Cinematic Dramatic Conversations 0x04 – Glazer

For his second episode in charge, Byron looks at the surprisingly short film portfolio of British director Jonathan Glazer. The Dramatics take a look at crime caper Sexy Beast, grief stricken drama Birth and the extra-terrestrial Under The Skin. These three films are Glazer’s only outings as a film director and they make an excellent topic for a cinematic conversation.

Byron’s Show Notes

Sexy Beast

“Glazer doesn’t show us how Gal used to be in the bad old days, before he got sent to jail and came out and started a new life of luxury away from London criminal enterprises. We don’t know who Gal was before he was in love with DeeDee. All we know is that he wants to be a tranquil man now, and fuelling his resolve when circumstances become adverse is the loving connection that he has and that he feeds with admiring words.”

“His work on the videos definitely prefigure his work here—even the most prosaic scenes have a slick surface and the movie breaks out into dreamy, stylized sequences—Gal and Deedee float in the night sky while Dean Martin croons “Sway,” a terrifying were-rabbit menaces Gal with a machine gun. How those sequences go over is the key to how the viewer receives the film—if you’re with Glazer when the rabbit pulls a gun, you’re probably ready for anything he’ll throw at you.”

Birth

“The film’s piece-de-resistance is — give or take — a two-minute single shot around the half-hour mark (watch below). Anna, skeptical, has just jilted the ten-year-old Sean. But after turning him over to his parents and watching him fall to his knees in her lobby, Anna is clearly beginning to wonder, “could this really be?” Then, as she takes her seat in an opera house and tries to drown out the music, the camera, manned by none other than the late great Harris Savides, slowly, like a ship pulling into a harbor, zooms in on Kidman’s about-face. This telescopic close-up uncovers Anna’s waves of despair, ecstasy, grief and astonishment as the magisterial overtones of Wagner overflow around her. It’s as much Savides’ performance as it is Kidman’s.”

Under the Skin

Glazer’s first film, Sexy Beast (2000), has a scene that asks us to understand what falling down a hillside feels like for a boulder, and just as Sergio Leone said that he looked through Clint Eastwood’s face and saw a block of marble, so Glazer gets something boulder-like – impassive, abstracted – from Johansson.

  • Martin Robbins brings up an interesting theory about BB-8 which compliments Johansson’s Alien amongst other characters which gender is merely placed upon.

“What gender is Robby the Robot? What about HAL, from 2001: A Space Odyssey? Is GLaDOS, from the Portal games, male or female? What about Apple’s Siri assistant, or the liquid metal T-1000 from Terminator 2? You probably answered male, male, female, female, male; and if you didn’t, you probably had to make a conscious effort not to.”

“I thought it would make a good film right away. I loved her, the alien, or woman, or whatever you want to call her. I thought she was captivating and I enjoyed how much the book kept its cards close to its chest. I remember being struck by that moment where she describes a man and you realise her description is that of an animal. Even though the film took ten years to make, I actually only read the book once and then I worked with the impression it had left me with.”