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View Full Version : Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)



Ezee E
09-01-2013, 03:47 PM
IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441395/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)

Henry Gale
09-11-2013, 12:59 AM
Hmmm, this is a lot to process. Bottom line, overall, I really did like it. A lot more works than what doesn't, but so much of it as an experience stems from Glazer deliberately and so grimly, completely constructing and tonally tempering it by the uneasy experiences and warped worldview of its protagonist, which often makes it a tad hard to appreciate in the moment. This is all especially true to it because it's main character's worldview is barely of this world.

But once it ended, it began to permeate and reshape in my mind in a very strong and rare way. I barely remember movies linearly as is, but the effect Under the Skin had on me once it was complete is something worth considering and as a result absolutely revisiting. I like it the more I think about it, and I'm thinking about it quite a bit right now.

And, maybe most of all, after the film, the Q&A and trying to find my way out of the Elgin theatre's maze-like downstairs, as I walked outside happened to bump into and then talk with Glazer himself behind the theatre and managed to briefly, enthusiastically sort out and realize a lot of my favourite things about it and general thematic thoughts with him that weren't really brought up in the Q&A. That doesn't mean I also didn't find a way to gush about how much I genuinely admire him and the film, especially since it'd been so long since he'd made a feature, but it was a really unique thing to have solidify feelings about a film. Also, it was really funny to me how personable and affable a guy he was after having just seen a film so relentlessly (but rightfully) cold and hard to probe emotionally.

And yet, I'd say both experiences are worth holding in pretty high regard. A perfect dichotomy, just like the experience of the Glazer's film itself.

Boner M
09-11-2013, 05:18 AM
But once it ended, it began to permeate and reshape in my mind in a very strong and rare way.
Bingo.

I find it hard to believe that there'll be a more go-for-broke, pure-cinema narrative film this year; Upstream Color looks utterly prosaic by comparison. Gets a little more conventional toward the end, but still retains a nicely mythic sweep. Gonna review it soon, I think.

Also, was pretty amazed to learn in the Q&A that Johansson's encounters with the men she picks up (and a few other scenes, too) were filmed Candid-Camera style - the men all unwitting participants - with cameras that were made specifically for the film. Nice to see a Kubrick heir-apparent filmmaker willing to open up to the non-diegetic world.

Ezee E
09-11-2013, 07:16 AM
Too bad that Elephant Man wasn't candid camera...

Henry Gale
09-11-2013, 06:31 PM
Too bad that Elephant Man wasn't candid camera...

In our Q&A, a woman asked about him, if that character was achieved through make-up or anything like that, and Glazer and his producer simply answered, "That's his face. He's not an actor."

Right then a stunned, sinking feeling rushed through me and likely a significant amount of the rest of the suddenly deafeningly silent crowd.

The disparity between what the film is technically about (maybe in a more snappy, high concept logline than how it actually plays out) and how much reality it seamlessly blends into it could be written about for ages in and of itself. And that's before realizing there's still a laundry list of images I'm not sure how I'd interpret yet.

Ezee E
09-12-2013, 01:00 AM
I kind of have the feeling that Glazer might be pulling people's legs a little though.

Henry Gale
09-12-2013, 02:26 AM
I kind of have the feeling that Glazer might be pulling people's legs a little though.

That's the thing though, I can't be sure.

Boner M
09-13-2013, 03:02 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN2AML8t5M4

There's a bunch of other docos about him on youtube.

Boner M
09-18-2013, 10:18 PM
Reviewed it (http://www.torontoscreenshots.com/2013/09/18/skin/)

Henry Gale
01-03-2014, 08:56 AM
I guess if we want something in the 2014 sub-forum, this could technically be moved there since it'll get an official release in March or April, depending on where people live. (And that wait is something I'm already starting to feel eat away at me since I really badly want to see it again but have no way of doing so.... Is this what pre-home video days felt like?)

But yeah, it's only improved in my mind since. Easily makes my Top 10 of 2013 if I allow it to qualify.

Pop Trash
02-12-2014, 06:42 PM
I've watched the trailer for this oh about ten times in two days. COME OUT ALREADY MOVIE.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rVZrbPmvwA

Skitch
02-13-2014, 12:52 AM
I've watched the trailer for this oh about ten times in two days. COME OUT ALREADY MOVIE.


THIS!

Henry Gale
02-13-2014, 01:23 AM
Such a good trailer. Pretty similar to what a non-spoiler-y mental montage looks and sounds like when I think about it. (They just announced the fantastic score will be released at the same time!)

Which also means it's really nice that unlike a lot of promos for delicately-paced and unusually constructed films, it doesn't feel the need to use all of the film's best images. And I'm not even talking about the ScarJo boob ones.

Boner M
02-13-2014, 01:27 AM
Poster's dope too:

https://rymimg.com/lk/o/F/acf1f4be68db1a6212f052788404d8 8f/5118638.jpg

Henry Gale
03-26-2014, 12:32 AM
You can stream the entire soundtrack on Pitchfork Advance until April 1st! (http://pitchfork.com/advance/384-under-the-skin/)

It is sensational.

