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Mysterious Skin

A movie directed by Gregg Araki

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Just Not Sure

  • Jan 15, 2007

Just Not Sure

Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride

"Mysterious Skin" (Strand Releasing) is not one of those films that you will likely forget about. It is a deep and profound film with a lot to think about. It is exactly what movies are about--transporting to somewhere we do not know and introducing us to it. I am not sure that I would want to be introduced to what "Mysterious Skin" had to show us but I am glad that I was made aware of it. Sexual predators have never been my taste but having seen all of Gregg Araki's work, I had an idea that this movie was going to indeed be an experience Araki took a great novel by Scott Heim and attempted to turn it into a great movie. In many aspects he succeeded. Movies about hustlers and child molesters are nothing new. In the last two years we seem to have had a lot of them.
The movie has some excellent performances and some very disturbing footage. We meet Brian who seems to be a well adjusted kind. But he lost five hours of his life to a nosebleed and for some reason he thinks he was abducted by aliens. We also meet Neil who is the opposite of Brian. Neil sees his coach on the first day f baseball and although a kid voices that he has feelings for him. When the coach makes an appearance, it is quite clear to us, the audience, where the movie is going. From his molestation of Neil, the coach sets up the chain of events that the movie will follow. We tune in some ten years later and see that Neil is a gay teen hustler who is anxious to leave the small town where he lives. Brian. Meanwhile, is obsessed with his abduction and is searching to found out what really happened that night. As the movie progresses it becomes deeply disturbing. Some of it is very strong and this is probably due to its candidness.
There has been a great deal written about this film--some good, some bad, nothing neutral. In many cases I think for some, the movie hit very close to home. Everyone agrees that it is disturbing. It is brutal but it is real. It is violent and one scene still makes me shudder--the rape of the teenaged hustler interspliced with child molestation.
Did I like the move? I don't know. I am torn--some of it is sheer beauty and poetry while some of it is gratuitous. I had expected much more. Some of my friends raved over. I guess I will just have to watch it again. The problem is now that my mind has already been influenced--in both directions.

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More Mysterious Skin reviews
review by . January 10, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Acting, storyline, general look and feel      Cons: Sexual content will be very disturbing for many      The Bottom Line: This is my second stab at this film. Mysterious Skin is a difficult movie to sum up. I recommend reading reviews here and elsewhere before deciding.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Below, I have included my original review from over …
review by . February 28, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Fine performances by 2 young actors, strong story that needs to be told     Cons: Very difficult scenes of abuse     The Bottom Line: Mysterious Skin leaves the reader hating the world, loving humanity, and most importantly, with a renewed faith in the strength and resolve of the human spirit.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. Everyone responds to traumatic events in different ways. Sometimes …
review by . November 01, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
MYSTERIOUS SKIN is a brilliant film made with tremendous courage and skill by the justly venerated Gregg Araki. His screen adaptation of Scott Heim's fine book is tough, insightful, balanced, challenging, and wholly successful. Few other directors, except possibly Gus van Sant and the Stephen M. Ryder/  Michael Cuesta team ('L.I.E'), would be brave enough to make a motion picture that presents a story that includes pedophilia and there find a moving study of developing sexuality in youngsters …
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #210
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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About this movie


In MYSTERIOUS SKIN, an unlikely director takes on an even more unlikely lead actor and crafts a deeply felt coming-of-age tale that pulsates with the scalding beauty of tragedy. The director, Gregg Araki, whose over-the-top gay melodramas have been criticized as largely empty provocations, proves himself here to have great sensitivity. Yet it is the lead actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, best known for his work on the alien sitcom THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN, whose unforgettable, nuanced performance makes the film. <br> <br> Based on the novel by Scott Heim, the story follows two teenage boys living in small-town Kansas: Brian (Brady Corbet), a clunky and awkward fellow with no discernable social life; and Neil (Gordon-Levitt), a rebellious gay youth whose fragile beauty and cruel indifference make him a successful hustler to the area's older men. Having suffered from blackouts as a child, Brian believes that these voids were actually alien abductions, and goes on a quest to confirm this. As his memories become...
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Director: Gregg Araki
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 30 March 2005 (France)
Screen Writer: Gregg Araki, Scott Heim
Runtime: 105 min
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