“The Skin I Live In,” reviewed

“The Skin I Live In,” reviewed (photo)

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Pedro Almodóvar‘s films are often about concerns of the flesh, live or otherwise, but his latest, “The Skin I Live In,” takes those dermatological concerns to a whole new level. It is about a doctor named Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), who has created a synthetic skin that is far more resilient to damage than normal human tissue. Early in the film he gives an academic presentation on the wonders of skin replacement surgery and how he loves to help people who’ve been horribly scarred reclaim their identities. He talks about the way enriching the lives of others enriches his own life. Isn’t that nice? Sure, but this is an Almodóvar film, so the altruistic doctor also has a woman imprisoned in his estate, and he’s using her as a guinea pig for his skin experiments.

That would be Vera, played by the luminous Elena Anaya (see above, as if I need to tell you — more likely I need to clear my throat and remind you to pay more attention down here). Just like Ledgard, Vera has secrets of her own, and her opinion of — and relationship to — her captor changes with each revelation, an appropriate structure for a film that is ultimately about the idea of human metamorphosis.

Again: this is an Almodóvar film (or “A Film By Almodóvar,” as he likes to phrase it in the credits). That almost automatically means there are heated sex scenes, sudden bursts of violence, and big melodramatic donnybrooks. It’s the sort of picture where a guy can show up at someone’s front door in an inexplicable skintight tiger costume, and that’s only like the fourth weirdest thing in that scene. Almodóvar brings together a bunch of disparate genres: melodrama, of course, plus comedy, science-fiction, and even a bit of horror, though the film, with its crisp, bright cinematography and fastidious production design, looks nothing like a horror movie. Once again, the emphasis is squarely on mutability. One tone and style gives way to the next, and then the next after that.

“The Skin I Live In,” based on a novel by Thierry Jonquet, demands a vigorous suspension of disbelief, but everything ultimately fits together inside the film’s demented sense of logic (or lack of logic). It helps to have two actors as committed to (and as deadpan about) the lunacy as Banderas and Anaya, who both seem blissfully unaware that they’re stuck inside a batshit insane movie with crazy skin grafts and crazy face masks and crazy body suits, and all kinds of other crazy stuff. Banderas has probably never been funnier in a movie without actually doing or saying a single funny thing.

The movie exists in its own strange little world, but it’s a pretty damn fun world to visit for 120 minutes. As another director of corporeal cinema once put it: long live the new flesh.

“The Skin I Live In,” fresh off its Gala Presentation at the New York Film Festival, opens in limited release this Friday. If you see it, let us know what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.