Director Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is, most of all, a study in imagery. Its science-fiction status is hinted at by visual design, as in the film’s opening moments, when concentric circles appear out of the darkness on screen, then are seen to separate, inhabiting three-dimensional space, from left to right, with a bright light blazing on one side. The figure suggests a diagram of a solar system, all its planets in perfect alignment, or (more on point) the glass elements of a lens.
Out of the previous silence, we start to hear fragments of a woman’s voice on the soundtrack, and the elements on screen, clean and fresh as something out of the Apple factory, are resolved as the workings of an eye, iris and pupil appearing on screen in startling close-up. The film then cuts to images of nature, water rushing by, and a jagged road slicing across the screen like Dali’s razor blade slashing an eyeball.
A little more than halfway through Vicky Cristina Barcelona, three of the film’s characters — two women, one man — are picnicking. As in much of the film, the photography has the rich golden hue of a languid summer day. The women are dressed in light flimsy material that seems like it might be whipped away if the wind turns. The images communicate in a nearly tactile mode; Javier Aguirresrobe’s cinematography evokes the warming sensation of sunlight, and the actresses’ bodies make you think of the feeling of a hot breeze brushing softly against skin. You can almost smell the grass. It’s a lovely scene in an especially playful film crafted by a masterful filmmaker — an old man’s movie that invests in the spirit of reckless youth.
You get almost 1000 hits when you run a Google search for “match point” woody departure, about 990 more than you get when you search “match point” woody “same old shit”. That’s a good thing, even if Woody Allen’s newest film is less of a change-up than the PR suggests. It really has the old man’s fingerprints all over it. The main thing in Allen’s career right now that it’s a departure from is sucking.
As the opening credits flash on the screen, Ghost World is already hurtling forward, appropriating a brassy Bollywood tune and setting Thora Birch to dancing. Her shimmying interpretation of the choreographed Hindi number she’s watching on TV is simultaneously smug and exuberant – this girl carries herself with the cocky adolescent air of a kid who knows what’s cool.