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Under The Skin - quick review (1 Viewer)

Josh Steinberg

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Out now in limited release, director Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin" is unlike anything that's currently out there.

I've read a lot of comparisons to "2001: A Space Odyssey" (which happens to be my favorite movie), and while I think it overstates it to say that they have a lot in common, there were some similarities. In particular, the last act of "2001" shows us a completely alien world, and shows us one man walking around in what very well may be an alien zoo. "Under The Skin" flips this over by giving us a look at our world through alien eyes, in a way that's often as disorienting to the senses as "2001" was. So in that sense, there's a similarity. I think the film also has some of the editing rhythms of "Upstream Color" and the soundscape of a David Lynch movie.

Though based on a book (which I haven't actually read), the movie strips most of the narrative from the story, presenting a series of encounters Scarlett Johansson (as unnamed an alien creature) has with random men in Scotland. As these encounters continue, we can start to figure out (more or less) why Scarlett is here and what she's trying to do.

This is a movie that is told mostly in images and sounds, with very little dialogue (and even less that actually matters). It seems designed to frustrate almost anyone who comes to see it based on what it is on the face of it -- sci-fi fans may find it lacking in sci-fi, horror fans probably won't be scared, and people just looking to see Ms. Johansson naked probably won't be won't enjoy sitting through everything else. But if you're up for something a little bit different, something that does creep under your senses and lets you look at humanity from an otherworldly perspective, this may be your movie. It's also a hard movie to discuss with people who haven't seen it -- it's one of those where I could describe every single thing that happens, but I still don't think it would spoil anything. It's one of those movies that's more about the experience of watching it than conveying a narrative idea - the story is secondary to the feeling.

I'd like to see it again.
 

Yavin

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I agree with your review 100%, Josh.

Here's a bit from my take on the film:
At first glance, it would seem that Under the Skin shares a kinship with the 1995 film Species. Not only do the two films embrace the common theme of female sexual empowerment, they both revolve around a female character who turns the tables on her male counterparts. But there's much more lurking beneath the surface of Johansson's character, for her endgame isn't mere sexual gratification, nor is she driven by a desire to copulate. Johansson's performance is inward-facing to the nth degree, but at the same time it's altogether absorbing and mesmerizing to watch.
4 out of 5. Under the Skin may exhibit all the outward trappings of sci-fi fare, but in truth it escapes classification. Director Jonathan Glazer's examination of themes of humanity and sexuality — filtered through the gaze of an alien pretender who is ultimately seduced and betrayed by the nature of her prey — is part glossy science fiction parable, part introspective character study. It's also deceptively minimalistic and strangely voyeuristic — and thanks to Scarlett Johansson's entrancing performance, it will get under your skin like no other film ever has or ever will.

My full review can be found here.
 

Bob Cashill

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What? It had to have played longer than that in Chicago; it's still playing here in Brooklyn after a month or so.
 

Patrick Sun

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It's still playing in a mid-town theater in Atlanta, but I won't be able to check it out this weekend. Probably won't see it in a theater before it leaves town.
 

schan1269

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Bob Cashill said:
What? It had to have played longer than that in Chicago; it's still playing here in Brooklyn after a month or so.
I'll rephrase(and haven't checked), the area I typically go, isn't showing it.I'm 65 miles from DT. 80 from O'Hare (depending which way I go). Suburbs, where this might be showing, are 100+ miles...
 

Wayne_j

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I saw this yesterday, I'd say it was a throwback to experimental film making of the late 60's and early 70's, Such as with THX 1138.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Yavin said:
I agree with your review 100%, Josh.
Thanks Ben! I enjoyed reading yours as well, I think you're spot on.

In the middle of the book now -- enjoying a different take on the same concept.
 

SamT

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Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Just watched this thing. I'm not good with words so I'm going to go simple. This movie was total crap, not a little, total! I did enjoy one infamous jumpy scene but there is nothing interesting here.

I am not talking about the lack of plot or anything. I do enjoy different movies with no apparent narrative like some of Terrence Malick's works and others but this movie is not beautiful to look at and by beautiful I don't mean we should see flowers and sunny landscape. The production just looks like a cheap ugly video shot by an amateur.

Anyway hated it 100%!
 

schan1269

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SamT said:
Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Just watched this thing. I'm not good with words so I'm going to go simple. This movie was total crap, not a little, total! I did enjoy one infamous jumpy scene but there is nothing interesting here.I am not talking about the lack of plot or anything. I do enjoy different movies with no apparent narrative like some of Terrence Malick's works and others but this movie is not beautiful to look at and by beautiful I don't mean we should see flowers and sunny landscape. The production just looks like a cheap ugly video shot by an amateur.Anyway hated it 100%!
Stay away from Beyond the Black Rainbow and Post Tenebras Lux.Don't even think about Quiet Days in Clichy.
 

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