Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Victimization/self-victimization in Matthew Wollin's puzzle movie, THE SKIN OF THE TEETH

The most interesting and weighty dialog exchange in THE SKIN OF THE TEETH, a new what-the-fuck's-going-on-here movie from writer/director Matthew Wollin, occurs when a would-be police officer refers to her charge as "you people." What do you mean by that? he responds: Gays, Blacks, or what? "I mean 'suspects'," she answers. And all of a sudden this very oddball movie is about victimhood. Or maybe self-victimization, since our non-hero, a black man by the name of Josef, seems to have pretty much brought this trauma upon himself.

Mr. Wollin, shown at left, is intent on mystifying us as much as he mystifies poor Josef, a fellow who goes on a Grindr-like date, immediately combs the bathroom of said date for possible drugs, finds some upstairs and takes a dose (even though he has no idea what it might contain) and then, after experiencing some woozy-making side effects, takes another dose for good measure.

He gets a whole lot more than he bargained for.

Josef is played by Pascal Arquimedes (above, left, on poster and below), while his seemingly wealthy/ gourmet chef/spying-on-his-neighbors-with-their-consent hook-up is essayed by Donal Brophy, who is shown at bottom, right.

The movie is being compared to a combination of Get Out and the aforementioned Grindr, neither of which really computes. Get Out was more entertaining and even, oddly enough, more believable. Grinder usually results in some sex, while this film has no nudity, let alone a sex scene.

What it does have is puzzlement, a certain amount of which is enticing and fun. One character will become another, simply by wearing a mask (as above), or by being played by an entirely different actor, as though maybe no one will notice. In this sense, the movie is more in-your-face transgressive than anything else.

But what is it really about? You got me. It's short enough (79 minutes) that you may go along for the ride in any case, especially if you're given to films that prove intentional puzzles with no easy (or even difficult) answer.

TrustMovies enjoys a good puzzle, and while he doesn't always require answers, he does expect a bit more actual content than this movie -- which seems mostly interested in provoking us (and Josef) -- provides. And please, people: don't think for a moment that you are getting here a remake of that great Thornton Wilder play, The Skin of Our Teeth. That will result in major disappointment.

From TLA Releasing, The Skin of the Teeth opens theatrically in New York City this Friday, May 10, at the Cinema Village. Elsewhere? Don't know of any other playdates, but the DVD for the film will be available come next Tuesday, May 14.

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