Thursday, November 20, 2014

under the skin [2013]

scarlett johansson is everywhere.  look at the credits for many blockbusters and you'll see her name.  for this feature she stretched out and added a sci-fi art flick to her resume.  the director of under the skin, jonathan glazer, is unknown to me.  but when i read the reviews for this movie and how strange it is, how visually stunning it is, i had to see for myself.

johansson plays an alien woman sent to earth to drive around scotland in a large van, pick up unattached men, and strip them of their skin?  i don't know why she does that.  she has a helper too.  a dude in motorcycle leathers who helps with the clean up. 

i get the gist that johansson is learning human emotions as she hunts for men.  she is a highly charged sexual being but she cannot have sex. there is a reason for that.  i won't spoil it for you but it is a very sad scene  but not in the way you might expect a sad scene to play out.

but there is a coldness to this film that feels a bit odd.  scotland is portrayed as a fairly wet, cold and dingy place.  the men johansson hunts are a miserable group of sad sacks.  the ending of this pic is rather brutal.  i've read critics call this movie an interrogation of the male gaze.  perhaps.

as for the movie's visual strangeness, well, i don't think so.  i kept thinking as i watched this film that the late great exploitation filmmaker jess franco explored similar themes with a finer, trashier, wit and with a dime-store surrealism of astonishing variety.  i wondered if franco got a star for his movies with similar wattage would his films have been reviewed in publication like rolling stone

perhaps.  doesn't matter anyway.  as for me, i prefer the movies of jess franco over this overwrought and too serious movie. 


At 2:17 PM, Blogger Jim McCrary said...

you do know that they drove around the town filming men that didnt know they were in a movie. just guys. and yes scotland is a wet bleak place but they do have great salmon, insane hash and heavenly scotch to eat smoke and drink. that goes a long way bro.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

i should have had the wrinkle that scotland in this [emphasis on 'this'] movie is portrayed as a bleak, cold place. the cityscape and the land and seascapes as framed by the filmmakers emphasized the cold, clinical hunts of the alien character.

i think scotland is a lovely country -- seriously -- and is on my short list of places to visit before i shuffle off this mortal coil.


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