Rossy de Palma : Alvaro Villarrubia

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Vasily Kandinsky
Blue (Blau)
1927
Oil on board

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Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013 UK)

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Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer, 2013, UK
I’ve seen Jonathan Glazer’s remarkably minimalistic and boldly modern conquest of sci-fi territory twice now, and I love that I still can’t conclude if its central female-like entity is an unknown being from a far-away galaxy above or the ominous pinnacle of our technological advancement here below. Like the monolith itself, “she” casts a cold, provoking shadow over the sci-fi genre, a predator whose conception seemingly begins with a series of eclipsing, pristine spherical objects constituting the film’s opening sequence. This, of course, is meant to recall similarly compelling imagery from 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as conflate with the same endless inquisition into mankind that film forged some forty years ago. But whereas Kubrick used images of merging celestial bodies to connect human intellectual progress with the outer limits of the physical universe, Glazer radically abstracts them in the opposite direction as if under a microscope, suggesting an imminent hand of design as these orbs congeal with surgical precision to bestow our unclassifiable lead with what was once an inimitable human organ. Scarlett Johansson—giving an expertly calibrated anti-performance that reorients all things removed and “alien” to much closer, intrinsic places—is key to how Under the Skin successfully does just that, a mysterious sentient whose sole mission involves the collection of male bodies for a grotesque greater purpose left up to our own speculation. Scenes of Johansson ensnaring unsuspecting men amidst a black, viscous void are both delectable in their saunter and brilliant in their simplicity, rendered all the more intense by Mica Levi’s inverted Greenwood/Herrmann-esque string-heavy score. These repeated scenes and their arthropodan-like seduction and “devouring” motifs stand out as the film’s most fascinating, unforgettable, and horrifying high point. What gives us an identity, what makes us human, and why we seem predetermined to exploit weakness are among sci-fi’s greatest questions that Glazer poses in exciting ways, knowing each function far better when withholding all fundamentally inadequate answers. But make no mistake, Under the Skin is first and foremost a sensorial experience concerned with instincts and our human flesh. Its inconclusiveness and respectful recollection of the genre’s lasting tropes promise this film—Glazer’s own pinnacle—will endure long after the tragic and grisly fate of his lonesome anti-hero, whose “own” fragile skin gradually serves as a terrifying harbinger of the brief shelf-life shared by all organic physical forms.

5/5

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Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013, UK)

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"Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity."
James Baldwin

Henning Kjærnulf | Armchair, ca 1962. Via 1 2

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Girl I saw your beaver flash.

Gerald Cotts’ cinematography in Putney Swope (1969)

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Director, producer, writer, editor, actor, photographer, and cinematographer Charles Burnett (born April 13, 1941)

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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961, USA)
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Camera
iPhone 4
ISO
1000
Aperture
f/2.8
Exposure
1/15th
Focal Length
3mm

Jean Dujardin and Jean-Paul Belmondo

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