Ivan Drago
03-26-2014, 01:02 AM
I've watched the trailer for this oh about ten times in two days. COME OUT ALREADY MOVIE.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rVZrbPmvwA

I've been following the viral marketing like crazy. I can't stop telling my friends about it....GOD DAMN IT, I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Boner M
04-02-2014, 01:47 AM
Ed Gonzalez's review (http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/under-the-skin) is superb. Wanna rewatch this sooo badly...

chrisnu
04-07-2014, 01:16 AM
Agreed about the sensational soundtrack (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O11i0UMatV4&feature=share&list=PLsWUUEC9KpqEBkQ4PDT36Vld XZGd6pxSo).

Pop Trash
04-14-2014, 03:39 AM
About as sensational as that trailer. I'm actually amazed they managed to sustain that vibe all the way through. Kubrick and Nicolas Roeg are gimmes but I also detected a lot of silent film influences here; chiefly Murnau and Dreyer*

Also dat score and use of black negative space. I'm actually downright jealous of this film. It's the type of thing I would like to make or at least work on in some capacity.

The "melting men" scene might be the most eye popping and artful use of SFX I've seen since The Tree of Life and The Fountain.

*was I the only one that thought the final shot here might have been a nod to the final shot of The Passion of Joan of Arc?

Pop Trash
04-14-2014, 06:49 AM
Here's an article Adam Pearson wrote about himself for The Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2592254/Adam-Pearson-hopes-beat-prejudice-Under-The-Skin.html

number8
04-17-2014, 03:38 AM
Nightmare fuel.

Love it. Impeccable use of music. I'll probably develop more of an opinion on it with time, but how can you not love this just from the way it vibes? So good.

Izzy Black
04-20-2014, 01:58 AM
Incredible movie.

Ivan Drago
04-20-2014, 02:38 AM
About as sensational as that trailer. I'm actually amazed they managed to sustain that vibe all the way through. Kubrick and Nicolas Roeg are gimmes but I also detected a lot of silent film influences here; chiefly Murnau and Dreyer*


I thought there was an influence from Dimitri Kirsanoff's Menilmontant in the shot that is now my avatar. There's superimposition abound in that film.

This movie was fucking sublime.

Spinal
04-23-2014, 04:20 AM
This was really good. I loved the spare dialogue. It could have quite easily been a silent film and not lost much. I would like to just go ahead and give this next year's Matchie award for Best Original Score. This is the kind of film I wish Scarlet Johannson would do more often. She was utterly captivating.

Boner M
04-23-2014, 04:55 PM
Yeah the score is instant-canon. Esp. this track:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P5j-S1cAP4

Spinal
04-23-2014, 05:28 PM
Wow, just discovered that the composer is a 26-year old woman working on her first film. Impressive.

quido8_5
04-23-2014, 09:31 PM
Hmmm, this is a lot to process.

You can say that again. Long time observer, former poster, deciding to hopefully contribute to the conversation here.

I believe this may be one of those movies that can't be watched, only rewatched. It hasn't left my head since I left the theater last week. Johansson was chilling throughout, though she found some room to be relatable. The score was both fantastic and used perfectly. I, too, was shocked that Glazer was able to sustain that tone throughout the whole film. One thing that I've been wrestling with (especially after reading the article Boner posted): who is the predator at any given moment? I love that Glazer opted for a far more ambiguous route than the novel, allows for a richer discussion about identity, consumerism and the weight of human life.

One thing that I might be able to add to the discussion: I'm struck by the linearity of the story line. Though it is one of the most baffling films I've ever seen (makes Tree of Life look like Forest Gump), I believe that the character finding out what/who she is and who she can relate to (if anyone) knit the film together and explored some difficult topics about who we manipulate others vs. try to find genuine connections with them. Her arch is complex and difficult to fully grasp, but it's clear by that final scene that we know that she is someone who desperately longs to know who she is or has become. I found the shot of Johansson's face, just prior to the pyre, heartbreaking.

Also, lol on the vag check after she nearly sleeps with the dude. One quick clarifying question, does anyone know who's house the biker went to? Was it the elephant man?

Bosco B Thug
05-06-2014, 11:43 AM
Incredulous even as some sort of fable (though apparently it's germinated from an actual plot-containing book, driven by humorous satire... bold oppositional move by Glazer; anyway, irate mainstream audiences seem a given), an uneasy marriage between many things, at first seemingly one between British-tradition realism and Kubrick. That latter point is actually a great compliment, as Glazer successfully creates something free-flowing and true under a hand of remarkable restraint. Meanwhile, Kubrick, yes, but also Brakhage, Silent cinema (as Pop Trash and Ivan already astutely observed), and, most remarkably, Bresson.

Boner M
05-21-2014, 01:33 PM
Gonna continue discussion here instead of facebook...


