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Under The Skin (2013): Film Review

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Under The Skin is a 2013 Drama/Fantasy film starring actress Scarlett Johansson and directed by Jonathan Glazer

Budget: 13.3 million USD

Box Office: 7.2 million USD

IMDb: 6.3/10           Roger Ebert: 4/4           Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

I give it: 4/5

Under the Skin is a 2013 production that belongs to the sci-fi genre. However, most viewers of the film agree that the film breaks away from some of the most common factors seen in Sci-fi films. When the words “Sci-fi” or “Science Fiction” are mentioned, people almost automatically think of Oscar winning blockbusters like Gravity (2013) or Interstellar (2014). That, or their mind shifts towards Star Wars (1977-still going strong) or Star Trek the famous TV series (1968) that’s also been made into a film series. Notice the words “Stars” as the shared elements between the two titles. This is due to the fact that for such a long time, science fiction films have been associated with galaxies, stars, extra celestial beings, life on different planets…etc. However, Under the Skin presents itself as an astoundingly unconventional sci-fi film with no Space fights or laser beams whatsoever. Under The Skin is a sci-fi film that takes place on Earth, Scotland; to be specific.

The story is about a mysterious nameless woman played by Johansson, who roams the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, hunting for men who she lures in with her vibrant sexuality then eats, not literally. Eventually, we understand that Scarlett Johansson is an alien who’s completely disconnected from normal human emotions and feelings.

That, of course, doesn’t in anyway mean that Under the Skin is free of the mesmerizing visuals we find in sci-fi films. In fact, the film is packed with them but it does so in the most avant-garde way possible, establishing itself as a visionary science fiction film rather than a movie about colorful creatures fighting each other for entertainment reasons. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this specific kind of pleasurable and humorous films isn’t needed. But every now and again, it is refreshing to find a film rising from a certain genre, altering the peoples’ view of it.

Until this very day, some people still believe that a true, genuine sci-fi flick has to have certain elements and iconographies in order to be listed under the sci-fi genre. However, I believe that is a common mistake that societies tend to make when exposed to a certain constant, unchanging thing or nature for so long that they forget that it can be altered or reformed.

The opening scene of Under the Skin is very important, as it has been directly linked to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey numerable times. The scene is viewed as a reference to 2001. The story opens with a black screen and a white dot in the middle that keeps growing until it overtakes the whole screen with its blinding brightness, followed by a cosmic close up, followed by a close up of an eye. All this is happening while a score that is so similar to that of 2001 is playing and a woman (Johansson’s voice) is mumbling incomprehensible words. This scene establishes the viewer’s understanding that he/she’s about to go on a journey rather than watch a film that he/she might forget after. The sequence also sets the scene for what’s to come. In a sense, this scene is a perfect opener, enlightening its spectators that they’re in for a film that is more concerned with building atmosphere than it is with multifaceted plot or dialogue.

There’s only one main character and one star in this film and that is Scarlett Johansson. Her character is of an alien who lands in Scotland and takes form on Earth as a very beautiful and very seductive young woman. Johansson’s character displays an absence of empathy. Another important aspect when it comes to the characters of the film is that some of the men Johansson chats with are real actual passers by who have no idea they’re talking to a huge movie star or that they’re being filmed. Johansson drives the van herself and the scene is shot in hours on end.

The narrative content of the film is innately sexual as it focuses on a woman luring in men using her sexuality, beauty and body in order to then use them for her own special purposes. The film makes great use of the documentary style to
the extent that what you see as a reality on screen is almost too relatable that it initially becomes uncomfortable to watch. In contrast to this amount of reality thrown in your face, comes the way more cinematic and stylistic filming style, which dominates a large part of the film. Consequently, this filming style juxtaposes against the realism of the very realistic scenes. The film’s music is almost perfect. It’s horrifying, alarming, disturbing and startling in every way.

The whole film feels like one long dream/nightmare where everything is familiar yet, seems strangely odd. Where places that echo with safety now vibrate with anxiety and fear. Under the Skin reminds us that cinema is the closest thing we have to dreaming without actually being asleep. Remarkably, the director manages to take the feeling of everyday scenery and turn it into one that is associated with alienation and disconnection from the real world. The film attacks its viewers with its bold, alien visuals and its almost perfect musical score and magnificently produces a delightfully nightmarish cinematic environment while holding back nothing. The visuals and music are so in sync that you feel threatened watching every frame of this film.

It’s been said that this film in particular is a beautiful, yet a dreadful metaphor of women’s sexuality. Some film critics even describe it as one of the most powerful feminist films of the 21st century.

It is quite understandable that during the 80s and 90s period, Sci-Fi films were directly associated with individuals labeled as “Geeks” or “Nerds”. However, now, serving a total disclaimer to the above claim; sci-fi films have managed to become part of the mainstream theme of entertainment. Now comes Under the Skin, placing the sci-fi genre among Art house cinema as a step to alter and develop the specific genre. This only serves to prove that no genre is limited to its most popular iconographies and no filmmaker should stop trying to develop, revise and experiment with any of the well-known genres. The biggest, most significant proof of constant generic change is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin.

