29 December 2014

Members And The Public

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So there was this one time that I ‘blacked up’ one of my close chums for a short movie that we were making. It was nothing offensive though before you jump to any conclusions, as all I wanted him to do was to walk around town like a bad motherfucker. Okay- looking back, maybe this wasn't in the best of taste but I can swear that there was no hate involved and we were much younger at the time. It's hard to judge what's socially acceptable when you're only a mere twenty-one years old. Anyway, the walk to the set involved a brief journey along the main road where my friend suddenly became infected with a sort of strange, hysterical confidence. Seeing the ridiculousness of the situation, the cars driving past began to beep and wave causing him to respond accordingly by aiming his guns and pretending to shoot. Did I mention he had guns? No? Well he did! Politically, 2009 was a different time so please don't judge us by your modern standards. Anyway so we filmed the scene, hid from the police and then went home safe in the knowledge that we'd had a productive day. I asked my friend if he could sum up his experience of mingling with the public whilst in disguise in one word to which he replied “fucking weird”. Technically that was two words, but you know... who’s going to argue with a white guy that thinks he's fucking Shaft.

Speaking of things that involve a person in disguise, the confused involvement of the general public and the phrase “fucking weird” I decided this week to watch the film Under The Skin. To briefly summarise the plot, Scarlett Johansson is an alien that hides her true form under a top of the range human-suit and who spends her time driving around Scotland in search of stray men. Unlike your average Scottish tart though she doesn't just want to fuck the cash out of them for heroin but instead has them walk boner first into some weird black goo. It's so weird... I mean boners! Seriously! This film becomes yet more proof of why we don't need 3D movies. To cut a long story short, the first half of the film is all about looking at humanity from the perspective of an alien and as such is remarkably voyeuristic. The people filmed in the streets are obviously all just normal members of the public with most of the men that she pulls over and talks to being completely unaware that they're being filmed. Imagine a kind of Candid Camera type show but for the artsy crowd! The second half however takes a bit of a turn and it becomes one of those films where you literally can't predict what's going to happen in the next minute let alone how it'll fucking end. To say I was speechless by the time of the credits was an understatement and not just because I watched the thing on my own. I've recently found myself muttering aloud to myself like a serial killer and so my lack of anything to say was genuinely a result of this film being so- call back alert- Fucking weird!

As well as being weird though, I should also say that it was completely fucking amazing. I suppose the key to the whole thing is Johansson's performance which is shockingly spot on. She's one of those strange actresses that's been around for so long that she should be in her mid-fifties by now but is somehow only a few weeks out of her twenties. I mean shit, it's been over ten years since Lost In Translation and she seemed to have the head of a thirty year old even then. I'm only twenty-six and so I'd like to thank the bitch for highlighting the insignificance of both my achievements and entire fucking existence. Ha- I'm joking of course. Beyond ignoring my lust for suicide, I have no achievements for her to undermine. Anyway... she's worked with the Coens, Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen and even has her own Marvel Comic Book Hero. In fairness, her only superpower in that seems to be the ability to give men blue-ball but she's definitely still pretty kick-ass. In fact, after a few years of riding the blockbuster express all the way to cash-ville, you could see this film as being her way of reminding us that she's also a resident of the land of Artistic Credibility.

Ironically though, like her Marvel alter ego, she still plays a kind of black widow here in the way that she consumes her prey whilst it's distracted by thoughts of her giggle-gutter. As I say, the first half of the movie is very voyeuristic but it's also quite alienating. Obviously this is a result of the distantly-filmed and freaky-looking Scottish public but it's also thanks to the initially detached performance from Johansson. It might seem a bit odd to have her in a role like this but I guess that her presence simply mirrors that of her characters. The alien is an alien trying to blend in with humanity in the same way that she's a famous person trying to blend in with Scotland. Sure, she, as an actress, is a little disguised so as not to be recognised, but still... she's clearly so much better looking than the average troglodyte marching the grim streets of Glasgow- I'm surprised they didn't just assume she was an angel and fucking eat her alive as a result of lust and confusion. Anyway, things take a bit of a turn in the second half of the film meaning that Johansson needs to churn out some emotion more powerful than mild curiosity. I won't spoil it though except to say that you can tell when an actor wants you to take them seriously because they take their clothes off and prance about in the buff. I wasn't quite expecting to see Johansson's fanny as much as I did but I'm happy to report that when I wasn't hitting the freeze frame button, she gave what must be one of the year’s best performances.

If I have any criticism of the film, I suppose it would be in its use of the public as a part of its cast. I have no problem with this generally however here it is very slightly distracting. Rather than simply embracing the situation, I instead found myself trying to guess whether the person on screen was an actor or oblivious to the situation. As a general rule, I'd guess that the ones who are only on screen for a few minutes are simply members of the public. Those who then continue to her house and show us their todgers are probably the actors. I don't want to sound like I'm getting too hung-up on the whole bone-on thing either, but if I'm honest, I found that a little distracting too. Firstly because it's not something you see very often and secondly because I was just wondering about the actors having to show them off. I mean, did they quietly toss themselves off in the corner of the set or pop a couple Viagras before the cameras rolled? Or was that just something that they had on their portfolio? Actor, White, Male, six foot, able to do multiple accents and can self-erect penis at will. Sure getting Mr Happy to point due North might sound easy now but clearly that's quite the achievement to do on a movie set where some grotty crew members are all having a casual stare. Although I guess it is a movie set with Scarlett Johansson on so I suppose that would help... and what about afterwards? Were they allowed to finish the process and just knock one out or was there some old hag on set whose job it was to throw iced water at them and calm them down. What the hell would her job title be? A Cock-flopper? A dick duller? I dunno... Maybe I'm just dwelling on this way too much.

Having said that, the film is clearly doing pretty well for itself if that's all I can slag it off for. Like I say, I'm not against the public being involved and I suppose I don't have any issues with the odd knob looking up into the camera. What is it now? 2014? Internet porn has been around long enough at this point that my brain has pretty much evolved the function of blurring out cocks from videos. Having said that, I'm really not arsed about knobs in films before you accuse me of being hypocritical for not being equally distracted by Johansson's lady flaps… It's not that it was a dick but that rather that it was a dick that was clearly so up for it in a film featuring a Hollywood actress. It's unusual! Had Johansson been flat on her back with the camera staring up right at her breakfast, I'm sure I'd have been a little thrown by that too. Having now seen the film though, I suppose I'll be less distracted by those two small things next time so maybe I should just shut up. I swear the film is brilliant and I promise that once you just get over what I probably seem to be having a mental breakdown over, then honestly, you'll love it. I mean, as distracting as those things were, I'm more than aware that I'm really banging on about it now as though it was the worst thing ever. It wasn't! Fuck- just watch the film and you'll see what I mean. It's great. The film is great. It's surreal, it's original, it's got an amazing central performance and it shows our society from a new and unusual perspective. In fact, it's probably one of the best films I've seen this year. It's got a Nick Roeg, Man Who Fell To Earth vibe running through it and it allowed me to talk about the time my friend blacked up. Do you remember that? It was when I started this blog and before I started waffling on about dicks. What an insightful experience into Under The Skin this read must have been for you. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers! 


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