SPOILER WARNING!!! THIS DISCUSSES AND GIVES AWAY VIRTUALLY ALL OF UNDER THE SKIN IN SUCH GREAT DETAIL AND IT WILL SPOIL ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING — INCLUDING INTERPRETATIONS — OF THE FILM. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM.
So I’ve seen Under the…
OMG. So I updated by analysis of Under the Skin yet again. I just watched it for the 21st time (literally; I’ve counted). Now I’ve added more details to Laura’s clothes and character development such as her subtle reaction to the beach scene late in the film, as well as added to other parts of the analysis to make it even more thorough.
The One I Love Review — Written 9/14/14
I knew nothing about this movie going into it, which is extremely rare for me. I went to a 5:00 showing on a Sunday afternoon, and in turn, I got one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. I personally recommend that you go into this knowing virtually nothing like I did, but it wouldn’t ruin your viewing experience or anything if you did. So, full disclosure ahead, I’m going including spoilers, but I think that it’d be better to go in knowing nothing since none of the synopses that I’ve seen actually fully tell the plot.
Anyways, this movie is pretty great. I know that this sounds like a super weird comparison, but it reminded me of a cross between “Twelfth Night” and The Twilight Zone or a “monster-of-the-week” episode of The X-Files. It looks and starts like a rather standard romantic comedy (but it’s actually funny, so that’s already a plus), but instead turns into something much more unique.
The acting is very good: both Duplass and Moss give realistic performances while injecting subtle differences due to the fact that each of them plays two different characters (to an extent). The script gives us smart characters that don’t do stupid things solely to move the plot along, and the pacing is good. It’s 91 minutes, but doesn’t feel like it’s too short. As the movie slowly unravels itself, it becomes more and more interesting, but never becomes tonally inconsistent. It does its job very well and stays modest throughout, mostly due to its humor.
It wouldn’t quite make it onto my list of the best films of 2014 because I wouldn’t say that it holds the analysis-worthy rewatches that Enemy demanded earlier this year (which this film did remind me of to a certain extent), but it does have some interesting views on relationships and marriage. It’s a great indie that you should try to catch if you can, specifically in a theater as opposed to on streaming or in the ancillary market.
8.6/10, great, (almost) two thumbs up, far above average, etc.
The Skeleton Twins Review — Written 9/13/14
So we probably all know how likable and adorable Kristen Wiig is, but Bill Hader? Holy crap. I would have never expected him to be this good. He and Wiig play off of each other so well and everything comes off as terrifically realistic, both in terms of comedy and drama. The two of them capture sibling love (and angst) incredibly well, and combined with the steady direction and pacing, it all makes it a great treat.
The main performances, including Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell, are sympathetic and relatable, whether or not the characters’ decisions are respectable. Bill Hader, as stated earlier, is terrific. I always liked him and found him to be funny, but holy crap, he can do drama really well. He’s still very funny, but has a great sense of balancing emotions and coming off a fully realized character as opposed to the traditional gay character that is satirized here. No one here is a characterture. Kristen Wiig goes further past her bits of well done dramatic moments showcased in Bridesmaids, showing a genuine sense of vulnerability throughout.
I teared up at parts, but it wasn’t like the filmmakers were manipulating the audience’s emotions. The script is solid and deals with some very heavy issues in an ernest manner without ever resorting to exploitation, and even what could be thought of as tropes on paper completely work onscreen thanks to the extremely natural chemistry between everyone and the film’s fleeting sense of self-aware humor regarding its genre’s trappings.
Being a person with three older sisters, this movie is a great representation of siblinghood. My only real problem is that despite the very good pacing throughout, its ending seems a bit too quick and two characters’ stories don’t seem to be as tidied up as they could have been. Otherwise, this is one of the best movies of 2014 so far.
8.7/10, terrific, two thumbs up, far above average, etc.
This is why I don’t trust salespeople.
Frank Review — Written 9/10/14
This movie is weird. It’s endearing, but it’s very weird. Not Kubrick-weird or artsy, but endearing in its originality that stems from its weirdness. When you have a movie about a guy that wears a fake head at all times, it’s easy for the movie to be cynical towards its characters, but it’s respectful instead. There are funny jabs at bruting musicians and social media, but it’s lighthearted.
The movie knows what tone to carry when - especially given the rather dark places that this movie goes to - but its tonal shifts are too extreme and quick to make without coming off as a bit jarring. The actors are all terrific: Fassbender balances subtly with weirdness, Gyllanhaal is deadpan and funny, and Gleeson does well with having to be a character existing to make the film accessible to audiences. It’s between the kindness of its characters and the acting that makes the film really interesting when it comes to characterization.
However, I wish that certain character arcs were elaborated on, as they seemed to be based more off of ideas than fully executed ideas, at least from a writing standpoint. On another note (no pun intended), the music is good. It’s horrible when it wants to be stupid, but us actually very good otherwise. I’d be open to buying the soundtrack. This will probably grow on me with time, but I still really liked it. I appreciate thing that are different, and this movie definitely is.
8.3/10, very good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
Life After Beth Review — Written 9/6/14
Judging by the reviews, I was a bit sad because I was really looking forward to this. I absolutely love Aubrey Plaza and the rest of the cast is solid, so my interested was no fully deterred. And I’m happy that I went, because while it isn’t like this is a great movie, it’s fun and funny throughout.
It’s shaky at its start, but the script is serviceable and has some weird and funny ideas (like a neighborhood watch patrolman that’s always looking for excuses to shoot people) and the cast elevates what doesn’t completely work. Aubrey Plaza is, as always, terrific, and completely commits to the role, which really does help the film itself. The movie revels in its weirdness, almost becoming farcical at times, which is where the direction works.
Combined with the actors - namely Dane DeHaan, who is actually very good at comedy - it has a nice energy about it. The direction doesn’t always work, though; this is Jeff Baena’s directorial debut and you can tell. It just feels off at times and there are some odd music and timing choices, but it’s still entertaining and, again, the cast is very good.
It isn’t brilliant and it isn’t like it’s at the level of Shaun of the Dead (which it is fairly indebted to), but I chuckled a lot and laughed out loud a fair amount of times, and I cared about what happened.
7.1/10, good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
Love Is Strange Review — Written 9/5/14
I knew next to nothing about this movie beside its basic concept and the acclaim that it has garnered. I was happy to see a movie with a gay couple that isn’t actually about a gay couple, and there are some moments of beauty, both in aesthetics and simplicity. The two leads are very good, and those are what give this movie the life that it has, but otherwise, it’s too slow to make an impact.
This movie is 94 minutes and it feels like it’s well over two hours. It’s incredibly slow, and this is coming from someone who idolizes Sofia Coppola and considers Eyes Wide Shut and Under the Skin to be among their favorite films of all time. Here, there are glimmers of interest occasionally, and then they vanish.
I appreciate what they went for, especially in today’s over-saturated market of explosion-fests, but it didn’t work as well as it good have, or as well as other current indies have. Hats off to its realism, though.
6.5/10, okay, average, one thumb down, etc.