Geoff Cox’s DVDs: Under The Skin, Escape From Planet Earth, Gimme Shelter

Scarlett Johansson is truly mesmerising as an alien taking on the form of a dead womand seducing local men in Scotland in UNDER THE SKIN (15: Studio Canal).

By The Newsroom
Friday, 4th July 2014, 1:00 pm
Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin
Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin

The rouge-lipped siren roams the streets of Glasgow and lures her suitors to a nondescript van to meet an horrific fate worse than death.

She mysteriously consumes them, but as she observes the human race, her detachment begins to slip and she develops empathy with the people she encounters.

This is only the third feature film director Jonathan Glazer has made in 14 years (after heist thriller Sexy Beast and New York psycho-drama Birth) and is closer in abstract style to his surreal work in TV commercials.

It opens with a jaw-dropping cosmic sequence and sets an otherworldly tone sharply at odds with the footage of a grey, rainy city and its inhabitants.

I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, but Under The Skin delivers startlingly original imagery amid the Scottish landscapes and finds queasy horror everywhere. Like Johansson’s unearthly visitor, the film loses its way occasionally, but it’s an experience you’ll not forget in a hurry.

> An heroic alien space explorer travels to our planet in response to a distress call in lightweight animated tale ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (U: Entertainment In Video).

The film introduces two blue-skinned brothers from the planet Baab. Scorch Supernova (voiced by Brendan Fraser) is a famous astronaut and both reckless and egotistical. By contrast, Gary Supernova is head of mission control and a nerdy and timid button- pusher.

When Scorch’s bravado leads to his capture by the military and imprisonment in the infamous Area 51, it falls to his brother to man up and save him.

The movie takes a while to get going, but eventually peps up, and although it doesn’t break new ground, youngsters will enjoy the colourful design. And parents might like some period sci-fi references and the vocal presence of William Shatner and Ricky Gervais (as a computer).

> It was only a matter of time before those endless football violence and Brit gangster movies were parodied.

They’re mercilessly sent up in THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY (15: Universal), a cartoonish and frequently funny comedy about the ugly side of ‘the beautiful game’.

Young Danny is taken under the wing of hardman Dex, recently released from prison and determined to re-establish his ‘firm’ as the top dogs of terrace thuggery.

The film’s affectionate spoofing takes pot-shots at the genre’s stereotypes and a succession of familiar-face cameos bolster the gags.

There are references to other films, like Goodfellas and The Shawshank Redemption, but the beating heart of the story is the ludicrous, larger-than-life Dex, who elevates the anti-hero to rarely seen levels of idiocy.

> Music documentary GIMME SHELTER (15: 20th Century Fox) looks at the Rolling Stones’ infamous 1969 US tour, during which the band gave a free concert in Altamount, northern California, in front of 300,000 fans.

It turned out to be one of the darkest days in rock history and the flip side of the decade of love and peace, with the murder of a black spectator by a Hell’s Angel bouncer during Under My Thumb and the violence that followed pervading the film.