Archives for October, 2004
George Romero is one of the most influential filmmakers of our time. He has taken a subgenre of film and perfected to the point where no one should even try to make a movie of this type except him. The type of which I speak is of course the zombie film. Night of the Living Dead was a ground breaking new type of film, but the sequel Dawn of the Dead is thought by many to be the best zombie film ever made. …continue reading
Directed By Lucky McKee
Starring: Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Ana Faris
So many film genres have become formula when it comes to big budgets and big stars in Hollywood. The horror genre has always had its greatest moments outside of the Hollywood formula. Movies like Last House on the Left and Texas Chainsaw Massacre broke ground in storytelling and disturbed audiences without big budgets or big names. In fact part of what made these movies as scary as they were was the low budget. The cheap film stock and bad lighting made the movies gritty and realistic, sometimes they could feel like news footage. Over the past few years the trend in horror has continued with the best films coming from left field. May is a perfect example of what can be done in the horror genre if we forget about the formulas and just simply tell a story. …continue reading
This has to be one of the most long awaited DVD collections since the format first launched. We got some early snapper box releases of mostly poor quality. It was only a matter of time before Paramount finally unleashed a killer collection on us. Well boys and girls that time has finally come. As we work our way toward Halloween we thought we’d offer an in depth look at each movie in the collection. So each day this week we will cover one disc of the five disc collection. On Friday we’ll look at disc five which contains the bonus materials. …continue reading
Directed By: Marina de Van
Starring: Marina deVan, Laurent Lucas
Hollywood loves to pigeon hole films into easily defined genres. If a movie doesn’t fit into a standard genre it’s rewritten to death until it does. The marketing teams in Hollywood have become extremely lazy. What would they do with a film such as In My Skin? Is it a horror movie? Not really. Is it a fantasy film? No, well maybe a little. Is it a drama? Yes, there are strong dramatic elements, but it’s so much more.
Marina de Van took on quite a task with this film. She wrote it, she stars in it, and she directed it. But, I don’t think In My Skin could have been made any other way. She had a very clear vision of what she wanted from this story when she wrote it and it shows in the final product. Explaining what she wanted from this lead character to another actor would have been difficult. She knows this character through and through and she portrays her in a believable way, which is astonishing considering the circumstances of the film.
Esther (de Van) is a successful business woman with good friends and a great relationship. She seems to be plodding along in a very typical lifestyle. She is different from her friends though. Early in the film at a party right away her best friend begins mingling with other guests while she would rather explore the unfinished house on her own. She is curious, and this curiosity may have been the key to her falling into the abyss that would soon follow. While exploring she slips and cuts a deep gash in her leg. She doesn’t realize it immediately though. She returns inside, talks with her friends, and goes out for a drink before finally heading for the hospital.
She soon becomes infatuated with the enormous cut on her leg, picking at it when she is nervous or bored. This quickly spirals into a surreal world of self infatuation and mutilation. At first she fights it, trying to hide what she has done to herself but eventually she gives in to her urges in the most graphic of ways even eating her own skin.
There’s a lot more to this movie than the obvious gore that is realistically and shockingly portrayed throughout the film. The story also makes observations about the human condition obvious and subtle. For instance the title In My Skin represents not only the obvious mutilation but also the fact that she is living in the skin of a successful business woman, with good friends, and a good love life, but is she truly happy or playing her part in the world? Would she prefer another skin? Or does she love her “skin” as representative of her life so much that it becomes an icon of it and she must experience it in every way possible?
There is an overt eroticism to the more graphic scenes. While she is performing these unspeakable acts of self mutilation she seems to be embracing her own body, caressing it, and even kissing it in one scene (it’s not funny although it may seem so in this description). She seems to really love her skin, even trying to preserve it in a bizarre turn of the film.
It really seems to me that she realizes through her accident the monotony of her life. The need to mutilate herself seems to come initially during the most mundane work or family related situations. One very Cronenberg moment finds her fighting with her own hand during lunch with clients. I need to watch this movie again, maybe multiple times to really decide what I want to take from it on a psychological level. Yes, Esther has lost her mind, but what really drove her to it?
In My Skin is the best conversation film of the year period. de Van comes by her influences honestly as this film’s slow quiet nature reminds of David Lynch and the super gory surreal scenes are very Cronenberg. The film is shot in a grainy natural documentary style that makes the whole thing seem more real and more shocking. I can’t say it enough, this film is a masterpiece. It’s disturbing, not doubt, but if you look beyond the gore, it’s thought provoking as well. I think I gave this film a 9/10 in my theatrical review but seeing it a second time reveals how it stands up to multiple viewings so I have to revise my previous decision
In My Skin is low budget grainy affair from the beginning with inconsistent lighting and a flat color palette. Don’t think this is an insult because it isn’t. All of this adds to the real feel of the film and is done purposefully by the filmmakers. As far as the transfer goes dark scenes are a little softer and lower in detail than I remember from the theatrical release and I did notice a little extra grain due to compression but overall not bad.
The audio plays an important part in this film and its very well represented by the DVD. There is a 5.1 that features crisp dialogue and vibrant sound effects. The only downside is that it’s heavily front and center channel loaded for a surround mix. But, this film is dialogue heavy and not much happens off camera to be sent to the rear speakers. You pretty much see everything and you hear it nice and clear too.
The DVD audio track is French with English subtitles.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The artwork for the amaray case is very well representative of the film a little odd and a little gross.
The DVD features a commentary track from writer/director/star de Van that can be listened to in French with English subtitles or the audio can be turned off with the commentary subtitles left on. The commentary is very informative and offers excellent insight into the creation of the character and de Van’s motivations for writing the story. The commentary actually offers a whole new way to look at the story. Well done.
There are two short films from de Van that really showcase her talent and also reveal the basis from which In My Skin evolved. Both films Alias and Psy-show are twilight zone sort of oddities. I’d almost recommend watching these films first so you have a good idea where de Van is coming from.
Also on the disc is the theatrical trailer.
In My Skin is a remarkable film that defies category and spurs fascinating conversation. One of my favorite films of the year.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 10/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 7/10
The Bonus Features 7/10
Directed By: Michael Haneke
Starring: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Muhe, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering, Stefan Clapczynski
Some things are universally scary to people all over the world. The idea of home invasion is apparently one of those things as “Funny Games” covers that very subject and it was made in Germany. …continue reading
Directed By Bob Clark
Starring: Richard Backus, John Marley
When you say “zombie” to most people they think of Night of the Living Dead, slow moving monsters attacking the living for sustenance. That for the most part is the mold from which zombies spring from. There have been some exceptions. Deathdream is one such exception. The zombie in this film retains his intelligence, his memories, and is able to speak and he even bares a social message. …continue reading
Created By George Romero and Stephen King
I love these story anthologies that used to be all the rage including the original Creepshow, Cat’s Eye, and Body Bags. After the success of the first Creepshow it was inevitable that a sequel would be done. The only problem was that the sequel would be done on a lower budget and with less studio support than the original. …continue reading
Directed By George Romero
Starring: Lynn Lowry, Richard France, Richard Liberty
George Romero is one of those directors that isn’t appreciated by the mainstream yet his films have influenced mainstream filmmakers for over 30 years. Now with the remake craze running so hot it was inevitable that some half assed wannabe director would dare to touch one of Romero’s classics. The film I speak of is “Dawn of the Dead”. Yes yes fellow fans let the travesty begin. …continue reading