Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα sci-fi. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα sci-fi. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Παρασκευή, 22 Αυγούστου 2014

Under the Skin (2013)

Director: Jonathan Glazer
Writers: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer, based on the novel by Michel Faber
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay 
Production: UK | USA | Switzerland
Duration: 108 mins

The thing I must begin with about this film is how much I admire the sophisticated way it is being made. From the story which doesn't reveal much - only through images - to the minimalistic score that accompanies the film and from the mesmerizing personality (and performance of Johanson) to the questions it lives unanswered, this  elegy on human behavior is beautifully unique. 

Johanson plays an alien on Earth, observing every move of human race in the cold and distant urban and natural Scottish landscape. The goal of this extraterrestrial, manifesting in human form, is to seduce and lure men to this substitute of a nest where there is nothing else but her and the pray. A room with a glassy surface where the horror that lies underneath gets revealed in slow breathtaking doses. 

From the first shots where she is trying to find her voice - tribute to "2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)" of Stanley Kubrick - and is being created into something more human alike, we are introduced into this cold and distant world. Which is our world through their eyes. The way the aliens see the humans and the way Johanson, the hunter, lures them to the nest, provoke frustrated emotions. Firstly because of how she observes everything, how we walk, how we behave, how we act. Secondly because of the cruelty these aliens share. The insensitivity with which they treat humans, the cold and surgical way they act. It is quite horrifying.   

Johanson is not alone. The bikers are her assistants, the ones who will clean up any mess that might be created via the hunting. The obvious structure in their small society gives the feeling that they work mostly based on their nature. Johanson hunts using her attractive human body and the bikers help her stay on track and clean up any further casualties. No distractions, no remorse, no compassion. 

They work based on their plans and based on their basic needs; to hunt, to feed, to retain their human mask, their human skin. Through Johanson's eyes we observe too. We are looking at how she, the alien, sees our world. How scary it looks, how remote. And she has to bring the food to the nest. She has the hardest task. Through these long observations she absorbs information in how to be polite and flirtatious, how to mingle in this world. She shows amazing strength and patience in order to be even more successful in her hunting. 

But at some point she starts losing her goal. She begins observing herself more than her pray. She is fascinated by what she sees, her body, her perfect skin. The interest she grows for humans is now a little bit personal. She tries to act like them, to be like them, she has a curiosity that goes beyond her mission. She will discover the goodness in these humans, the thing that separates them from other beings, but also the bad side. This self-discovery will prove very important for the course of her life. 

What is being shown here is something more an experience than a film. You need to let yourself forget any kind of expectations and just dive into this peculiar, enigmatic world. There is very little dialog, very few explanations. The colors that are being used to show some feelings are unique. The cold blue and black of the night and the sea to show the distant nature of those aliens, the gray palette accompanied by yellow rays of fear when being among humans in this strange society of theirs and the warm colors when she begins getting to know this species through her own self. 

The director doesn't care for giving answers. He just keeps raising more questions that provoke so many disturbing feelings, a way of storytelling that actually helps you get closer to your own human nature. Your basic emotion palette from curiosity and reassurance travels to something like terror and horror, which leads to some surprise and compassion, only to end in disgust, some relief and an eternal wonder of what you have just experienced. 

'Under the Skin' is the film that will trouble you, maybe even tire you with some very long sequences, but you just need to let go and allow yourself to be overwhelmed by what unfolds in front of you. Let this eerie feeling take you over and maybe you will find the answers you were looking for. Become an observer yourself and you might be able to see "under the skin"




Τρίτη, 18 Ιουνίου 2013

Seeking a friend for the end of the world (2012)

Direction: Lorene Scafaria
Script: Lorene Scafaria
Acting: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Melanie Lynskey
Production: USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia
Duration: 101 min

Following the global movie production wave that makes countless sci-fi movies a year, “Seeking a friend for the end of the world” deals with something different than the end of the world itself. Human beings need to understand and accept their minimal existence in this universe in order to endure and live their last days on Earth with someone they love and not fight the un - fightable.

The story-line follows a 40 year-old married man, Dodge, who after the announcement of the forthcoming asteroid, named “Matilda” that would cause the not reversing end of the world, he finds himself dumped by his wife, three weeks before the upcoming end.

Suddenly all his life flashes in front of his eyes and he discovers that, since there will be no world to live in, he should follow the true desires of his heart, and that is to find his high school love, his first true love.

This idea though, was given to him by his neighbor, Penny, who crushes into his place and realizes that she was withdrawing his mail. There he will find a love letter from his first love that will give him the extra push to do something he would never do before.

The whole atmosphere is about doing what you would never do before, since everybody on earth is aware of the upcoming end. Drugs, sleeping with anyone you like without protection, not following the law, doing heroine on parties are only particles of the outrageous level of freedom that exists three weeks before the asteroid hits Earth.

The movie is trying to show with brutal honesty, how it would really be if a more plausible scenario of an asteroid hitting Earth would occur, instead of some aliens destroying whole cities. The human brain here is presented as a coin; it only has two sides, either you can be depressed and probably kill yourself or be extremely happy and satisfied with the life you have lived, enjoying your last days with people you love.

The truth is it puts you into that thinking box, making you force yourself to imagine what you would do if all this was really happening. And probably you would find yourself wondering about the answer for hours, when the truth is you have absolutely no clue.

Penny, Dodge’s crazy British neighbor has a story of her own. She lives far away from her home and her parents, she has a dead-end relationship, she smokes weed all day and she feels terribly guilty towards Dodge about withholding the letters he should have received. They will start together an adventurous trip based on Penny’s guilt, only to realize at the end that the only thing they both really want is to have a friend for the end of the world.

The first half of this different sci-fi movie is actually really promising, with jokes and lines, situations that cause your curiosity levels to rise. On the second half though, you notice a terrible slowdown of the narration, like the director didn't really have something else to show you. Like the script ended there and they just improvised on set, without even trying to make it less obvious!

The scenario is dry; there is nothing to hold on, except making normal scenes really long just to fill up your time. There are certain ways in cinematography where you can make a good usage of a long scene and transfer the tension or any other feeling you want to transfer. The way Lorene Scafaria does it here makes you want to jump of your seat and scream: “Move on!”

Destroying completely the feeling that gives on the first half, “Seeking a friend for the end of the World” doesn't really offer something more to your thinking brain, except some hackneyed topics, like the importance of love in life. Didn't you know that already?


The movie could have the chance to stand by itself into the pantheon of sci-fi cinema, just by being so simple and romantic, if only it had a completed script. The scientific explanations that have blown people’s minds before in other movies now mean nothing. So in the emergence of different sci-fi cinema, “Seeking a friend for the end of the World” has lost its position.