Spike Jonze Wants To Know If This Interviewer Was Moved By HER

A contentious interview actually becomes great.

The nature of movie promotion means we rarely see contentious interviews. Most interviews - and I'm pointing the finger back here at myself - are conducted in a fairly friendly manner, and are usually little more than an advertisement for the movie that's opening. Sometimes there are attempts to get scoops, sometimes there are moments where ideas get discussed, but rarely are modern interviews for new movies interesting or even particularly good. You'll notice we rarely do them here, and that's on purpose. 

Some great interviews come when the interviewer and the subject share a bond, but some come when they're at loggerheads. This BBC Newsnight interview with Spike Jonze about Her is just such an interview. The interviewer opens by saying the movie is about falling in love with your software, which Spike Jonze visibly dislikes, and so he begins to grill her about whether she engaged with the film emotionally. She doesn't quite answer back, but some of her questions - including wondering if this is just a movie about a man falling for his assistant - let you know where she's coming from. But here's the thing; her questions make Jonze answer in a forceful way that I think eloquently gets to the heart of what makes Her work. 

I've seen people linking to this interview because they like how Spike Jonze gives the interviewer a hard time, but I like the way he's forced to really engage. I have heard complaints similar to the ones that she's making - that Her is a male power fantasy - and while I don't agree with them (it seems hard to understand how a person could watch the movie and come to that conclusion), I enjoy hearing them hashed out a bit. I actually wish this interview was longer and got even more heated. I'd be really excited to see an interview series where the interviewer grills a filmmaker over problems they find in their films.