Under the Skin – We Can’t Have Sex With Aliens

I was quite surprised to learn that Jonathan Glazer chose Scarlett Johansson as the anti-heroine of his new sci-fi movie; Under the Skin. I personally never thought of her as a great actress, but I believe it was because I always found her in the same type of roles; the pulpy blond with curves that every man falls in love with. But even though the storyline stays basically the same, in Under the Skin she’s not blond, and she’s not human.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 9.10.02The movie is forming a loop, therefore I will speak of the opening of it, at the end of the review.

Hence, Alien Johansson, is a killer hooker, yes I explain. She wandered around Scotland, in her white van, looking for men. She starts by simulating her being lost, and finishes by offering to drop off the man to wherever he’s going. But then she makes a lusty proposition, and head to her house, which is actually more of a portal. She undresses, moving backwards, teasing the guy to follow her, until hypnotized he sinks into a black water, and get trapped under it. In there, he disintegrates, leaving only his skin (this human skin might be used by aliens but it isn’t very explicit).

Anyway, one day she ran into a guy suffering from neurofibromatosis (Adam Pearson), a tumor disorder, and offers him the first woman contact he never had, led him into her house but then spare his life. This encounter provoked something in her, triggering a particule of her humanity.

Now, about this opening, from start we are gravitating into space, among stars and planets, metaphorically implying we are inside one of her eyes. As soon as we quit this galaxy, we see naked Scarlett, taking clothes from a dead girl, in a timeless, spaceless white decor. The laying girl is actually a broken alien; a tear comes down to her face – when our leading lady finishes to dress – meaning that she felt something, something human, she let herself be exposed to human emotions. Thus we understand that if this alien, killing men, starts to feel something, she will die. A connection between two things are now possible. The eyes and the bikers. Indeed, the bikers are several men, mentoring alien women, making sure, by looking into their eyes, that there are still insensitive, cold.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 8.24.05 Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 9.04.02Director Jonathan Glazer, turned his sci-fi movie, into a film d’auteur, something powerful and poignant. A new way of representing aliens, reducing them, when exposed to human emotions and feelings, to trapped and scared animals. They aren’t familiar with their human bodies, and there is this beautiful scene, where our main character, looks into the mirror, naked, and explores the surface of her body, her movements, and muscles. And later she will learn that, sexual intercourses between aliens and humans aren’t possible, they aren’t compatible due to an extraterrestrial body that is not fit for that. To dig even deeper, we might link the penetration as something happening under the skin. And there are many phallic visual metaphors used by Glazer, especially when those bewitched men enter the house, enter a black hole, into the abyss of the female alien.

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However, this overwhelming loneliness that our protagonist is exposed to, is the most powerful and poignant thing. Scarlett Johansson gave her best performance, and proved her potential, or finally had been albe to. We empathize with her, and there is something disturbing, a sort of small fire of fear we can experience through out the film, that the actress is maintaining. We feel that something is not right, that she’s not belonging to this place, to this nature, that isn’t particularly friendly, but is rather threatening, and rejecting her in a way, like a body would reject an external material. Johansson gave a very physical performance, she expressed with her body, a body which reminded me of Motoko Kusanagi‘s, the cyborg of Ghost in the Shell.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 11.44.46Finally, Under the Skin is a beautiful movie, that deserves the patience of the spectator, deserves interest and concentration. It is all about symbolic and requires attention. It is a movie we observe more than we hear.

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The Fly – A perfectly remastered end of the 50’s movie

In 1958, a weird movie, named The Fly, was introduced by Kurt Neumann about a crazy experience, which led to a mad physical transformation, involving fly characteristics. Twenty-eight years later, David Cronenberg, of whom I am a fervent fan, decided to remake the insectophilic film of the latest 50’s, and adapt it to trendy genre of the middle 80’s, where sic-fi rose.