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Top Saudi Titles Make it to a Catalogue of 44 Arab Movies on Netflix

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Netflix, the leading entertainment giant, is releasing a new cataglogue that will include 44 movies by Arab directors, such as Youssef Chahine, Youssry Nasrallah, Nadine Labaki, Moustapha Akkad, Anne Marie Jacir, Laila Marrakchi and many more.

Among the list are Saudi titles that have made their debut on Netflix this year, including the newly released and first Saudi thriller and drama series, “Whispers,” the award-winning short film collection “Six Windows in the Desert,” and the first Saudi animation movie, “Masameer.”

The new catalogue will bring together cinematic masterpieces and contemporary rising stars from the Arab world’s entertainment industry, this way giving a platform to Arab talents to display their work.

The stories come from the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Algeria and Sudan.

“We want more people around the world to have access to great stories and have the chance to see their lives represented on screen,” said Netflix MENAT Director of Content Acquisitions Nuha El-Tayeb.

“We also believe that great stories come from anywhere and can travel everywhere, connecting with audiences far beyond their place or language of origin,” El-Tayeb added.

“We’re honored to share these classic and contemporary films with our members in the Arab world and globally.”

You can already find some of these film on Netflix and the rest will be available soon.

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Whispers: First Saudi Thriller Series to Debut on Netflix in June

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Netflix’s first Saudi thriller original series entitled ‘Whispers’ will begin streaming on June 11th, the series will be of eight episodes and subtitled in more than 20 languages to stream in 190 countries.

The series is written by Roolan Hassan and produced by the Saudi Entertainment Phenomena Company “EP Saudi.” 

The show tells the story of a family who is facing the death of the family patriarch, Hassan, whose mysterious past comes to the surface and haunts them before the expected launch of the company’s new smart application.

The story then starts developing and showing the different perspectives of the series’ protagonists, in addition to examining social issues that prevail in the series including family feuds and the struggles brought by family businesses. 

Nuha Eltayeb, director of content acquisitions for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey at Netflix, said: “We believe that great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere.

“Whispers is a fast-paced drama and every episode holds a new clue that will keep viewers wanting more. We are thrilled to be offering the new series to all our users in 190 countries and to be giving them the chance to discover great Arabic content that is full of mysterious twists.” She added.

The series stars Shaimaa Al Fadl, Mysoon Alruwaily, Elham Ali, Nada Tawhid, Norah Alanbar, Leila Arabi, Ali Al Sharif, Osama Al Qass, Mohamed Ali and Abdul Mohsen Alnimer.

‘Whispers’ is a Saudi-produced dramatic thriller series that offers a new take on storytelling and marks my first time working with the great actor, Abdul Mohsen Alnimer. The series also features several unconventional female characters who truly embody the reasons why this project is so close to my heart. I am very proud that Netflix decided to make the series available to their 183 million subscribers worldwide and I hope viewers in Saudi Arabia, the GCC, the Arab region and beyond will enjoy it.” Alomair said in a statement.

We can’t wait to see the promising show and we’re positive that it’s merely the start of more great shows to come our way!

 

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Top Arab Female DJs to Keep on Your Radar

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Let loose and dance your worries away on the tunes of these Arab female DJs whose sounds have uplifted the spirits of many, and March being the month of women, we wanted to take the chance and celebrate these Arab female DJs who are rocking concerts.

Enjoy your next favorite playlist!

DJ Cosmicat

DJ Cosmicat, in one of the very few Saudi female DJs, she is spinning the hottest tunes as one of the DJs contributing greatly to the music scene in the Kingdom.

The Jeddah-based artist has successfully made it as one of the most talented acts in the Kingdom’s Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene. She rose to the surface after the region’s largest music festival MDL Beast that was just recently held in Riyadh, now thanks to the festival, she’s now on every favorite list of every EDM enthusiast.

Simi & Haze

Sama and Haya Khadra are Saudi-born Palestinian identical twins, not only did they make it as an in demand DJs but they have also made it as fashion icons. The twins are Coachella regulars and you will find them casually hanging out with the Hadids sisters, the Jenner clan and other A-listers.

DJ Akladios

The Egyptian DJ is among the popular DJs in Cairo, she rocked parties in not only Egypt but Europe as well! With that, she was able to create a global fanbase for her fresh mixes of tech-house music.

Tala Mortada

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The Lebanese DJ is one of the big names in Beirut’s club scene, she spins the grooviest of tunes behind the decks of the city’s busiest clubs.

Sonya

Sonya is a Dubai-based DJ who has dominated the party scene in not just the UAE but across the world as well, her upbeat, house, funk and hip-hop mixes are guaranteed to keep you up and dancing! And with high sense of fashion, she was able to land herself gigs at some of the most high-end fashion houses including YSL, Louboutin, Versace and more.

 

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