It sounds like we're in agreement that the mid-film shift doesn't entirely work, but you were willing to let it slide just a bit more than I was. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very good film, and the second half is by no means a wash, but Glazer lost me a bit with the mirror, the fog, the forest, and whatnot.
I didn't have a problem with the mirror and forest scenes (the latter especially because it has the film's most memorable image, ie the dissolve from foetal sleep to forest, which reminded me of Apichatpong), but I actually think the fog patch scene is one of the most crucial and mysterious scenes in the film; it's pretty thudding if you read it as metaphor, but I saw it more as exposition, ie, she encounters something on Earth that reminds her of the abyss from which she originated (or is at least more familiar with), and is accordingly seduced by it.

Henry Gale
06-26-2014, 02:09 AM
Anyone checked this out at home yet? (Hopefully with as good a screen, sound and as few distractions or breaks as possible.)

It's now out On Demand, iTunes and the like. It's also pretty damn great but uncompromisingly its own thing, so be prepared (and pumped!) for that.

Irish
06-27-2014, 09:49 AM
Beautiful and empty.

The visuals are gorgeous. I love the use of negative space. It's a clever, artistic way to visually communicate certain actions. But we end up seeing the same action three or four times, and it plays out more or less the same way each time. That's not clever or artistic. If the repetition itself doesn't have any particular point (and here, I don't think it does), then it just feels lazy.

The music was well done and effective but I hated the way it was used. It's one thing to use a jarring soundtrack to evoke emotion against more placid visuals. But to do it repeatedly, over the course of two hours, turns the movie into a one trick pony. It's old Hollywood and melodramatic and I can't help but think it a crutch. The filmmakers hit the sound hard because the rest of the film isn't strong enough to evoke any true feeling.

That's where my biggest problem lies. A few folks drew comparisons between this and Kubrick, but aside from catchy visuals and an icy tone, I don't see it. Kubrick never did anything this empty, this devoid of ideas. Even when he was at his coldest (The Shining?), there was still something human at work in his movies.

And yeah, I know. It's a movie about an alien. But the film doesn't have any characters, just set ups. It doesn't have anything new or interesting to say about the heroine's experience. Instead, it relies almost entirely on being opaque to generate interest. Now that I really resented. The Slant review posted above contains more narrative information in its first paragraph than the film does in its entire runtime.

That's bullshit, because it means the movie isn't self contained. I've got to do all the heavy lifting on it's behalf. I've got to know going in that Scarlett is an intergalactic hunter-gatherer and I've got to be empathetic as hell towards her for this movie to register at all. Otherwise, none of it makes any sense. It's a music video, catchy visuals and a helluva score and not much else.

Boner M
06-27-2014, 04:48 PM
Beautiful and empty.

The visuals are gorgeous. I love the use of negative space. It's a clever, artistic way to visually communicate certain actions. But we end up seeing the same action three or four times, and it plays out more or less the same way each time. That's not clever or artistic. If the repetition itself doesn't have any particular point (and here, I don't think it does), then it just feels lazy.
It's a film about an entity built for routine veering from that routine after experiencing difference within a field of sameness. The repetition is crucial. And the action hardly plays out the same way each time. The first time it's insinuating and creepy, the second time it's darkly funny (the smash cut from the guy dancing at the club to him dancing in the abyss is pretty hilarious) and then horrifying, the third time we only follow the guy to door, and the fourth time with the facially-disfigured guy is a completely different tone altogether.

As for the film being devoid of ideas, it's pretty obviously using uncanny/genre-fied premises to get at ideas of everyday estrangement and inequality (specifically gender-based). Whether you think it successfully explores them is another matter, but they're there.

Boner M
06-27-2014, 04:50 PM
Also, looking at the ratings: who is Frank TJ Mackey?

ledfloyd
06-28-2014, 12:50 AM
Man. This is the first film I've watched at home in a long time without ever pausing or looking at my phone. That may say more about my general attention deficit, but this broke right through it. Still kind of in a daze, but what a deeply engrossing film, and I'm also astounded at the ability to keep it going to feature length.

Irish
06-28-2014, 01:30 AM
It's a film about an entity built for routine veering from that routine after experiencing difference within a field of sameness. The repetition is crucial. And the action hardly plays out the same way each time.

I have to disagree, B. The repetition serves no other purpose than establishing that she has routine. Each "black room" scene has a similar structure and visual motif. They each take place about 15 to 20 minutes apart. But they don't inform on the characters in a meaningful way. They don't provide the audience with any new insight. The club kid dances and the deformed man says "It's a dream." So what? That doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.

All of this takes an hour -- half the film's runtime -- but why? If we shuffled those scenes around and presented them in a different order, would it matter?


As for the film being devoid of ideas, it's pretty obviously using uncanny/genre-fied premises to get at ideas of everyday estrangement and inequality (specifically gender-based). Whether you think it successfully explores them is another matter, but they're there.

I'm not sure that the film presents a singular social dynamic is enough. I wouldn't call that an "idea" in and of itself, because there's no interpretation or insight involved.

ledfloyd
06-28-2014, 01:50 AM
All of this takes an hour -- half the film's runtime -- but why?
Why not? It's consistently engaging. That said, I think there is a slow evolution from encounter to encounter and something clearly changes when she meets the deformed guy.

