Tuesday, June 10, 2014
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES & UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME: FILE #0033: UNDER THE SKIN (2014)
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer
Written By: Walter Campbell & Jonathan Glazer
Based on the Novel by: Michael Faber
Cinematography By: Daniel Landin
Editor: Paul Watts
Music By: Mica Levi Cast: Scarlett Johansson
A mysterious seductress preys upon the population of Scotland.
Yes, It made my Hall of fame list immediately which will be clear throughout.I have to say i have never had a film expeirence quite like this in a theater ever... In a good way
I hope this review sounds more like I am defending this film rather than like I am against it.
To describe this film In Two words challenging and experimental. One is he cause the other because.
Strangely the best way to go into the film is blind and let the film wash over you. Though no matter how much information you have will really prepare you for the film.
Let's get it out of the way. Yes, Scarlett johansson is mode in this film. Now of course I am a great admirer of seeing Scarlett johansson nude. After years of slight teasing. At least here it is used in good taste and is necessary for the film and character. It is used more in an artful way rather than as exploitive and just as a cheap trick. The casting of her in the role is perfect as she is one of the silver screens most beautiful women. She is cast ringer physical strength as a woman who is desirable and out to seduce men. For her own reasons.
She reportedly beat out Gemma Arterton, Eva Green, Megan Fox, January Jones, Abbie Cornish, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Blake Livlely and Jessica Biel who were all considered for the lead role
The films premise makes sense as to how she gets her prey. That if a beautiful woman paid attention to you and seduced and lured you to a location even if it looked dangerous and dodgy. To make love, most men would have taken the bait. It might have been interesting to see her seduce a woman. It works better as a female in the role. As if I had been a male the film would seem more cruel and misogynistic and seem more like a serial killer or slasher film aka HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. Only more extraterrestrial. That gives the film a more realistic angle of what probably would happen in a real life scenerio the films situation. It wouldn't be too different in a certain reality
Most of the actual men she picks up are non-actors picked up off the street and makes the story deeper as it isn't really written and open as anything can happen and anything can be said. It also layers Johansson's performance as she is playing without a safety net.
The men lured into the van by Scarlett Johansson 's character were not actors. Jonathan Glazer had hidden cameras installed in the van and only informed the men afterwards that they were in a movie. The the story strays vastly from the book.
Also as the story goes along as we never get a backstory on her character. While we Wonder about her, we are forced to take her at face value while exploring the world with her. As others seem like aliens to her. Soon we feel the same way, as she is the only familiar and grounding that we have through all of this. Johansson gives a brave performance that is more naturalistic and still uses her usual skill of giving a quizzical wondering look and still convey an assured presence while being open to others. Seeming like she is more in control and knows more then she actually does. Letting others fill in the holes for her. Just as the film tries not to do for us. She creates a Character here more desirable and physical. Where as in the film HER she creates a Desirable character only through voice
Jonathan Glazer makes a return to feature film making ten years after BIRTH. In all thy time he has been working on this film writing and developing the technology used. To create one of a kind visuals and make you feel like you are an accomplice.
You can take apart any scene and find questions and meaning. Take for Instance the beach scene what does it reveal and at about her character, but the thought of all these questions and subjects being revised from what seems like such a simple premise. Or the scene of her caravan being vandalized hay is a incident that goes nowhere.
The film can be easily scary in a moments notice.
Novelist and screenwriter Alexander Stuart (The War Zone) wrote the first three drafts of the script. The film is much different from the book in most ways.
The movie took nearly 10 years to be made and one of the early drafts of the scripts included a Scottish married couple, who were reveled to be aliens in disguise. Brad Pitt was then cast as one part of the couple.
Watching the film you feel every minute half of the entertainment of watching this film Is experiencing it especially with an audience. As they are part of the entertainment as the film plays so differently then their pre-conceived notions. so much so they don't know how to react. So it made me wonder if it was torture or as they might not have been as used to this type of film. Are they trying to put it together like a puzzle so that I makes some kind of sense? Or shall they just take it how it comes and see where it takes them? That is how I tried to take it. Immediately after watching the film I watched another film hat I had previously seen in the theater and saw how conveniently that film was put together and played so easily to the audience instant gratification and entertainment but with little thought.
