Monday, February 9, 2015


It's quite amazing to see a major Hollywood draw like Scarlett Johansson take chances with her cosy and marketable persona and give herself over to roles that go well beyond viewer expectations.  This year she did it twice, with Jonathan Glaser's UNDER THE SKIN and Luc Bresson's LUCY,  the former a simmering take on alienation, loneliness, and mercy,  the latter a transcendent science fiction flick disguised as a beta-fied action movie. Physics and physicality , and  desire as a kind of alien processing don't really seem like blockbuster source material to me, but both conceits work and expand well beyond anyone's hopes. And that a star of Johansson's caliber would show copious amounts of frontal nudity (in UNDER THE SKIN) is just as surprising a career move. Mica Levi's score for that film should also be mentioned for its harrowing massed strings and electronic textures,  colluding with the film's imagery to produce a series of chilling dioramas (much like Marcel Duchamp's final work, "Etant donnes"). It's a head-scratcher,  and one that needs to seen more than once and spoken about. Forget the Oscar dreck. See these two films instead.

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