Boner M
06-28-2014, 06:24 AM
I have to disagree, B. The repetition serves no other purpose than establishing that she has routine. Each "black room" scene has a similar structure and visual motif. They each take place about 15 to 20 minutes apart. But they don't inform on the characters in a meaningful way. They don't provide the audience with any new insight. The club kid dances and the deformed man says "It's a dream." So what? That doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.
Regardless of how much we disagree that a film should only impart narrative information, we clearly do learn something different with each iteration of the routine. We see what she does to them the first time, we see what happens to them the second time, and with the deformed guy, we see someone reacting differently to her act because of the skin they inhabit, which prompts her to act on her newfound feelings of curiosity, in a way that the others couldn't have.

Irish
06-28-2014, 06:50 AM
Regardless of how much we disagree that a film should only impart narrative information, we clearly do learn something different with each iteration of the routine.

Well, that's a different discussion. I didn't mean to imply there's an inherent issue with a scarcity of narrative information at the scene level. But this movie takes that sort of idea to an absurd level. If someone stumbled across this thing on late night cable, would they be able to suss out what the hell was going on?

I'm not sure they would.


We see what she does to them the first time, we see what happens to them the second time, and with the deformed guy, we see someone reacting differently to her act because of the skin they inhabit, which prompts her to act on her newfound feelings of curiosity, in a way that the others couldn't have.

Good point. I mostly meant the characters. We don't learn anything about them as people (glancing at the credits, most don't even have names). We don't learn anything about what this alien creature feels about her work, or whether she's capable of feeling at all. We don't know what she wants, if anything, beyond her job. We don't learn anything about our world, and these moments don't provide any perspective or insight into much of anything, as good science fiction usually does.

I went into the film knowing only the star, the director, and the very basic premise (that she's a murderous alien). I almost wish I hadn't known any of that, because then the film might have struck me as something fantastic and weird and a little bit scary.

Instead, I kept trying to interpret it as a story and a piece of science fiction, and on both those levels it fails badly.

Pop Trash
06-29-2014, 04:15 AM
Well, that's a different discussion. I didn't mean to imply there's an inherent issue with a scarcity of narrative information at the scene level. But this movie takes that sort of idea to an absurd level. If someone stumbled across this thing on late night cable, would they be able to suss out what the hell was going on?

I'm not sure they would.


Who gives a shit? I doubt people would be able to 'suss out' Eraserhead or Persona if they caught them on some awesome late night cable channel (a good night at TCM?). It doesn't make them less than singular works of cinematic art.

That being said, I don't think this film is as 'difficult' as some are making it out to be. It's oft compared to The Man Who Fell to Earth, but I actually a) think this is a better film overall and b) think this narrative is easier to follow if you really pay attention from start to finish. I still don't really get the 'evil corporation' subplot of TMWFTE.

Irish
06-29-2014, 04:27 AM
Who gives a shit? I doubt people would be able to 'suss out' Eraserhead or Persona if they caught them on some awesome late night cable channel (a good night at TCM?). It doesn't make them less than singular works of cinematic art.

The purpose of the cable analogy was to highlight that the film isn't self contained, and the experience of it changes wildly depending of viewer's prior knowledge. Since I don't think that was part of the artistic intent, I view it as a weakness.

That's also the difference between this film and something like Eraserhead, where surrealistic images and a jumbled narrative are intentional and part of the whole.

To answer your first question last: I give a shit. That's why I wrote what I wrote.

Boner M
06-29-2014, 04:53 AM
The purpose of the cable analogy was to highlight that the film isn't self contained, and the experience of it changes wildly depending of viewer's prior knowledge.
Oh no, a film that allows for different experiences.


That's also the difference between this film and something like Eraserhead, where surrealistic images and a jumbled narrative are intentional and part of the whole.
You think the narrative of UtS is jumbled? And that its images are unintentionally surreal? Seriously?

Irish
06-29-2014, 05:56 AM
Oh no, a film that allows for different experiences.

You misunderstand my criticism.

It only allows for a different experience if the viewer is completely ignorant of the film's content. That's not a positive trait, and I doubt it's intentional.

You can take any number of movies with ambiguous elements, from 2001 to Blade Runner to Total Recall to Inception, and form an interpretation of them based on the film itself, based on what the film has shown and told you.

That's not quite possible with Under the Skin because the film tells you little to nothing. It's nearly impossible to interpret it without consulting an outside source; a review, essay, or the original novel.

That's the part of it that bugs me, that I think is a major weakness.


You think the narrative of UtS is jumbled? And that its images are unintentionally surreal? Seriously?

No. Also, not what I said.

Boner M
06-29-2014, 06:21 AM
That's not quite possible with Under the Skin because the film tells you little to nothing. It's nearly impossible to interpret it without consulting an outside source; a review, essay, or the original novel.
How so? We learn that she's not of this world, and is harvesting men for some nefarious purpose, and that's all we need to know for what the film's trying to do, ie an experiential portrayal of humanity from an alien's POV. Apart from that, I don't see why you would think the elliptical nature of the story is unintentional. Do you think Glazer & co. had the film ready to be premiered and then remembered "whoops, we forgot the elaborate backstory!".