This film seems to take glee in making the audience uncomfortable. I admired it as throughout the film it was so quiet in y full theater and I could hear everything including the audience groans and shuffling in their seats during some scenes. The film constantly makes you feel off center yet so strange that t also makes you open to anything that may come.
In the film there is action but half the time nothing truly happens. Except watching Johansson experience the world and a few exchanges she has with random people. This is of course on purpose to more challenge as confuse the audience. Also when action does happen it is so quick ad quizzical that it demands our attention throughout and constant concentration. I was surprised there were no walkouts during my screening.
The film feels like it was an original pursuit of vision. Though certain scenes feel like the work of different know. Directors or at least seem influenced by them. Vincent Gallo (THE BROWN BUNNY) in some scenes and Terrence Malik (DAYS OF HEAVEN) in others. With a nod here and there to Nicholas Roeg and Stanley Kubrick even down to the ending which like the rest of the film felt indebted to THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. Though the film is entirely it's own. Has it's own identity.
With such rich and abstract visuals. That end up helping to tell the story rather then the dialogue. You can tell that director Jonathan Glazer started out in music videos. The visuals are strong and always have something interesting in them even when we are in a mundane setting. He creates a cinematic visual language and communication. That is shocking especially as nothing is truly explained throughout the film. There is barely any dialogue. It does make the film more Of an experience rather than a tale that is told it just being a witness to. While you try to make sense and figure the story out. Making you think actually engaging you rather then leading you. It feels like it is trying to communicate something. Maybe even say something. Though seems to be in another language or it's not coming across.
It is also what impresses me about the film. Is that it makes no compromises it has a singular vision. No matter how many times the director could have changed courses enormous and made the film more conventional and convenient. He stayed true to his vision. While knowing how to set a mood and make innocent moments thrilling.
The power is also in the composition of his shots. Knowing what he wants to say and communicate.
What I enjoyed is that at first each seduction seems like it will be routine. Then you realize that each seduction focuses on a different aspect of the aftermath and makes each one feel new.
As there aren't way too many answers. So the film is open to interpretation and whatever you come up with it's not wrong. It's a very cold film to a degree. The film makes a transition in the second half becomes more domestics the visuals become sharper that becomes more about humanity and the individual.
I can reveal the ending (I won't) and still wouldn't spoil anything about the movie. It's something you need to see and experience yourself. Like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY more about what you get out of it. This is certainly a polarizing film. I believe whatever you find in it yourself is the correct answer. From it's theme and the uneasiness it constantly tries to provoke. Making it try hard not to explain anything especially towards the end where some plot holes of common sense appear, but if you have traveled with the film this far. Why start having continuity problems and leaps of logic now.
With this film Jonathan Glazer comes closest to being a predecessor of Stanley Kubrick. Just for precise expression of idiom and an abstract moral compass with lush surreal visuals that stay within a certain reality and make an impression and at times a statement. While staying open to interpretation. you don't know exactly how to react to what you are seeing and experiencing.
Looking at it's common beauty. Yet making it seem otherworldly. It moves Scotland up on the list of places I want to visit.
For all of my appreciation for the film. I have to say I liked it more then I loved it.
As with most sci-fi tales beneath the imagination and technology they are tales about humanity to a degree. It's what makes the tales universal and feel personal as they are relatable. That is the trait that makes the best of these either noteworthy or out and out memorable.
Joins the ranks of ENTER THE VOID, A FIELD IN ENGLAND, ONLY GOD FORGIVES where it's an experience more then just a film any you have to decide was it good and meaningful to you or bad and overindulgent.
Not for the typical moviegoer and is made more for personal interpretation, that connects with you in some way and to be thought about during and after making it rather meaningful. Rather then just easily written off as pretentious.
This is a film where there are certainly many conversations to be had about it.
It's a rare film that can't be dismissed as cut and dry. That haunts your thoughts and memories days and even weeks after.