Video on Demand Report: Bring ‘Under the Skin’ Home — At Your Own Peril
Under the Skin
Next weekend sees Scarlett Johansson starring in Luc Besson’s Lucy, as a woman who’s been granted superhuman powers that she uses to rampage through Taipei controlling people with her mind.
Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) directs Johansson in Under the Skin, which he adapted, with Walter Campbell, from Michel Faber’s novel of the same name. In it, Johansson plays a young woman (… of sorts?) whose name and point of origin are unknown, but who has an unusual mission: driving a van around Scotland, picking up dudes, seducing them, and sucking their guts to some other dimension.
The film has been praised for its haunting visuals and has already made it onto at least one publication’s list of the best films of the first half of 2014. But if that’s not enough to pique your interest, you should also know that Johansson gets REAL NAKED.
Wesley Morris: “Glazer’s made an icy thriller of ontological and existential proportions. What does it mean to be human, to be alive? In Johansson he has a star who doesn’t fear being a repository of those questions. She’s at her peak as an actor right now, and, at the movies, all of her great work lately involves the power of her body.”
New and Notable
Don’t let Teenage’s title dissuade you from watching it! From what I can tell, actual teenagers have surprisingly little to do with it.
Matt Wolf’s documentary on the concept of teenagerhood, and how it evolved into a phase of life distinct from childhood and adulthood, has been praised at festivals for its unique style: It blends archival footage with original scenes to illustrate its story. It also features the voice talents of Ben Whishaw (as “British Boy”) and Jena Malone (“American Girl”).
Early/“In Theaters” Releases
When I saw this trailer in the theater a couple of weeks ago, it looked like just about the weirdest, most incomprehensible idea for a movie I’d seen all year. Now that I know what it’s about … my view hasn’t really changed.
In The Congress — a hybrid live-action/animated feature from Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman — Robin Wright plays “Robin Wright,” an actor growing unemployable both because of her bad reputation and her advancing age. She sells the rights to her digital image for use in future films in which she’ll have no actual involvement … which is fine, until 20 years hence, when a Second Life–style virtual reality arrives, and the studio that bought her life rights wants to let normals appear in it using her digital image as an avatar. Turns out this is not so cool for her. (Available on VOD before its theatrical release.)
A Brony Tale
There was a time when Bronies — adult male fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, an animated series based on the eponymous dolls and targeted to children — may have been considered a joke in the world of fandom. That was probably before they became the subject of not one but two documentary feature films.
Coming a year after the release of Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, A Brony Tale tackles the same phenomenon from a different angle (and is available to rent the same day as its theatrical release). Filmmaker Brent Hodge’s point of entry is the perspective of Ashleigh Ball, a voice performer who plays two characters in the TV series. The film covers her intersection with the brony fandom and how it’s affected her life.
Video Games: The Movie
There are some (me) who would tell you that the world of video games has already been featured in a near-perfect documentary feature, so any others that would come later are completely extraneous. But if you’ve already watched The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters a few dozen times, maybe you can afford to branch out.
On demand simultaneous with its theatrical release, Video Games: The Movie takes more of a historical survey approach to the video-game industry, from Pong to Portal, and features interviews with luminaries in the field.