No. Also, not what I said.
"That's also the difference between this film and something like Eraserhead, where surrealistic images and a jumbled narrative are intentional and part of the whole." Here, you imply that the surreal imagery of UtS and its allegedly jumbled narrative are unintentional, no? Now who's being impossible to interpret? ;)

Irish
06-29-2014, 07:30 AM
How so? We learn that she's not of this world, and is harvesting men for some nefarious purpose

Ah, but you're cheating a little bit. The film never clearly indicates that she's alien, and it barely communicates that she's harvesting human meat. We know she's seducing guys and presumably killing them, but we don't really know how, why or to what end.

Imagine going into this film totally blind. How would you interpret it? What's it about? Go back and watch it through those eyes. Now contrast that experience with the one of someone who had read that Slant review first and benefits from Ed Gonzalez explaining everything the movie does not.

See the problem? The "blind" viewer has no way to interpret the event of this movie on his own. It not only lacks basic narrative information, but it also never hints about what any character thinks about the events they experience. How is that possible? If you believe in the auteur theory, this movie leaves you empty handed. Glazer never tips his hand, he never delivers a point of view, and it's pretty much impossible to know what he thinks about his own characters.


I don't see why you would think the elliptical nature of the story is unintentional.

I don't think that. I'm saying the lack of narrative information in this film, its deliberate obtuseness, creates a weird side effect. Your experience of this film chances completely depending on how much you know about it before going in. It's not self contained. That's the part that's unintentional.

Boner M
06-29-2014, 08:25 AM
Ah, but you're cheating a little bit. The film never clearly indicates that she's alien, and it barely communicates that she's harvesting human meat.
It doesn't indicate that she's an alien from outer space, but it does indicate that she's not of this world. In the first five minutes we see her in a space that's clearly not in any Earthly realm. We see and (especially) hear the world around her differently. That her true nature isn't imparted to us is because what she does and who she is isn't unusual or notable to her. We're dropped, in media res, into someone's POV. This is clearly a conscious choice. And something I find exciting in cinema, when executed well.

Additionally, we see the men sucked into a black abyss, implode, and then a mass of gore sliding down a chute, then through a kind of cosmic funnelling system. In any case, I found the film's mysteries engaging as I let it wash over me. I felt in the hands of someone who knows what he's doing.

All I'm getting here is that you're faulting the film for not fitting your idea of what a film should be.

Irish
06-29-2014, 09:23 AM
It doesn't indicate that she's an alien from outer space, but it does indicate that she's not of this world. In the first five minutes we see her in a space that's clearly not in any Earthly realm.

You assume those events are a literal representation of reality. Without any kind of point of reference, those scenes could easily be viewed as metaphoric.


Additionally, we see the men sucked into a black abyss, implode, and then a mass of gore sliding down a chute, then through a kind of cosmic funnelling system.

You're cheating again, and leaning on the crutch of foreknowledge. What you're describing is a lot more opaque than you make it out to be. We see a guy implode, a chute filled with blood and some kind of bio matter, and some brightly colored, red, machinery (there isn't anything "cosmic" about it).

Okay, she's killing people and in a weird way. But do we ever learn why? Nope. Does she ever have any kind of reaction to repeatedly doing this? Nope. Do we ever know why she let the deformed guy run off? Nope. Is she developing empathy and seeking out human behavior and company after spending time on this planet? Wait, what? If she is, does that cause any kind if internal conflict for her? Who the fuck knows! Look, bright colors! Cool lighting! Harsh sounds!

I'm being overly facetious -- the movie is a helluva audio and visual experience, but I also think that only gets you so far. I don't think it deserves to be praised for that alone, especially as it's lacking in a lot of other areas.


All I'm getting here is that you're faulting the film for not fitting your idea of what a film should be.

:lol: Why didn't you just shorthand it and say I "didn't get it"? I got it; there isn't much to get. The film succeeds on its production design and its audio track. You like that it takes an unconventional approach. So be it. I need more.

Boner M
06-29-2014, 10:57 AM
You're cheating again, and leaning on the crutch of foreknowledge. What you're describing is a lot more opaque than you make it out to be. We see a guy implode, a chute filled with blood and some kind of bio matter, and some brightly colored, red, machinery (there isn't anything "cosmic" about it).
What foreknowledge? The processing that the mens' innards go through in that brief montage sequence becomes increasingly abstract, as if matter is being distended across time and space; I'm confident that I would see the sequence the same way without any prior knowledge of the premise. There's only so much that a human mind can envisage about 'alienness'; I like that the film acknowledges those limitations.

number8
06-29-2014, 06:41 PM
Every movie should make the audience do most of the heavy lifting, I say.

