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FILM: Under The Skin

Today, 11:09 AM

Under The Skin


Enigmatic is probably the word best suiting much of this film, the other is alien.


This sci-fi films opens with shots clearly homemaking CE3k (the light), Blade Runner (the eye) and 2001: ASO (the first shot of the motorcyclist in high speed looks like Dave Bowman going on his transcendental voyage).

After that is really becomes it's own thing.


Toi describe it's plot is to basically describe what happens on the screen. There isnt a traditional plot. Scenes happen, often for a reason, but at no point is it clear what will happen next.


Scarlett Johansson literally stars in this movie. She once started in indie cinema to become a big movie star, but is able to toss all of that away and pretty much returns to where she started, though more bizarre.

She plays her character (nameless, like every character in the film) as a complete empty vessel. An alien of some sort seemingly programmed to lure Scottish men into her den, where they are processed in a large liquid substance and eventually removed from their skin. For reasons never quite made plain.


Johanssen's enigmatic smile and her voice are used by her character, but only when she is on her mission. For the rest her facial expressions are either completely blank, a subtle curious bemusement, discomfort and a bit later mild enjoyment and panic.

At first a effective predator she begins to falter in his task as she is overwhelmed by the sensory output she is receiving on this planet. Without even a hint of exposition the film is able to tell a lot about her character. Her home planet must be completely different. without the variety of colors, objects, and especially sounds. After a while it begins to overwhelm her and flees, for reasons probably not clear for herself either.


Jonanssen strips herself from any glamor she has as an actress,and become essentially someone acting out of an unknown impulse, going through the world with a very limited vocabulary, or frame of reference (the only engaging dialogue scenes she has are the pick-ups. In other scenes she is barely able to express anything, as if it wasnt part of her programming).

It's a brave performance, because it gives the viewer so little to latch on to.


Jonathan Glazer's direction purposely tries to avoid the viewer getting too close. It has a distinct 70's feel in how it was shot. Long, lingering shots from an extreme distance which would have made Kubrick proud are alternated with the convined conditions of the truck Johansson drives.


Music is used sparingly and very effectively. Lots of unearthly  atonal string stracting. an almost ritualistic theme with strings and a drum to signify the scenes where Johanssen lures men to their demise. (repeated in an almost ironic fashion later in the film)


This is a very puzzling film. If you think 2001: ASO was frustrating then stay away, because that film is a picture of clarity compared to this one.


Yes, it's very involving, for the right audience, the person who doesn't always need to be led by the director, writer or even the actor. I loved how the film was able to make things clear, or suggest things to me simply be showing whats going on, rather then telling me. And even though I'm sure my conclusions about it may be completely different to what might have been intended...but maybe thats the point.


Yes Johanssen has a few nude scenes here, particularly one where she examines herself in the mirror. It shows that she is indeed a gorgeous woman, yet there is something "normal" about here.


This is the sort of film many many will hate, because they think it's about nothing, and nothing happens.

That might actually be so. yet there is something irresistible about it.



Your second favorite John Williams score?

Yesterday, 09:47 AM

Just like the World Cup, just before we get to the excitement of the final, we have to get through the potentially uninspired process of selecting the best of the losers.


But because, if the previous polls done over the years are any indication, it's already clear that Germany will win this one....or TESB, actually.


But how about the runners up from each poll? The second favorite of each decade. All of them strong scores. (well not Heidi maybe)


I would not be able to predict the outcome of this one.


(Note to Jason and other OCD sufferers, yes I know technically this poll won't actually decide what the second most favorite score is)

Ice Bucket Challenge thingy....

04 September 2014 - 07:13 PM

Thanks you to Pete Saville (JWFan's Hitch) for nominating me!


Other film composers doing concerts

02 September 2014 - 11:21 AM

Since the 80's, John Williams has been a prolific performer of his own, and the music of other (film) composers in concerts. He has literally done hundreds of performances, including anual ones in Boston, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl.


Has there ever been another film composer who has had such an amount of success and longevity as a concert performer?


Goldsmith did do concerts, but no where near as many as Williams did. Shore took his LOTR symphony on tour for a while, and his music is still being performed in the Live To Screen Concerts but the success of that is more due to the popularity of LOTR then that of Shore himself.


I can't think of a single composer from Hollywood that could have had such an enduring success in concerts, certainly no currency active compose comes close.


From Europe obviously Morricone is the only one who also has had a long and persistent career performing his own music in concerts, all over the world. But I really doubt even he comes anywhere near JW's level.


That means when JW retires, or passes, a rather large gap will be left in that area. Is there anyone right now with the audience recognition that could come even close to filling those shoes?


Zimmer really is the only name I can think of. But a lot of his music really isnt all that suited for a traditional concert performance.



Your favorite John Williams score of the of 2010 - 2014 CONCLUDED

28 August 2014 - 01:09 PM

Either I wait another 6 years, or I'll just get this over with now.


the "tens" is going to be such a meager decade...