Tuesday, 25 March 2014

under the skin (w&d jonathan glazer, w. walter campbell)

Some points referring to Under The Skin:

Confused Narratives

Films don't have to make sense. They’re often more enjoyable if they don’t. As long as they’re not trying to make sense. The enigmatic can be the best cinema game in town. (cf Kubrick; Resnais; Antonioni) Albeit something that the British are rarely aware of. (Honourable exception Roeg, whose The Man Who Fell to Earth might be the godfather of UTS.)

Is this the most expensive low budget movie ever made?

One of the various clever things Glazer does in his film is appropriate a low-budget sensibility. By which it is meant: low budget filmmaking uses little-known actors or even non-actors. Low budget filmmaking doesn’t have the budget to try and “create” an ‘alternative’ world. So it focuses on the actual world. Which is what frequently gives low-budget filmmaking a sense of immediacy and relevance which a more, arch, “created” world does not. The first half of Under the Skin has the feel of an ob-doc about Glasgow street life. Which a glamorous alien/ hollywood star happens to be passing through. This juxtaposition sets off all kinds of sparks and gives the film a freshness which a more honed product lacks. Kudos to director and star for having the nerve to go down this route.

A little bit of humour goes a long way.

This is a film that’s laced with a mischievous sense of humour. Which helps to buy it space for the more esoteric angles it adopts. Humour gets the audience on board; the moments of humour are like way-stations on the film’s cryptic path. This is what Malick’s po-faced Tree of Life patently lacked, for example.

Is this a feminist movie?

Version 1: Men try to pick up chick thinking (correctly) she looks like a Hollywood star only to find she’s an alien luring them to their oily fate. Moral: men are fools who cannot see under the skin.
Version 2: Men try to pick up chick but in the process reveal their fundamental decency, to such an extent that the alien ends up taking pity on her victims and trying to discover her own humanity. She (it) only meets a truly malicious soul at the very end of the movie whose misguided attempt at rape preempts the finale. 
Whilst Glazer’s film clearly pokes fun at the masculine, there’s a warmth to its tone which belies the probable reading which the film will receive on Cinema & Gender courses in the 2020s.

No comments: