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Under The Skin (2013): Film Review

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Under The Skin is a 2013 Drama/Fantasy film starring actress Scarlett Johansson and directed by Jonathan Glazer

Budget: 13.3 million USD

Box Office: 7.2 million USD

IMDb: 6.3/10           Roger Ebert: 4/4           Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

I give it: 4/5

Under the Skin is a 2013 production that belongs to the sci-fi genre. However, most viewers of the film agree that the film breaks away from some of the most common factors seen in Sci-fi films. When the words “Sci-fi” or “Science Fiction” are mentioned, people almost automatically think of Oscar winning blockbusters like Gravity (2013) or Interstellar (2014). That, or their mind shifts towards Star Wars (1977-still going strong) or Star Trek the famous TV series (1968) that’s also been made into a film series. Notice the words “Stars” as the shared elements between the two titles. This is due to the fact that for such a long time, science fiction films have been associated with galaxies, stars, extra celestial beings, life on different planets…etc. However, Under the Skin presents itself as an astoundingly unconventional sci-fi film with no Space fights or laser beams whatsoever. Under The Skin is a sci-fi film that takes place on Earth, Scotland; to be specific.

The story is about a mysterious nameless woman played by Johansson, who roams the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, hunting for men who she lures in with her vibrant sexuality then eats, not literally. Eventually, we understand that Scarlett Johansson is an alien who’s completely disconnected from normal human emotions and feelings.

That, of course, doesn’t in anyway mean that Under the Skin is free of the mesmerizing visuals we find in sci-fi films. In fact, the film is packed with them but it does so in the most avant-garde way possible, establishing itself as a visionary science fiction film rather than a movie about colorful creatures fighting each other for entertainment reasons. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this specific kind of pleasurable and humorous films isn’t needed. But every now and again, it is refreshing to find a film rising from a certain genre, altering the peoples’ view of it.

Until this very day, some people still believe that a true, genuine sci-fi flick has to have certain elements and iconographies in order to be listed under the sci-fi genre. However, I believe that is a common mistake that societies tend to make when exposed to a certain constant, unchanging thing or nature for so long that they forget that it can be altered or reformed.

The opening scene of Under the Skin is very important, as it has been directly linked to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey numerable times. The scene is viewed as a reference to 2001. The story opens with a black screen and a white dot in the middle that keeps growing until it overtakes the whole screen with its blinding brightness, followed by a cosmic close up, followed by a close up of an eye. All this is happening while a score that is so similar to that of 2001 is playing and a woman (Johansson’s voice) is mumbling incomprehensible words. This scene establishes the viewer’s understanding that he/she’s about to go on a journey rather than watch a film that he/she might forget after. The sequence also sets the scene for what’s to come. In a sense, this scene is a perfect opener, enlightening its spectators that they’re in for a film that is more concerned with building atmosphere than it is with multifaceted plot or dialogue.

There’s only one main character and one star in this film and that is Scarlett Johansson. Her character is of an alien who lands in Scotland and takes form on Earth as a very beautiful and very seductive young woman. Johansson’s character displays an absence of empathy. Another important aspect when it comes to the characters of the film is that some of the men Johansson chats with are real actual passers by who have no idea they’re talking to a huge movie star or that they’re being filmed. Johansson drives the van herself and the scene is shot in hours on end.

The narrative content of the film is innately sexual as it focuses on a woman luring in men using her sexuality, beauty and body in order to then use them for her own special purposes. The film makes great use of the documentary style to
the extent that what you see as a reality on screen is almost too relatable that it initially becomes uncomfortable to watch. In contrast to this amount of reality thrown in your face, comes the way more cinematic and stylistic filming style, which dominates a large part of the film. Consequently, this filming style juxtaposes against the realism of the very realistic scenes. The film’s music is almost perfect. It’s horrifying, alarming, disturbing and startling in every way.

The whole film feels like one long dream/nightmare where everything is familiar yet, seems strangely odd. Where places that echo with safety now vibrate with anxiety and fear. Under the Skin reminds us that cinema is the closest thing we have to dreaming without actually being asleep. Remarkably, the director manages to take the feeling of everyday scenery and turn it into one that is associated with alienation and disconnection from the real world. The film attacks its viewers with its bold, alien visuals and its almost perfect musical score and magnificently produces a delightfully nightmarish cinematic environment while holding back nothing. The visuals and music are so in sync that you feel threatened watching every frame of this film.