Izzy Black
06-30-2014, 02:57 PM
That's bullshit, because it means the movie isn't self contained. I've got to do all the heavy lifting on it's behalf. I've got to know going in that Scarlett is an intergalactic hunter-gatherer and I've got to be empathetic as hell towards her for this movie to register at all. Otherwise, none of it makes any sense. It's a music video, catchy visuals and a helluva score and not much else.

I didn't know the movie was about an alien when I went into see it. I had zero prior knowledge of the film before I saw it. This made for an extremely engaging cerebral experience, something akin to a Kubrick experience, so I think the comparison is apt. I was completely locked in. It's one of my all time great theater experiences. I'm really glad I resisted reading anything about it before I saw it. It's a thematically rich film. It's less strictly about alienation than it is about embodiment and a crisis of identity, but of course, these ideas aren't mutually exclusive with the problem of otherness (cf. Denis Beau Travail). It's an art film though that speaks with its images and not with words. I had to do a lot of the intellectual work, but it was the film's job to challenge me to do so. I had no trouble extrapolating its ideas. I came home and read the Slant review and found that it was right at home with everything I thought, which is surprising, because Slant's has become increasingly more unreadable over the past year.

Izzy Black
06-30-2014, 03:08 PM
I should point out I wasn't totally sure she was, in fact, an alien, until the end, but that's OK! It was actually a brilliant, emotionally powerful reveal for me (even though I was all but sure), whereas for everyone else who had even read the plot I imagine it was a foregone conclusion. The sense I had of her as an "alien" was a deeply abstract conception of it, I was riffing on her otherness, a sociopath, an organized criminal. Who is she? Some intergalactic species harvesting humans? Perhaps. She was certainly foreign. She's uncomfortable in her own skin, but also, almost somewhat indifferent to that fact. I was drawn to the mystery, her mystery, and her own callous bemusement. The film exploited my uncertainty brilliantly, constantly forcing me to engage the theme rather than passively accept its obvious thematic touchstones.

Izzy Black
06-30-2014, 03:43 PM
The purpose of the cable analogy was to highlight that the film isn't self contained, and the experience of it changes wildly depending of viewer's prior knowledge.

BTW, this is true of most thrillers. Make no mistake, on a formal level, this film is a thriller (it obeys the conventions of the genre, while also inventively flouting some). It actively exploits a narrative mystery. The more you know about the plot going in the more your experience with the film will be affected. For some, knowledge of the specifics of its generic workings (sci-fi thriller) doesn't take away from its impact. For others, it might. The central point being, though, that in any case, it's perfectly possible to pick up all the ideas whether you know something about it or not.

Grouchy
07-19-2014, 07:33 AM
I'm not sure what to make of this film. On one hand, it looks and sounds beautiful. On the other hand, it was hard to anchor myself to anything in it. I half-agree with Irish here - my previous knowledge of what the plot was about was the only thing that helped me make sense of some scenes.

Pop Trash
07-29-2014, 09:06 PM
Rewatched this on DVD. One new thing I noticed is there is a brief shot of the sky over an apartment building with what appears to be some CGI enhanced lights or lightning or some alien crap happening up there. I'm wondering if this is where ScarJo's UFO is located or if I'm just over thinking things.

Also, how bonkers is that scene with the domino effect of drowning people on the coast? Plus the total disregard for the abandoned baby. I think every viewer's innate human empathy countered against the characters' total lack of empathy makes this scene really disturbing.

Dukefrukem
07-31-2014, 01:39 AM
This was almost as bad as Spring Breakers, Leviathan and Only God Forgives combined.

Dukefrukem
07-31-2014, 01:40 AM
Rewatched this on DVD. One new thing I noticed is there is a brief shot of the sky over an apartment building with what appears to be some CGI enhanced lights or lightning or some alien crap happening up there. I'm wondering if this is where ScarJo's UFO is located or if I'm just over thinking things.


I noticed this and that's absolutely what it is.

Dukefrukem
07-31-2014, 01:44 AM
:lol: Why didn't you just shorthand it and say I "didn't get it"? I got it; there isn't much to get. The film succeeds on its production design and its audio track. You like that it takes an unconventional approach. So be it. I need more.

Yeh I need way more. You pretty much hit every nail on the head for me. Not going to deny the audio track was haunting and fit extremely well with the black void scenes, but there's just no rhyme or reason for this movie to exist. Not in the way it was presented.

I am however agreeing with the idea she's an alien based on the UFO sightings.

Again, not the least bit surprised half of MC gave this 5 stars.

Dukefrukem
07-31-2014, 01:53 AM
This is gonna win like 6 Matchies...

Ezee E
07-31-2014, 01:57 AM
This is gonna win like 6 Matchies...

Doubt it wins one.

Seems like a Nolan or PTA year.

Spinal
07-31-2014, 03:22 AM
Doubt it wins one.


Best Original Score is a lock.

Yxklyx
07-31-2014, 07:40 PM
Rewatched this on DVD. One new thing I noticed is there is a brief shot of the sky over an apartment building with what appears to be some CGI enhanced lights or lightning or some alien crap happening up there. I'm wondering if this is where ScarJo's UFO is located or if I'm just over thinking things.

