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Under the Skin.

under_the_skinIf Steven Spielberg (circa ‘Closer Encounters’) had made a science fiction film with Stanley Kubrick, and then David Lynch did a remake of it … that would be for me the proper way of describing the tone, feeling and atmosphere of this film. I only heard about ‘Under the Skin’, Jonathan Glazer’s first film since 2004’s ‘Birth’, a few months ago, although I guess I and all of us heard about it indirectly, when that now famous meme of Scarlett Johansson falling down flat on her face went viral on social media (and other mock-ups of her fall photo-shopped into humorous other locales). That moment, in reality a photograph taken on set during the shooting of one of the films scenes, is a metaphor of sorts for the film’s message, with the public’s over-eagerness to trash and belittle someone for simply having a human moment that all us have either experienced, or fear happening. The plot is simple: Ms Johansson plays an alien from some other world who lures men with her **EVIL SEXUAL ALLURE** to their very surreal dream-like new age deaths (like a horror version of an Andrea Vollenweider music video) – seemingly as victims used by her species for food or fuel. And that’s it really! By the film’s conclusion, her character begins to shed her skin (not literally, well, sort of not), sensing and feeling humanity creeping in, from basic human experiences to the raw power of compassion. But as soon as she does, and like Johansson’s own aforementioned experience (or any celebrity’s, or any other human being’s) she becomes vulnerable, is taken advantage of, and is torn down for it. It’s a simple premise, but incredibly engaging throughout its nearly two hour running time. The film is beautifully shot with gorgeous cinematography of Scotland from the city to the country, and with its creepy and effective score this stands as a completely different and mesmerizing experience compared to what you get at most of today’s “independent” cinemas.  As for Johansson, I don’t believe her performance is as incredible as so many critics are saying. I think she’s a good actress, and even though people point to the crap films she’s done of late to say she isn’t, I am thankful she does those as it allows her to then take on roles in much smaller films like this where she can prove the naysayers wrong. ‘Under the Skin’ is a meditative film, that even when it’s at it’s most bizarre and unsettling, is also strangely calming. It’s rare to see a movie that is so cold – so off-putting on so many levels – yet still manages to cast you into its spell – mirroring the actions of Johansson’s character. Therein lies part of the film’s brilliance. It’s not for everyone, but its a gorgeous sci-fi movie like one you’re likely only to experience a few times in your life. That is why we go to the cinema, to be taken to places you’ve never seen or felt before, and that makes ‘Under the Skin’ a complete winner.

love ALLways,

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