What I really appreciate in most of Cronenberg’s work, is his obsession with science, surgery, wounds, physical transformations, etc. He has this incredible, ability, to fluently turn something repulsive, disturbing, or even grotesque, into a pure form of art. And in The Fly, he once again succeeded in doing that.
Jeff Goldblum is embodying a scientist, Seth Brundle, who, seduced by a young journalist, Veronica Quaife (an interesting Geena Davis), decided to share with her, regardless of her job, his last inventions. Innovatives, future-changing machines allowing teleportation. He called them Telepods, and you could teleport an object from one telepod to the other. However, he had to improve them, to be able to pass the next level, and teleport flesh.

Is this all about a science-fiction, fantastic, gore movie, caricaturing the first progressive work in that genre? No, it is astonishingly about love. Seth and Veronica, finally came into having a relationship, and he allowed her to follow him into his work, and taking notes of all the discoveries and improvements he made on the telepods. Until, that very day, when, drunk, he decided to teleport himself, neglecting a little tiny flying detail. See, the telepods, can only teleport one body, or one object, not two, because it would trigger a fusion and not a teleportation of the two. And unfortunately for Seth, a fly entered his telepod, thus they merged, and little by little, he began to develop creepy, outstanding skills and physical transformations. Indeed, he obtained flies characteristics, such as walking on the walls, or sugar addiction. And this transformation, began to affect his relationship with Veronica.

As he continued to be more and more excited about his invention, and really become obsessed about his work, believing it has made him a new man, more energetic, he became wanting to teleport other people, and among them, Veronica. This one started to worry, but, this is also where, a surprising human sprinkle was added to the frame. Indeed, even though she was getting more and more scarred about this men, turning into God knows what, she also had less and less strength to leave him to this terrible fate, and the love she was bearing, never diminished. Yes, she got confused, and was wrapped into a strong despair not knowing what to do, and assisting to the awful transformation her lover was going through, but she never stopped loving him. And he neither, even though his love has turned into the need to merge also with her, as she turned to be carrying his baby. He wanted to created this ultimate stage where a family becomes one entity.

And that was the problem; the insect was taking over the man. Therefore you understand that the story is about how strong a relationship can be, and to how far a couple can go. And the fantastic aspect of the movie, could have been, Seth falling into drugs, alcoholism, or madness. Its a large issue, but held in the movie using a specific, unique and fictional case. And the film made me cry.

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Cronenberg with his poignant and brilliant cast, gave birth to a masterly handled remake, captivating, and as disturbingly monstrous as human. Is science leading us to a dystopian transformation of our relationships and daily lives in general? Almost twenty-eight years later now, we could answer yes, but this could still be a relatively modern movie dealing with pretty much the same issues of robotization, including the rise of technology and research. And it is indisputable, that our relationships have changed because of technology, and we are all addicted to it, to our cellphones, computers, tablets, everything allowing us to connect ourselves to the internet, to merge with it, and parties can now be spent with everybody on their smartphones.

Truth.

Oblivion – Falling into oblivion, it will.

Joseph Kosinski served us a post apocalyptic science fiction movie, on a rusty plate. No matter how bright, white, metallic, the environment is, everything seems rusty and has an acidic taste.

20130909-111754.jpgIn 2077, six decades passed since, a bunch of Aliens, the Scavengers, destroyed the Moon, which caused the destruction of the Earth, by earthquakes and tsunamis. Every human survivor had to leave and go to the Tet, a sort of space station, which is gaining power through the power stations installed in Earth.

Humans like Jack Harper (Tom Cruise, who still has a nice muscular body at 51 years old) and Vika Olsen (Andrea Riseborough, who’s frighteningly attractive in some scenes), under the orders of Sally, who gives them mission from the Tet, have to repair drones that are machines protecting those stations.

But Oblivion is focused on, alienation and, well… oblivion. During several nights, Jack is having the same dream in which a woman, he apparently, never saw, appeared. She hunted his thoughts and nights every time he closed his eyes. However, the “regulation” imposed by the Tet, is “to not remember”. They had been in a sort of artificial coma, that made them forget about their previous lives on Earth, and to do their job correctly, they had to ignore their past. Thus, they aren’t allowed to ask themselves or the others, any type of questions related to that. Didn’t they know our Tom Cruise, is in perpetual seek of knowledge?

And one day, he finally finds this woman, (Olga Kurylenko), and magic magic, remembers, more or less everything.