It’s been said that this film in particular is a beautiful, yet a dreadful metaphor of women’s sexuality. Some film critics even describe it as one of the most powerful feminist films of the 21st century.

It is quite understandable that during the 80s and 90s period, Sci-Fi films were directly associated with individuals labeled as “Geeks” or “Nerds”. However, now, serving a total disclaimer to the above claim; sci-fi films have managed to become part of the mainstream theme of entertainment. Now comes Under the Skin, placing the sci-fi genre among Art house cinema as a step to alter and develop the specific genre. This only serves to prove that no genre is limited to its most popular iconographies and no filmmaker should stop trying to develop, revise and experiment with any of the well-known genres. The biggest, most significant proof of constant generic change is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin.

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EL KING MOHAMED MOUNIR EL EKHTEYAR 2

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A ripple coursed through the hearts of Egyptians as we all watched Al Ekhteyar 2 while the emotionally moving ‘Dhalin’ by the King Mohamed Mounir played. A piece mourning the brave ‘Oasis martyrs’ who lost their lives in service to their homeland. Captivating the emotions of millions across the country, capturing their feelings of regret and sorrow and transforming it into a song manifesting the pride and resilience of a nation.

Mounir drew upon the talents of those he knew would be necessary to bring justice to the piece’s subject matter. The captivating song that brought the king to tears during the recording, is a product of favorite poet Nasr El Din Nagy, the artist behind the moving lyrics and was composed and arranged by the remarkable Ahmed Farhat.

Delivering a piece that the King intended to remind us of the strength and spirit Egyptians present in the face of adversity. Exemplified by the Egyptian army’s heroism in the fight against terrorism. Mounir’s words echo the chant within the hearts of all our countrymen, “Glory to the martyrs and long live Egypt.”.

@mounirofficial
@thecarouselworld

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AL AASELA ABDELRAHMAN ROSHDY

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Step in. We invite you to uncover the truth and discover the answers with the guidance of enchanter Abdelrahman Roshdy. Riding on the spiritual winds, Roshdy brings a fresh new energy to the music scene as we know it. His debut album ‘El Aasela’, having been in the works for the past two and a half years, poses several fundamental questions we all ask ourselves with the album title song, ‘El Aasela’ proceeds to address every question posed in it with each following song in the album. Abdelrahman’s inclination to experiment with different musical and lyrical styles had him refining its direction and adding the soul to the music. There was a high level of planning required to assemble the different elements of the album, considering this was going to be a visual album. Desiring to deliver a message with this album that will truly leave an impact on the listener, he worked closely with lyricist Nour Abdallah to ensure that every song once complete would pluck at the listener’s heartstrings. Creating tracks that addressed concepts such as love, society, faith and existence with questions that we could all relate to having asked regardless of race, gender or class.

His passion for music and for sending his powerful messages out there had him composing most of the album which has become another addition to his experience in music composition, having previously composed the GFF 2020 official anthem ‘Dokki Ya Mazzika’ featuring superstar Ramy Ayach. He saw the chance for ‘El Aasela’ to be refined with the diligent approach and technical expertise that would come from collaborating with Moataz Mady who found a harmony in working on and producing the album with Roshdy, adopting a style and approach to creating music that carries a cinematic or emotional tone to it. Mady found the opportunity to flex his musical talents and draw upon his previous experience with several artists in the past, creating an experience that immerses the listener, an effect Mady has been waiting to find the opportunity to implement.

Taking a unique path to break away from the norm, Abdelrahman sees this album as a jumping off point having featured three key artists on three of the album tracks. ‘Fesam’ featuring Cairokee’s front man Amir Eid composed by Sherif Mustafa and Abdelrahman Roshdy. ‘Neshky Le Meen’ featuring Ahmed Kamel,  written and composed by multi-talented artist Khaled Essam, and finally ‘El Rezk’ featuring shaabi superstar Mahmoud El Lithy while star producer Mohamed Sakr added his magical touch mixing and mastering the entire album. This grand collaborative effort helped cement a new step for Roshdy, where he seized an opportunity to expand his range through experimenting with other genres and artists as he hopes to discover his range in different musical styles and genres. ‘El Aasela’ stands out as a new and unique direction in the Egyptian music scene that diverges from the superficiality of the everyday to the more timeless and profound.

