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Entries in Under the Skin (30)

Tuesday
Jan062015

Curio: Under Their Skin

Alexa here with your weekly film art and craft. Nathaniel is not alone in the way Under The Skin (his pick for the top film of 2014) slid into his consciousness: every day there are more and more indie posters cropping up celebrating the the film's special hypnosis.  It is second only to The Grand Budapest Hotel as the most posterized film of 2014 (but Wes takes that prize every year). Here are my favorite visual celebrations of the film so far; I'll be streaming it for the umpteenth time today to continue the mood (thanks to Margaret's Amazon Prime tip).

fan posters after the jump 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec252014

Top Ten Movies from 2014 You Should Catch Up With on Streaming

Margaret here, reporting from the warmth of the family home. In between gift-exchanging and major cooking projects, I'm going to be trying to catch up on as many 2014 movies as possible. For those of us without much time to run to the multiplex, there are plenty of options among recent acquisitions on streaming services. While most of the showiest would-be awards contenders are either still in theaters or holding off on their DVD releases, there are plenty of buzzy (and possibly even soon to be Oscar-nominated) movies available for the couch-bound.

Honorable Mention: Slow-burn crime drama Night Moves (Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning) and Baltimore dirt-biker documentary 12 O'Clock Boys, both on Amazon Prime; Mind-bending relationship dramedy The One I Love (Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass) and low-key Swanberg indie Happy Christmas (Anna Kendrick, TFE favorite Melanie Lynskey), both on Netflix Instant.

 

10. Stranger By The Lake (Netflix Instant) This French erotic thriller had critics raving at the beginning of the year, though it hasn't been in much of the end-of-year conversation.

9. Nymphomaniac, parts 1 and 2 (Netflix Instant) Lars von Trier's latest provocation, served in two parts, is not for the faint of heart but is for anyone who wants to see Uma Thurman rip a scene apart in part 1.

8. Enemy (Amazon Prime) Celebrate our Year of Gyllenhaal with double the Jake in his second collaboration with Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve. It's been called "what might happen if someone let Terrence Malick make a "Twilight Zone" episode, with a quick rewrite by David Cronenberg." 

7. Blue Ruin (Netflix Instant) This grim, ultra-budget indie thriller is up for the Independent Spirit's John Cassavetes Award, given to an outstanding picture made for under 500K. Come for the revenge story, stay for the unsettlingly realistic gore.

 

6. We Are The Best! (Netflix Instant) This early-80s-Stockholm-set dramedy about three middle-grade girls who form a punk band irrespective of actual musical gifts has been cropping up on many a top-ten list, and has been widely praised for its infectious joyful spirit.

5. Locke (Amazon Prime) A tense one-man show, this claustrophobic thriller hangs completely on a star turn from Tom Hardy, who's earned TFE raves and even has Brad Pitt stumping for him at industry screenings.

4. The Immigrant (Netflix Instant) The fact that the Weinsteins are giving this sweeping period the redheaded stepchild treatment and dropping it from their campaign slate shouldn't keep you from checking it out. You, too, can join in the mass internet grumble over its being overlooked at the Oscars for Best Actress, Best Score, and Best Cinematography prizes. (It may yet take home some Independent Spirit Awards!)

3. Snowpiercer (Netflix Instant) Critics have been all over the brutal, absurd, and entirely original dystopian action film. It's a dark horse for Supporting Actress with Tilda Swinton's bonkers performance, and full to the brim with memorable setpieces. Don't be a shoe; watch it!

 

2. Under the Skin (Amazon Prime) The atmospheric alien fever dream has a legion of ardent fans, and is the hip moviegoer's choice for a top-ten-list entry guaranteed not to repeat at the Oscars. Guaranteed to be among the most visually memorable movies you see all year.

1. Ida (Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant) This little movie has been an awards magnet, and may well make a smooth trip to the Best Foreign film Oscar come February. Since it's present on two major streaming services and clocks in at a mere 80 minutes, there's no excuse not to catch up with this starkly beautiful and poignant Polish drama. 

Which movies are you planning to catch up with from home? Have any additional streaming recommendations?

Tuesday
Dec232014

Scarlett Johansson, 2014's MVP

Year in Review. Two yummy look backs each day

Tim here. Among its many charms and disappointments, 2014 was an extraordinarily good year to be a fan of Scarlett Johansson.