Also, how bonkers is that scene with the domino effect of drowning people on the coast? Plus the total disregard for the abandoned baby. I think every viewer's innate human empathy countered against the characters' total lack of empathy makes this scene really disturbing.

Was that baby real, in which case it will be traumatized for life? ... or was the baby a CGI?

Grouchy
07-31-2014, 08:13 PM
Was that baby real, in which case it will be traumatized for life? ... or was the baby a CGI?
Huh?

Dukefrukem
07-31-2014, 08:14 PM
Yay I don't have the worst post in this thread!

Grouchy
07-31-2014, 08:38 PM
I like this more and more as the days go by, by the way.

dreamdead
08-08-2014, 03:10 PM
An exhilarating experience, one that grows stronger rather than recedes. The lack of narrative occasionally becomes taxing in the in-viewing experience, but with some remove the purely ostentatious visuals (sinking into liquid black, the shedding of the skin in the forest) become transcendent reminders of what quality visual design to remain haunting.

In terms of narrative, this is a fascinating experiment in adaptation studies. Apparently the novel is a metaphor for animal cruelty and urging reform; the film, however, sublimates all of that tension into how femininity can be a violent projection for the death drive but one that "she" realizes is predicated on her own submission into sexual objectification, and how little knowledge she has over "her" body, she is left behind by her peers. The whole sequence with the deformed man and his eventual fleeing is probably going to be one of the most haunting experiences.

Good stuff--I expect it to remain strong for the rest of the year. Didn't especially love the soundtrack except for the standout "Love" track; the rest is good, but I expected more like that track, I guess.

Kirby Avondale
08-18-2014, 02:30 AM
That's not quite possible with Under the Skin because the film tells you little to nothing. It's nearly impossible to interpret it without consulting an outside source; a review, essay, or the original novel.

I just wonder where these reviews and essays come from. How did they manage to interpret the movie? Did Glazer tell them? Other reviews and essays? Essays all the way down.

Irish
08-18-2014, 05:42 AM
I just wonder where these reviews and essays come from. How did they manage to interpret the movie? Did Glazer tell them? Other reviews and essays? Essays all the way down.

Press kits.

Pop Trash
08-18-2014, 05:50 AM
Anybody that has seen the movie Starman (among other things) could figure it out. Come on.

Kirby Avondale
08-19-2014, 01:35 AM
Press kits.
Oboy. How did Izzy manage without one? All I knew was the basic premise and the candid camera gimmick. All the same, I got the main character's arc and a workable grasp of the themes, nutshelled: the encounter of human and alien consciousness, of our affect and "hers" - "hers" not just because she isn't human or necessarily female, but because her consciousness proves porous. Her human performance sinks in, seduces her and creates a new, jumbled sense of self, sensitive to people, but vulnerable to everything. Gladly she acts this out instead of summarizing it for us, so this whole business of radical translation isn't watered down or papered over. Instead we get stuff like her leading dudes into void pools followed by a guy leading her delicately down a castle staircase. It's reaching right down into our animal guts and stirring up all the inexplicable shit that makes us, us.

Irish
08-19-2014, 02:12 AM
All I knew was the basic premise and the candid camera gimmick.

It seems you missed the point I attempted to make.

Any movie nowadays has context around it. From press reports and advertising, and sometimes source material.

In watching this film, I wondered what it would be like and how one might interpret it if one went in well and truly blind. Would it make sense? Hold together? The movie itself relays so little narrative information.

That's it. That was the whole of my observation. I think there might be a weakness there, but *shrug* if you don't, hey, glad you enjoyed the picture.

Kirby Avondale
08-19-2014, 02:53 AM
It seems you missed the point I attempted to make.

Any movie nowadays has context around it. From press reports and advertising, and sometimes source material.

In watching this film, I wondered what it would be like and how one might interpret it if one went in well and truly blind. Would it make sense? Hold together? The movie itself relays so little narrative information.

That's it. That was the whole of my observation. I think there might be a weakness there, but *shrug* if you don't, hey, glad you enjoyed the picture.
I find that weird, because Izzy already answered that. And what does knowing that she's some sort of alien being matter? That's hardly a great leap from early on, unless you know of some other being that floats around in unearthly voids and harvests humans. The rest of the content of my post is information gleaned directly from the movie and reasons given for why it's presented as it is. If that stuff doesn't bear on your point, then I don't see that your point is getting at anything interesting about the movie or movies generally.

Spinal
08-19-2014, 06:54 AM
The ambiguity is one of my favorite things about this movie.

Winston*
08-19-2014, 07:02 AM
I saw this movie and the Belle and Sebastian musical God Help the Girl on subsequent nights, which was kind of fascinating in showing how differently two films can show a city.

This movie's urban nightmare much closer reflects my experience of what Glasgow is like. In God Help the Girl, Glasgow is always sunny and contains no Scottish people.

Pop Trash
08-19-2014, 07:14 PM
Did you like God Help the Girl? I'm a pretty big B&S fan so I imagine my opinion will be biased towards the positive.