The creativity and direction brought on by Cocaina studios, who shot and directed all 10 music videos, complemented by Carousel, Roshdy’s Management and Publicity team, helped cement the final key component of the album and journey. The sharp photography of Black Creative Studios, which accentuated the eye-catching costume design done by celebrity Stylist and Director Gehad Abdalla, with it being perfected by the album artworks created by Visual Artist and Director Adam Abdelghaffar, with all divergent elements brought together under the supervision and calculated hand of Carousel’s founder Daliah Galal. The combination of the audio, lyrical and visual elements came together to form a unique and profound experience. And in the words of the album producers, Gamma Music and MS Productions, who were excited to produce ‘El Aasela’ album for Roshy. “We appreciate what Abdelrahman Roshdy brings to the table and what his powerful voice can achieve and we want to open the avenues available to support new talents in the Egypt and the greater Arab market.

Ultimately aiming to create a shift towards a path that stands to reshape the minds of listeners and foster a depth and authenticity that touches the soul. Abdelrahman Roshdy is striving to lead a new wave that will revitalize the hearts of his listeners and free them from the ordinary, the superficial and the trivial. His relentless pursuit holds great promise, with his passionate and thought out approach to his music and the message it carries present the Egyptian music scene with a talented artist who is poised to expand its horizons down to the core.

El Aasela | @abdelrahmanroshdy and @moatazmady_

Album Production | @_gammamusic @msproductionme

Management and Publicity | @thecarouselworld @daliahgalal

Management team | @nohasultan95 @gihanauf

Shoot Production | @thecarouselworld

Executive Producer | @daliahgalal

Photography | @blackcreativestudios

Fashion Director | @gehadabdalla

Album Artworks | @adamaghaffar

 

Abdelrahman Roshdy YouTube Channel

Spotify Platfrom

Anghami Platfrom

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Adonis Releases Their 5th Studio Album ‘A’DA’

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Lebanese indie-pop favorites, Adonis , complete the release of their highly anticipated fifth studio album ‘A’da’ (Enemies), with part three out now across all streaming platforms.

Part one and two of the release saw the group trending across Lebanon with live stream performances of their new work to delighted fans.

The final segment of the album, introduces  “Tabi’yi” , a fast-paced pop-rock anthem with hard-hitting drums and catchy guitar riffs, while “Jeet Kermalak”, a delicate ballad,  showcases a traditional middle eastern instrument, the Qanun, beautifully orchestrated alongside the smooth, soothing vocals of guest singer-songwriter, Dana Hourani.

“A’da” is described by the band as a love story between two young, impressionable characters, that unravels through the album tackling themes of nostalgia and lost futures, in an elusive, sometimes cruel, present.

Speaking about the album, lead singer-songwriter Anthony Khoury shared “each part of A’da not only explores a specific time in the characters relationship – how they grew together or apart – but also represents significant times that deeply influenced our songwriting and development over the years.

 

We celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, so we’re really excited to share an album we feel demonstrates who we are today, and explores the experiences that have shaped us as a band in Beirut.”

Artwork stills  from ‘Mouharrami”  and Moukhtalef lyric videos. Illustration  by Anthony Khoury, animation by Kook.

 

Released at the end of January, “Mouharrami” was a tone-setter for a new musical direction taken by the four musicians, with heavy 80s and 90s dance music influences weaving their way through the lively opening track.

Title track “A’da”, meanwhile, was accompanied by an intricately illustrated music video, which follows the band members as four retro video game characters, navigating through a dystopian Beirut in search of their stolen hearts.

WATCH A’DA MUSIC VIDEO NOW

The video was directed and illustrated by Omar Khouri, with art direction by the band’s long-time collaborator Nadim Hobeika.

Filled with downbeats of raging bass drums, shimmering guitar lines and sweeping synthesizers, this three-part album is complimented by the band’s signature Arabic lyrics, sometimes playful, sometimes poignant,  and always  a point of reference for their expanding fan base across the region.

STREAM A’DA

“A’da” was produced by Sleiman Damien, between the months of August and November 2020, in an improvised studio in the seaside town of Batroun, where the band relocated just days after the August 4 Beirut Port explosion. “Tabi’yi” showcases a live performance music video shot in the same traditionally Lebanese setting.

 

WATCH TABI’YI

During release weekend, Anthony Khoury, Adonis’ lead singer, also performed an exclusive stripped down set featuring vocals and piano as part of Embrace Lebanon’s initiative “Music for Mental Health”,  where he showcased Tabi’yi as a message of hope for those struggling through unprecedented times.

WATCH THE PERFORMANCE HERE

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