Directed By: Jonathan Glazer
Staring: Scarlett Johansson
Plot: "A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery." -IMDB
How I Discovered It: Like everyone else who's interested in movies, I heard about the rave reviews surrounding Under the Skin (and Scarlett Johansson's performance) a couple years ago. It made a ton of "Best Movies of the Year" lists and is already making a few "Best Sci-fi of all time" lists. When I first heard of the film I figured it would be "Species for the 21st century." But the more I heard of this strange little movie, the more I realized that it is a film of another breed altogether.
My Iconic Moment: Anytime Scarlett Johansson's character (simply named "The Female" on IMDB) tricks one of her male victims to return to her seemingly mundane home. What happens to them is surreal and horrific and given little explanation, not that we really need one.
2001: A Space Odyssey should definitely check out Under the Skin. The two films have almost nothing in common plot-wise, but both are slow-paced, quiet works of science-fiction with almost no exposition.
Many people will come away from both Under the Skin and 2001 scratching their heads and asking their date, "What the @#$! was that?" In reality, typical sci-fi tropes are being used in both movies, the audience simply isn't being spoon fed the explanations we have come to expect.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone would suddenly turn into an art film if all the exposition was pulled out, and we were simply shown images of a neglected boy being taken to a castle where weird things happen and the boy burns a man with two faces to death (oh yeah, spoiler alert).
I would also recommend Under the Skin to fans of the David Bowie cult film The Man who Fell to Earth. These two movies are more similar in terms of plot (and some images). They also share an overall quirky, brooding tone, and while we get a little more explanation in The Man... it is still a bit of a head scratcher.
The thing about all three of these films is that while they can all come off as being pretentious and weird for the sake of being weird, that really isn't the case. They all have fairly typical stories that fit into movie archetypes. They are just more like puzzles, intended for people who are trying to to figure out what is going on instead of being told.
But if you like smart sci-fi that isn't so puzzling that's okay too. You might want to check out Moon, Looper and of course Her.