Based on Michael Faber’s novel of the same name, Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as Laura, an alien sent from afar who’s equipped with enough human language and awesome seductive power to capture, destroy and presumably send home human males. A more accurate synopsis would read: “Scarlett Johansson drives around Scotland in a white rapist van looking for lonely men to prey on.”
Glazer’s inspiration from Kubrick & Hitchcock is felt throughout, along with his music video background, and he’s crafted a truly strange but captivating sci-fi that should please genre fans. The film does get a little bit repetitive in the first half, but Johansson keeps your undivided attention, as she is completely mesmerizing as the seductive and curious alien. Slowly paced but highly absorbing, Under the Skin is a beautifully-shot, enigmatic, enthralling, and bizarre film that’s worth checking out.
I’ve seen over twenty films at TIFF so far and Blue is the Warmest Color is the one I can’t get out of my head. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking, intimate three hour epic with two of the finest performances of the year. Loosely based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel “Le Bleu Est une Couleur Chaude,” the film centers on a 15-year-old named Adele whose life is turned upside down when she meets Emma (Léa Seydoux), a blue-haired young woman, who allows her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and an adult. Adèle Exarchopoulos is an absolute revelation here while Seydoux is nothing short of brilliant. Their relationship feels so real, so genuine that you never for one second feel like they’re acting. It’s fearless, groundbreaking, and filmmaking at its finest. I do believe Blue is the Warmest Color will go down as one of the best coming of age films ever told on screen.
Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate has been the most disappointing film of the festival so far for me this year. Despite it being about an incredibly timely, important, and fascinating subject, the film never ends up being anything other than mediocre. It suffers from an uneven script, which features lame and utterly useless subplots, as well as pacing issues & horrible visual flourishes that weaken some of the more interesting aspects of the story. Benedict Cumberbatch turns in a nice performance as the enigmatic Assange but there’s not really much more to admire here.
Tomorrow’s recap will feature my thoughts on Gravity, Prisoners, & August: Osage County