Sunday, April 20, 2014

Under the Skin (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Under the Skin

Just when you thought it was safe to go on a date, here is "Under the Skin", a new film by director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast). The film based on a novel by Michel Faber is tense and minimal which  makes for some enigmatic viewing to say the least.

An anonymous woman  (Scarlett Johansson) falls to earth by some kind of device out of a Kubrick film. This machine or orifice is round, porcelain white and eye-like. It emits some kind of communication and mimics a solar eclipse, but the who what and where answers are unclear and poetically opaque.

At any rate, we have a femme fatale landing in rural Scotland complete with fishnet stockings and little else.

This is not a creature that likes a wardrobe.

She is taken by a faceless biker  to some dim location.

Abruptly, she walks through a shopping mall, watching various women preen, primp, gobble and shop vacuously. This is executed well with some cinematography reminiscent of a George Romero zombie flick.

Then we see the alien woman driving a truck. She asks strangers the way to the post office and then offers them a lift. Most often they take her up on it. This straight talker (although  not much for idle chatter) seems taken by jock types but she is acutely short on charm.

She takes one hapless hunk into a dark room of indeterminate spatial dimensions and sets to work undressing, dialogue not included. Despite this woman having a body to envy, it is no sexy affair. The men turn gray and/or sink into a viscous pit of no return. These homicidal hijinks are done in a stark dance of pushing and pulling and walking away in the manner of a panther.

This is no dungeon or inner space that you would want to visit.

In one jolting scene, a man is sucked dry and dedicated while his face remains inflated and puffed like a grotesque balloon. While this is  startling echoing something of M.C. Escher, it has little lasting impact.

The alien Johansson emerges into the light and she resumes her endless route to the M8 or the post office.

She goes forth indiscriminately picking out her men, mostly (though not all ) are self centered, clueless and sexist.

In the book, apparently more information is revealed. This woman is an extraterrestrial and these men are used for food sources in factories.

But in the film, explanations are scarce.

The best parts of this story involve Scarlett Johansson's bemused or passive expressions as one man after another chatters incessantly and nonsensically about his athleticism or domestic dilemmas. As they ramble on, Johansson becomes more and more non-plussed, Although she offers some feigned gesture of interest.

This is where the film earns most of it keep, hovering somewhere between "The Man Who Fell to Earth" and any treatment by David Cronenberg.

By the end of "Under the Skin" we might want a little more mystery ---or a little less--- but suffice to say that the last image of the film ( with snow covering the camera ) is the most stirring second of all pointing to a Nature that is unconcerned and unmoved, without a care for any paranormal predicament.

Write Ian at redtv_2005@yahoo.ocm

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