Monday, February 22, 2016

The Reflecting Skin on Friday

The Reflecting Skin is a genuinely disturbing movie, one of those strange little films where you can't quite figure where it's coming from or going to, that nonetheless manages to compel you throughout its length, while still ultimately leaving you scratching your head. It plays like a heat-baked prairie Lynch film, a twisted foray into the imagination of a young, damaged boy; it's probably the best kinda-horror film to come out of the Canadian prairies since Nightbreed, and it's about as disturbing a vision of childhood as Terry Gilliam's Tideland (tho' considerably more elegant). It comes complete with exploding frogs, pedophilia, self-immolation, and radiation sickness... There are skeletal babies that get mistaken for angels; there's a lonely woman in black who gets mistaken for a vampire (or is that a metaphor?); and probably the most attractive characters in the movie are a bunch of greaser child-killers who zip about in leather and a hot rod. (Believe me, when you grow up in a small Canadian town, it doesn't take a lot to make someone look glamorous). It's a strange film; you almost want to write it off as pretentious, except it kind of gets under your skin. AND Viggo Mortensen is in  it, in a very early role. In addition to writing the screenplay for the previous movie about the Krays - not the Tom Hardy one, coming out - UK director Philip Ridley went on to make two other features, The Passion of Darkly Noon and Heartless, but in my opinion, this is his best film. 

Anyhow, I haven't much to say about The Reflecting Skin, but I admire it. It screens one time only on Friday at the Vancity Theatre, and this may be an opportunity worth seizing, because it very rarely shows. (For some reason or other, it even took a long time to make it onto digital media in North America, even after Viggo became a name; my copy of it is still a DVD I bought at the long-gone Vancouver location of the Japanese book chain Book Off, complete with Japanese subtitles).

Incidentally, I'm told that this article in Filmmaker Magazine is quite good, if you want more...! And again, thanks to Tom Charity for booking films like this (get out and support them, folks!).

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