No, I can go bigger than that: 2014 was a year that could make somebody a fan of Scarlett Johansson in the first place, or in my case, knock the dust off a fandom that had been growing stale over the last several years.

What makes it such a particularly interesting year to have watched the actress is the way that three of her four performances released in the United States in ’14 are variations on each other (the outlier is what amounts to cameo in Chef, more of a favor done for director Jon Favreau than a real part). Let’s take a quick look at each of them:

Under the Skin
In a holdover from the 2013 festival season Johansson played a non-human being in the human form of a gorgeous woman under the guiding hand of director Jonathan Glazer. Icy good looks married to a deliberately unknowable inner life pretty neatly describes the opinion that tends to be held on Johansson’s acting skills by people who don’t like her, which makes this, on the one hand, an easy casting decision. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec092014

Online Film Critics Society Have Got 'Mommy' Issues

Well this is a pleasant surprise!

Glenn here with a look at the slate of nominees that the Online Film Critics Society sent our way today. You can thank me for a smidgen of the rather wonderful list since I am a member. The cynical person that I am assumed group think and the homogeny of the pack would give us the usual suspects, but the OFCS blessedly included some curveballs and left of field choices that should make the AFI and other singularly Oscar-hunting awards bodies look foolish. Let's take a look.

 

BEST PICTURE

  • BOYHOOD
  • THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
  • IDA
  • THE LEGO MOVIE
  • MOMMY
  • NIGHTCRAWLER
  • SELMA
  • TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT
  • WHIPLASH
  • UNDER THE SKIN

This being an online critics organisation, they are going to lean a little bit to the "cool" side of things. Having said that, only four of the organisation's nominations for Best Picture are likely going to get correlating Oscar nominees - they could be Boyhood, Grand Budapest, Selma and Whiplash. The rest of the list is spectacularly diverse with three foreign language films, a semi-experimental sci-fi, a creepy genre thriller, and the other meta-superhero flick from 2014. Speaking of which, the omission of Birdman is as surprising as it is delightful. I mean, I like the movie, and certainly much more than Whiplash, but I have no qualms with it missing for the sake of Xavier Dolan's Mommy. Not one bit.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec062014

Boston Critics Regain Their Mojo: Pierce 'Snow' and 'Skin'

CORRECTION & APOLOGY: I had originally stated these were the winners for the Boston Society of Film Critics, a group with a long fascinating history. Unfortunately, as is all too common these days these prizes are from an upstart critics group from the same city, the Boston Online Film Critics Association*.

The young BOFCA (now in its third year) seem to have issued some sort of challenge to the far more famous BSFC. The BSFC has had a place of honor in critics circles in that, for many years of their history, they seemed less interested in the Oscar race than actually offering an opinion on the best of a given film year which is, we unfortunately need reminding, the entire purpose of critical year-end prizes. In recent years their choices have seemed as Oscar driven as 90% of the critics groups that exist today. So perhaps the younger organization will remind them of their roots in iconoclastic choices?

The new group has taken the entire year into account, and given December the shrug but for two prizes for the Belgian film Two Days One Night (adding another feather in Marion Cotillard's cap after her NYFCC win). 

PICTURE: Snowpiercer
DIRECTOR: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
ACTOR: Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Edward Norton, Birdman
SCREENPLAY: John Michael McDonagh, Calvary
FOREIGN FILM: Two Days One Night

DOCUMENTARY: Life Itself
ANIMATED FILM: The LEGO Movie
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Birdman 
EDITING: James Herbert & Laura Jennings, Edge of Tomorrow
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mica Levi, Under the Skin

 THE BOSTON ONLINE FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NAMES THEIR TEN BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR:

  1. SNOWPIERCER
  2. UNDER THE SKIN
  3. BOYHOOD
  4. ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
  5. THE BABADOOK
  6. TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
  7. BIRDMAN
  8. CALVARY
  9. INHERENT VICE
  10. SELMA

 * P.S. Again my apologies. I would not have given this organization and entire post to themselves had I realized they were a new group. The fact remains that no matter how interesting your choices, each city does not need multiple competing critics groups. And the proliferation of so many new groups, correctly or incorrectly, suggests that they are formed by people who cannot get into the pre-existing group. I don't know if this is the case in Boston but with the walls having all but vanished between Print and Online there seems little point in "Online" organizations these days as all former print sources are now online.