An imprecise non-objective use of the word “good”. That and personal agendas drive our taste in film.
“______ was a good film”. We made a subjective examination. We enjoyed the film. We put some analysis and a bag of popcorn into it. It went places. The ending was comfortable. We weren’t bored.
We’re unaware of the interesting part of that film/agenda relationship in which the film falls a few pegs in our estimation simply because we’re not in the mood for it to do its own thing. We want it to do our thing. Wait, it’s a moody character piece? There’s a sideways-held gun on the poster and where’s my five car chases minimum? Bad movie, bad.
Are you watching the film or is your agenda? That galvanic, frog’s leg twitch of nope, sorry, wrong, dumb, boring. A reflex action saves time and lives, but try not to let dogma do the judging.
And the most agenda/dogma driven genre? Science fiction. Archly conservative, closed off and allowing for way too many double standards for a such a supposed forward thinking genre. Deify the multi-generational entertainment that’s Star Wars, and Avatar blows your eyeballs out but you still may hedge at Alphaville or Stalker. Even 2001: A Space Odyssey still confuses people.
An alien in the skin of a human female trolls Scotland for suitable males. Consumption? Case study? Under the Skin is easily gleaned as an invasion scenario but from there all bets are off on that boilerplate science fiction trope. While there’s never been a write-in campaign to keep art-house sensibility out of science fiction, you still have to wonder how director Jonathan Glazer‘s (Sexy Beast) first film in a decade will play on DVD in Peoria since a high percentage of critics called it “good”.
In a coldly thrilling performance, Scarlett Johansson switches from blank-eyed huntress to erotic siren like an insect snicking out its mandibles. Driving a van through the streets of Edinburgh, she pulls up to strange men asking for directions, complimenting them, asking if anyone expects them home and offering a lift (real passers-by were flagged down, filmed, then told they were just in a movie). Some go with her and never come back. A leather clad rider on a motorcycle seems to be her scout or guardian. Overgrown street corner lots give way to the rainy, rich green of the Scottish country side which melds into the black confines of her “abattoir”. It’s a shadowy film. Sex is used to entice but it’s a lost, macabre sexuality equal parts Breillat and Cronenberg. Does Johansson’s character understand sexual feeling? Is she showing mercy or meeting her species’ criteria for culling when a disfigured potential victim is set free. She seems to have replaced a simulacrum of herself. Is she going through a natural cycle for her kind or a breakdown? In recent memory only Shane Carruth‘s Upstream Color may be as daunting, ambitious and wonderful. From the breathtaking, minimalist opening sequence to the threnodic finale, this is an awe-inspiring return for Glazer.
The agenda of this review was to get you to see the film. It’s practically dogma. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 7/16/14