.

  • j | February 18, 2014 12:12 PMReply

    Man, Jonze has a really cool jacket.

  • CB | February 18, 2014 12:53 PM

    True!

  • jz | February 18, 2014 12:03 PMReply

    "Sad, male fetish fantasy of disembodied female who does his bidding."

    Wow. Couldn't be more wrong.

  • ger heard ken L E | February 19, 2014 12:40 AM

    british aka likes talking down to people
    feminist aka argumentative cu** that wants to see sexism every where

  • sam | February 18, 2014 1:42 PM

    it's an opinion. (if she actually saw the film.) it might be wrong for you, how you saw it, but an opinion, a point-of-view, on a film, can't be called wrong.

  • BEF | February 18, 2014 12:10 PM

    Maitlis' social media after interview posts is far more passive aggressive and condescending than Jonze's interview ... if she felt that "Her" was a disembodied fantasy, her approach of not giving an opinion and then using social media to critique the film is disembodied from providing a discussion.

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