Jordan White and Amy Blue, two troubled teens, pick up an adolescent drifter, Xavier Red. Together, the threesome embark on a sex and violence-filled journey through an America of psychos and quickiemarts.
Lyle Jensen is subject to sudden and violent outbursts, and he is committed to the juvenile wing of the Northwood Mental Institution. Several other youths are there with a variety of ... See full summary »
After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.
In a suburb of London, young Jamie is escaping sport hours, to avoid being the victim of his comrades. Young Ste, his neighbor, is beaten by his father, and comes to sleep overnight. They discover new feelings, sleeping in the same bed.
Brian Lackey is determined to discover what happened during an amnesia blackout when he was eight years old, and then later woke with a bloody nose. He believes he was abducted by aliens, and N. McCormick, a fellow player on Brian's childhood baseball team, may be the key as to exactly what happened that night. As Brian searches for the truth and tries to track him down, Neil McCormick takes up hustling and moves to New York, in attempts to forget childhood memories that haunt him. Together, the two of them uncover the terrible truth of the scars they share. Written by
Gregg Araki said in an NPR interview that he shot all of the scenes with the child actors in such a way that they did not know the sexual context of their abuse scenes, and only during editing did he make the movie appear to show children being abused or witnessing abuse. See more »
When Coach records the voice of Neil he presses the Rec and Play button simultaneously on his tape recorder, but you can clearly see how the Play button flips right back again thus making the recording impossible. See more »
The summer I was 8 years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours. Lost. Gone without a trace.
Last thing I remember I was sitting on the bench at my Little League game. It started to rain. What happened after that remains a pitch black void.
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In his new film Greg Araki uses a prudent ploy to snag and reel you in: having the visuals effusively speak and the screenplay divulge the least amount of information necessary to keep the story evolving. Words can only reveal so much, while Araki's images display an almost unbearable amount of visceral material, exploiting vibrant color, alluring texture, dark and light, the brooding and harrowing eyes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the handsome modesty of Brady Corbet.
The film resonates on a level of rawness unseen and unfelt since Cuesta's "L.I.E." or Solondz's "Storytelling." The film is jarringly penetrative and pervasive: the visuals in your mind play over repeatedly and the disconcerting but intellectually uplifting feeling "Mysterious Skin" infuses lies active long after you leave the theater. The film is not easy to digest. Seeing that there is pervasive sexual exposure between adults, as well as between adults and kids (though discreetly handled), this film will repulse many viewers. This film also had to be made.
Neil (Gordon-Levitt) and Brian's (Corbet) story starts in the early 1980s when they are only eight-years-old. Neil's little league baseball coach initiates a sexual relationship, of which (most likely to the consternation of several audience members) Neil actually recounts a rosy-colored remembrance: he enjoyed it. Brian that same year describes how his perpetual and mysterious string of blackouts and bloody noses began one rainy night after a baseball game.
The story moves forward to when Neil and Brian are at adolescence's conclusion. We discover that Neil has grown up to be both gay and a hustler, while asexual Brian's free time is taken up seeking the source of and resolution to his insoluble physical ailments. Brian soon deduces that aliens abducted him and meets a fellow abductee, Avalyn (Mary Lynn Rajskub), with whom he finds ephemeral solace.
Neil and Brian's story act in parallel, moving forward and backward over time, but never disjointedly. Neil eventually moves to New York, while his pining friend Eric (Jeff Licon) actually befriends Brian and an endearing friendship ensues. Neil's (unappeasable) pursuit of everlasting male love ends in the most unlikely of places: back home. Brian's pursuit of the truth leads him to, predictably, Neil. Araki exquisitely handles the ending (not divulged here) with the appropriate effusion of tendered emotion by the two main actors (warning: though the film's trailer subtlety gives away the finish).
I cannot give enough plaudits to the two male leads. A long way from "3rd Rock", Joe's sensuous flirtations and dynamic eyes mate well with Brady's tranquil, naive, yet profound, disposition. Brady's last scene with his character's father, as well as the climax, demonstrates his aptitude and assured longevity as an actor (beyond "Thunderbirds").
"Mysterious Skin" evidences many matches made-in-heaven: from film and director to material and actor to music and film. The film is entirely amoral, but not immoral. It is also a difficult film to watch. Many will cast it aside as tripe and trash (along with other morally relative films), but those fortunate enough to engage themselves in the movie's discussion will revel in it long after the credits' close.
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