He saved her, as the drones tried to kill her entire crew (whereas they weren’t Scavengers) that crashed on Earth, and brought her, to the patio in which Vika and him were living.

But, jealousy is a very dangerous sin… and indeed, as Jack built a relationship with Vika though all this time together, she couldn’t stand this competition she didn’t had to worry about before. And there comes the real action, (or at least you hope it does).

The thing is, the story is pretty thin, and I know that a sci-fi is supposed to be unrealistic, or at least futuristic, though I’m sorry, I haven’t be bewitched by Kosinski blockbuster, nor convinced. The movie, might be wanting to be really symbolic, but it isn’t a reason to forget about the script and how it has to be sewed. The only really enjoyable symbol of the film, is at the end, when we finally meet the Tet, and find out it is a freaking huge uterus, lined with 40years old fetus, and the vaginal shape space station where Sally is supposed to be sitting. And then, you could make a link between all the women presented in the film, and their impacts, that are, most of the time, dangerous, stupid, or destructive. I salute the misogyny of the movie.

I shouldn’t have felt the need to pause the movie every 20 minutes, to go to the bathroom, grab something to eat, or watch through the window if something more interesting was happening in my yard, while I was wasting my time watching this too pretentious film. Because it is, pretentious. Kosinski gave excessive symbolic images implemented into a world where there’s no longer, clear time and space, assuming his movie was mesmerizing enough to make us want to masturbate our brain until we understand elements.

Well I’m sorry; the higher note I may give would be 2 out of 5. 1 for the last symbol, and 1 for the graphics.

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Blade Runner – A fantastic trip to 2019!

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I watched Blade Runner yesterday and re-watched it today to fully understand the end of Ridley Scott‘s SF movie. But I figured out, that a cult masterpiece like this one, deserved more than six projections. (I’m thinking of reading the book that Blade Runner was based on: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and I will.)

Artists always thought of stories, pantings, films taking place in the future. Well today, watching a movie like Blade Runner, or reading a book like 1984, seems too enthusiastic or too dramatic, however it was never too far from the truth. Now that we’re living in 2013, who says that in 6 years, there will not be shops on Earth that will be selling robots? We don’t know that, that’s what captured me on Blade Runner. These characters are representing a near future, it takes only one discovery, to change the whole world (as internet did).

In the movie, the city is fully transformed. Esthetically speaking, the decor in the movie is beautiful; in appearance it is a cosmopolite city, grouping influences from Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles (as it is supposed to take place into), the visual effects offered are delightful and that can’t be denied. But behind those futuristic giants buildings and their big screens, we can find older ones in decrepitude, and a population struggling against a capitalistic government, and economical issues, denounced by the film director. All this is not attractive, this is more a repulsive city, but it’s a mysterious one that could be deeply interesting to visit, and explore. Well, it is obvious that Scott is painting a roughly negative vision of the future, where technology will lead Humans to their death. And this is a great example of dystopia.

It had to remind me of David Cronenberg‘s work, and perhaps of eXistenZ with the same atmosphere, and issue, which is still technology.

The thing about Blade Runner, is that, we get to have ambiguous feelings about the “good and bad” people there. Tyrell Coporation, which is the creator industry of the Replicants (false humans), seemed to be the real bad, as for as they were the ones engendering the robots and in a way, make them suffer. From that sufferance, anger was born. But also, we experienced this need of yelling at the Replicants when they tried and killed humans, and at Rick Deckard (played by a brilliant Harrisson Ford) who is the ultimate Blade Runner, a solitary, always on his own, known to be a Replicants killing machine, for doing what he does.

From this character in particular we can deduce the message against individualization, a concept that will lead humans to a loss of their feelings and emotions, and of the concept of family. Which is interesting paradoxically to Deckard falling for a the most human Replicants: Rachael (Sean Young).

However, the most interesting character, is Roy Batty‘s one. The leader of the Nexus-6 Replicants, the most advanced ones.Despite his high intelligence, and skills, he is still learning how to deal with his emotions, and distinguished them from one another. He saw things, and try to understand his situation. He is the symbol of the new society.

Blade Runner, is one of a hell SF masterpiece, and deserved to be still going in 2019 and beyond.