And yet. Like many goofballs, I can’t turn away. It’s like playing craps in one of the less reputable Vegas casinos, in downtown rather than on the Strip.
Under The Skin
As I catch up on movies from the last year that I missed in theaters, it’s increasingly clear that all the laments about 2014 being a bad one for film are total nonsense.
The list of excellent movies, or at least the one I’m working on, keeps growing: leaving aside the quiet awards juggernaut of Boyhood (all deserved), that list already includes the tense revelations of Blue Ruin and Calvary, James Gray’s monumental The Immigrant, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Pynchon-noir Inherent Vice … not to mention Ida, Under The Skin, Wetlands, Obvious Child, Noah, and We Are The Best!
It’s awards season, and there’s no shortage of commentary. I might chime in myself in a few weeks. (Spoilers: Boyhood, Ida, The Immigrant, Under The Skin, and Noah would win all the things if it were up to me, and Uma Thurman would get a best Supporting Actress nod for Nymphomaniac Vol 1 — it is not, it turns out, up to me.)
But I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some of the best movies I saw this year which won’t be winning awards, primarily because some of them are from nearly 100 years ago.
The weird abstractions and head-scratching symbolism of Under The Skin probably account for its not-entirely enthusiastic reception, but they’re also its strongest feature.
Along with Scarlett Johansson’s fascinatingly cryptic and brave performance, which continues her recent (and welcome) foray into challenging roles that foreground and then subvert audience expectations, these imagistic themes demand engagement and interpretation, and nothing is made particularly easy.