DavidSeven
02-27-2015, 06:28 PM
It's definitely a taxing piece and probably more at home in a museum than a movie theater. If we're forced to use labels, it doesn't work as a "thriller." There's no tension, because the film is devoid of characters so we have no reason to care beyond the wonderment of how it will unfold. Not to say that's an inherent flaw; I don't think it was within Glazer's intention to create something that was dramatically compelling. I'm not sure there's much use in rating this on the same scale we use for stuff like The Avengers. It's a different thing, and to the credit of the filmmakers, it at least makes no bones about it. I'm not even sure that it's of the same ilk of Persona, 2001 or Tree of Life. Those films play like Chinatown in comparison to this. It's not just a different genre, it's practically a different form -- like comparing a novel to a long poem.

Like everything, but perhaps more pointedly with this film, the viewer's response will depend on how willing they are to engage the material. The film does little for you in this regard, and I'd be lying if I said my mind didn't wander. The film certainly has more ideas than most narrative films, but maybe not enough to compensate entirely for its outright dismissal of convention. Once you make sense of what's happening, it's a pretty straight forward and penetrable piece. I found it interesting in spurts, but maybe not enough to justify its length or its repeated holding of shots.

Does it resonate and settle well on reflection? Yes. Would I recommend it to an average movie-goer? No. It's sort of a shame that it's marketed as a sci-fi thriller, because I think these types of films can discourage viewers who actually do seek sophisticated work and are consistently let down by critical consensus. With some films, the art and commerce factors just don't overlap. As mentioned, there is no use saying Under the Skin is a "good movie" and Marvel Film X is a "bad movie." Different ballgame, different sport. I have no rating for this film. There are many things of value in it, but nothing about it will be bring me back or get me to watch it again unless it's being projected on the wall of some museum or trendy self-serious coffee-house/bar.

Pop Trash
02-27-2015, 06:49 PM
I'm kind of at a loss with people who think this is too outre. The narrative thread is really straight forward. The Man Who Fell to Earth is more confusing to me.

DavidSeven
02-27-2015, 06:56 PM
I'm kind of at a loss with people who think this is too outre. The narrative thread is really straight forward. The Man Who Fell to Earth is more confusing to me.

Yeah, I think the gist of the "story" is pretty easily penetrable. I think the lack of conventional dramatic tension and dialogue probably causes people to disengage for chunks at a time, but that doesn't mean its opaque. It's just more challenging/taxing to engage.

Dead & Messed Up
02-27-2015, 07:01 PM
I got serious "The Brother From Another Planet" vibes, as that film was also more a combination of images and moments, a travelogue with a bit of story. I'd like to watch the two back to back sometime.

Pop Trash
02-27-2015, 08:03 PM
I got serious "The Brother From Another Planet" vibes, as that film was also more a combination of images and moments, a travelogue with a bit of story. I'd like to watch the two back to back sometime.

That's a good comparison that hasn't been brought up much. Probably because John Sayles isn't nearly as interested in being a hardcore stylist like Roeg & Glazer.

Skitch
02-28-2015, 12:32 AM
I saw this a while back when Match Cut was in transition. Fucking loved it. It was everything I wanted it to be. Best movie of the year, and no Oscar noms. A damn shame.

Spinal
11-17-2015, 08:00 PM
Wow, has anyone else read the book? Completely different. Glazer really made it his own.

Dukefrukem
03-27-2017, 02:00 PM
Scarlett is on Howard Stern this morning discussing this movie, and I had no idea the people she picks up off the street- most of them were non-actors and they filmed those scenes with hidden cameras.

transmogrifier
03-27-2017, 02:38 PM
Mild yay - first half is significantly better than the second half, where it becomes a standard "rebelling against your role" thing layered in arty catnip (mostly good arty catnip, but still...). The problem is, I never really bought the idea that the alien suddenly gains a conscience (for a lack of a better word) because she meets the deformed man and "feels" sorry for him (or at the very least recognizes him as different from everyone else). The first half does a great job of making the alien blank and programmed, with simple commands to follow (will they be missed immediately? Will I be seen?). Suddenly she is able to sympathize with the plight of an individual that suffers within a uniquely human context (looks vs. companionship vs. self-worth vs. loneliness). It plays a little like a little boy burning an ant hill and then choosing to save one particular ant because other ants find it ugly.... it ends up feeling hugely contrived when compared to the unsettling atmosphere that came before it.

Ezee E
03-30-2017, 06:38 AM
Scarlett is on Howard Stern this morning discussing this movie, and I had no idea the people she picks up off the street- most of them were non-actors and they filmed those scenes with hidden cameras.

I need to rewatch this, but I still don't believe that fully. If anything, I'll believe that there wasn't a script, but the non-actors knew what they were getting into.

number8
03-30-2017, 11:38 AM
Wasn't just the van scenes. The scenes of her walking around in the streets were filmed candidly too. When she fell and people came over to help her, those people didn't know they were filmed either.

Skitch
03-30-2017, 11:53 AM
I remember reading about that when the film came out.