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Jonathan Glazer (#110 of 8)

Check Out the Official U.S. Trailer and Poster for Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin

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Check Out the Official U.S. Trailer and Poster for Jonathan Glazer’s <em>Under the Skin</em>
Check Out the Official U.S. Trailer and Poster for Jonathan Glazer’s <em>Under the Skin</em>

When cinephiles discuss films of the aughts that were mysteriously unloved or misunderstood, a title that often comes up is Jonathan Glazer’s Birth, a taboo tale crudely summarized as one of resurrection and cradle-robbing love. It was a bold work that required time for its formal merits to be processed and appreciated; however, few of its champions probably thought that they’d have to wait so long for a follow-up from the director. It’s been 10 whole years since Birth first bewitched us, and only now is the next entry in Glazer’s oeuvre within reach. Starring Scarlett Johansson in a performance that’s netting her international raves, Glazer’s Under the Skin looks to be an elliptical sci-fi flick of Kubrickian proportions, taking an intoxicatingly artful approach to the Species formula of a sexy, predatorial female alien (Johansson) roaming the earth. Yesterday, the film’s official cosmic one-sheet debuted. Today, A24 released its first U.S. trailer.

Toronto International Film Festival 2013 Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin

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Toronto International Film Festival 2013: Under the Skin
Toronto International Film Festival 2013: Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s first film since 2004’s Birth, Under the Skin has discernible reference points (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Chris Cunningham’s Rubber Johnny), and yet, this peculiar film is the most original feature at Toronto, and possibly of this year. It operates within a sublime netherworld immediately recognizable as being sprung from Glazer’s imagination, where, previously, the soul of a man was reborn in a 10-year-old boy and caused woman to nearly lose her mind, and before that, where a frightening, oft-hilarious psychopath wreaked havoc on the sanity of a man suffering an existential crisis over his former life as a criminal.

Now, in the gray, desolate coldness of Scotland, an extraterrestrial played by Scarlett Johansson seduces young Scottish men into a black hole where they meet a most unusual death. Given her pouty, coral-pink lips, chic black bob, alluring friendliness, and voluptuous breasts, the alien siren has little difficulty luring men back to “her place,” a decrepit building that, once inside, resembles the blanketing black nothingness of a virtual training game from The Matrix. Here, she walks into the darkness while slowly disrobing, the men following suit, unaware that the closer they reach her, the deeper they step into a never-ending inky ocean that swallows them whole.

Top 10 Radiohead Music Videos

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Top 10 Radiohead Music Videos

Alex Lake/Nasty Little Man

Top 10 Radiohead Music Videos

Exactly 20 summers ago, the world was introduced to Radiohead by way of their debut single, “Creep.” Thom Yorke and company may have soured to their very first modern rock hit, but as we said in our list of the Best Singles of the 1990s, for which the song ranked at #37, “Creep” is rivaled only by “Every Breath You Take” as the ultimate kind-of-obsessive/kind-of-romantic crush anthem, with guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s perfectly timed blasts of electricity turning it from slightly creepy to threatening. The track peaked on the Billboard pop chart in September of 1993, a full year after its initial release, and Radiohead would go on to become one of the most influential bands in rock history. On the eve of this anniversary, we take a look back at the group’s best and most innovative music videos.

A Hostage to Fortune Barry Forshaw’s British Crime Film: Subverting the Social Order

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A Hostage to Fortune: Barry Forshaw’s British Crime Film: Subverting the Social Order
A Hostage to Fortune: Barry Forshaw’s British Crime Film: Subverting the Social Order

Barry Forshaw has made a career out of studying the dames, pistols, machismo, and glistening city streets that define crime fiction; with previous books such as Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction and The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction seeking to provide a comprehensive survey of the genre, he’s made himself, to quote the book jacket of British Crime Film: Subverting the Social Order, “the UK’s principal expert on crime fiction.” Of course, film ain’t fiction, so to speak, and his first book length effort on crime films is like a Webley revolver with a sticky trigger; it works, just not as fluidly or efficiently as one would like. With fairly cursory critical discussions, perpetual plot synopses, and adjective-driven lauding (“an acidulous commentary on class” or “a masterclass in film acting,” to name a couple) in place of detail-driven social criticism, Forshaw has placed himself between a Brighton Rock (1947) and a Kill List (2011), casting his historical net too wide for anything more than introductory textual assessment.

Forshaw is a straight shooter from his first sentence, a question: “Is it possible to read a nation through its popular entertainment?” From there, 15 chapters organized by theme and content rather than chronology attempt to map out British crime filmmaking’s genesis, essentially commencing with early Alfred Hitchcock thrillers (and Criterion Collection staples) The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938) to demonstrate “that Britain’s long tradition of crime cinema may offer a more nuanced, intelligent and politically informed analysis of British society from the 1920’s onwards than more overtly respectable ’heritage’ cinema.” Serving as his thesis, Forshaw proceeds to discuss hundreds of films (the book is thoroughly researched) on the grounds of subversive elements, from politics (Basil Dearden’s The League of Gentlemen, from 1960), to violence (Peter Medak’s The Krays, from 1990), and homosexuality (Basil Dearden’s Victim, from 1961). The problem is that Forshaw spends only a page or two on each film; by the time he’s given a rough summation of the narrative, his attention to its subversive social qualities is short changed by his self-admitted “celebratory” stance on the subject matter.

Why Is This Film Called Birth?: Investigating Jonathan Glazer’s Mystery of the Heart

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Why Is This Film Called Birth?: Investigating Jonathan Glazer’s Mystery of the Heart
Why Is This Film Called Birth?: Investigating Jonathan Glazer’s Mystery of the Heart

“We aimed to make something robust in which every question leads to another. I’m not a Buddhist and I don’t believe in reincarnation; I don’t think I could do a film about it if I did. I was more interested in the idea of eternal love. I wanted to make a mystery, the mystery of the heart.”—Jonathan Glazer

You know you’re seeing something special from the very beginning.