And God Created Woman : THE SKIN I LIVE IN

Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In is like a great big beautiful blossom slowly revealing itself to be a bloody gorgeous flower - but beware the thorns, they are dripping with venom .
With nods to everyone from Hitchcock, to Ed Wood Jr, The Skin I Live In tells the tale of a scientist who recently lost his wife and daughter.  Played by Antonio Banderas, Robert Ledgard is a man obsessed (and quite possibly out of his fucking mind).  To the outside world he is a genius working on creating synthetic skin that would benefit burn victims,  in real life, he is the quintessential mad scientist, hell bent on a single task. The good doctor even has his "Igor" in the guise of his housekeeper (Marisa Paredes) a smart, seemingly obliging employee, the housekeeper has some personal luggage of her own and...well, you are going to have to watch the film to learn about that.
For those of you unfamiliar with Almodovar's work - prepare yourself.  His films are lush, manic, sexual, poetic, and often, darkly humorous.  The Skin I Live In is no exception.  The whole tone of this movie is somewhat absurdist, and yet, because of that, the sadistic horror that lies at the center of the story is such a terrifying revelation that it outdoes anything seen in American thrillers in ages.  
Family secrets, obsession, science gone awry, murder, mayhem and a nod to Frankenstein ; The Skin I Live In is a heady brew that leaves the viewer feeling like they were lead through a garden of unearthly delights only to discover that aforementioned blossom - just take heed of my earlier warning, this flower has some deadly thorns. 


I Lost it at the Movies: YELLOWBRICKROAD

It was the late, great film critic,  Pauline Kael who once said, "I Lost it at the Movies".  She could have also been talking about the plot of YellowBrickRoad.

Served up in a very David Lynch-like style, YellowBrickRoad defies all expectations and manages to deliver a strange and trippy cinematic experience that calls to mind everything from The Shining to Mulholland Drive.

Legitimate critics  and bloggers, much more talented than I, have reviewed this film, seek these out and read them for yourself - (I suggest you start here).  I am not giving this one much a of a review as I am pondering its meaning.  I may also drop a spoiler here and there.  You've been warned.
I saw YellowBrickRoad last weekend, and it has stayed with me, haunted me, and intrigued me.

What starts as a story about a group of  investigators and an author trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious mass vanishing of the residents of a small town in New Hampshire seventy years earlier, slowly evolves into a transcendental journey that leads the lone survivor back to the start of his journey where he discovers that hell may actually be the middle row of a cinema (or maybe it's up on the screen).  YellowBrickRoad begins and ends at a movie theater, and, yes, the specter of 1939's The Wizard of Oz is somehow the catalyst for the events both past and present.   Early on in the film we discover that just before everyone wandered off into the woods, they'd been watching The Wizard of Oz at the local movie house, and the remaining copy of the film was played so much, it is worn out.

Haunted woods figure also.  The pathway that our intrepid heroes follow through the forest  are filled with the eerie, ambient sounds of 30's and 40's era music - which at first is almost kind of beautiful, but eventually the sound gets so discordant and loud it drives some to murder and madness.  Obviously, we never really find out where the music is coming from, but it's there like some sort of Dolby-surround-sound torture chamber.
When of the secondary characters is murdered and her body is later discovered trussed up to a pole and posed like The Scarecrow from Oz, one can not help but wonder why.  Is her corpse a warning to the others, or possibly an enticement to wander even further, deeper into the gloomy woods?  I don't have the answer, but I sort of suspect that this is the point that the band of adventurers basically have passed the point of no return - no matter what they do, they are doomed; The Emerald City, or some hellish version of such, awaits and all they have to do is to survive to attain it.   Is this what the townspeople of Friar New Hampshire experienced several generations earlier?

Finally, when the film's protagonist and sole survivor makes it to the journey's end and finds himself back at the movie theater - what do we make of this?  Has he gone full circle, or is it indicative of what's really going on here?  Much like the townspeople of 70 years earlier, has Teddy (Michael Laurino) found himself in some sort of time loop?  Is the story merely repeating itself with some new players - or is what the woman on the screen saying true, "This is where we live now..."  Is Teddy in the same sort of twisted, cinematic dreamland that Diane/Betty (Naomi Watts) found herself in Mulholland Drive
And what do we make of that usher at the theater, (and that gramophone, was that the source of the music heard in the woods)?  Is this The Great and Powerful Oz of the piece?  The man behind the curtain, the one pulling the strings?
I can't say that I have any solid answers.  I can say, that I remain as intrigued and haunted by YellowBrickRoad as when I first saw it.  I appreciate any film that challenges me and leaves me questioning it.  Hell, I applaud it, and I am pretty sure I'll be re-watching this one over and over until I finally "get" it.
See you at the movies, gang!