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Review - The Reflecting Skin

Source: Starburst.
Found By: Chrissie
Many thanks to Chrissie for brining us this 10 out of 10 blu-ray review from Starburst magazine.
© Soda Pictures.
Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) is a small boy growing up in an unnamed part of the rural United States circa 1950. Seth's older brother is in the Navy, enjoying what their volatile mother naively calls "the pretty islands" and Seth and his young friends, with nothing better to do, enjoy inflating bullfrogs and exploding them with their slingshots and tormenting the mysterious woman who lives close by, an English widow called Dolphin Blue (Lindsay Duncan) who Seth begins to suspect is actually a 200-year-old vampire.

After one of his friends is murdered and found in the water tank on Seth's family farm, suspicion falls upon Seth's father. The accusation also unearths a long buried secret about the father that results in more tragedy for the little boy. Seth, however, is convinced the vampire is responsible. It isn't long before another of Seth's friends is killed.

When Seth's brother (Viggo Mortensen) returns home and falls in love with the vampire, Seth is certain that she is draining his lifeforce. Surely that can be the only reason Seth's brother is losing so much weight and his hair is falling out. No-one will believe Seth's stories, but it is his duty to stop the vampire once and for all. Could Dolphin Blue be innocent? Could the murders of children actually be linked to the strange youths roaming the dirt roads in their ominous black car?

British writer/director Philip Ridley created a genuine masterpiece in The Reflecting Skin. His film deserves much more acclaim than it ever received, and it has been very badly mistreated by past home video releases. Thankfully, with this new Blu-ray release it has been restored to its full glory. It is no exaggeration to say the film has never looked this good, not even in cinemas. What's more, this Blu-ray presentation comes fully loaded with features and interviews, two of Ridley's earlier short films and a fascinating commentary by the director.

The cinematography is exquisite, with some absolutely jaw-dropping shots of the cornfields, the clapboard farmhouses, the sun blazing down and the moon looming large and ominous as night falls. As for the performances, Lindsay Duncan and Viggo Mortensen are both stand-outs, with Duncan being especially remarkable. The Reflecting Skin isn't for everybody and despite talk of vampires it isn't a horror film. The pacing is slow, almost poetic, and much of the dialogue is quite theatrical (not surprising, considering that Ridley is also a playwright). The film also leaves us with as many questions as answers, and it is open to a myriad of interpretations. Unfortunately, without giving the ending away, we can't tell you our favourite one.

And as for the title? That is explained by Mortensen's character very late into the movie during a poignant conversation with Seth. The "pretty islands" weren't that pretty at all. They were Japan, at the exact moment America dropped the atomic bomb. It is cinema's loss that Philip Ridley has made so few films and our gain to have The Reflecting Skin back again and looking and sounding so perfect.

© Starburst. Images © Soda Pictures.

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Viggo in Palestine - FAR FROM MEN :: Screening

Source: Franco Arab Film Festival.
Found By: Chrissie

Thanks to Chrissie for the find. News that Viggo will also be presenting Far From Men in Jerusalem on 19 November 2015.

A film by David Oelhoffen

France, 2015, 102 min, French with English subtitles
1954. While rebellion rumbles, two men different in every way, are forced to flee across the crests of the Algerian Atlas. In the heart of winter, Daru, a secluded school teacher, has to escort Mohamed, a farmer accused of murdering his cousin. Chased by villagers calling for justice and by revengeful settlers, the two men fight back. Together, they will fight to regain their freedom.

A discussion will follow the screening with the director David Oelhoffen and the actor Viggo Mortensen

© Franco Arab Film Festival. Images © One World Films.

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News – 14 Nov 2015

Categories: Viggo-Works

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Found By: Iolanthe
Categories: Media Quotable Viggo

With the recent blu-ray release of a restored The Reflecting Skin gaining the film new fans and sparking a new interest in Philip Ridley's work, time to look at Viggo's collaboration with this visionary director. Working together on both Reflecting Skin and The Passion of Darkly Noon, both Viggo and Ridley have spoken of their mutual respect and trust in bringing Ridley's 'unique vision' to the screen.

'Viggo is one of the few people I've worked with who, I feel, is a true kindred spirit. From the moment we first met - when I was casting The Reflecting Skin in Los Angeles - it was as if we'd known each other all our lives. He understands my work totally. By the time we were doing Darkly Noon I hardly had to give him a word of direction. He knew instinctively what I wanted.

Philip Ridley at the Tokyo International Film Festival
From "The American Dreams: Two Screenplays by Philip Ridley'
Methuen 1997

All great artists reveal themselves more in their work than in interviews. Every time Viggo's in front of the camera or picks up a pen or a canvas or a camera, he's opening the door to his heart. This is where he's telling you the secrets of his life . . . Viggo cannot strike a fake note. I say with absolute experience that if he doesn't believe it, he won't do it.

Philip Ridley, Director
The Reflecting Skin and The Passion of Darkly Noon
The Telegraph

What has caused him to race down from his suite, probably giving several PR assistants heart attacks in the process, is the urge to impress upon me that one director has inspired him more than any other he has worked with - Philip Ridley, the British film-maker who cast Mortensen in his Lynchian adult fairy-tales, The Reflecting Skin (1990) and The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995).

"That man will never sell out," he enthuses, "because his vision is unique."

Viggo Mortensen: A Method Actor in Middle-Earth
by Ryan Gilbey
The Independent

'Many actors tend to think of their work in terms of career - this strange sort of concept that acting is like climbing up a mountain, that they get bigger with each job - and art doesn't move like that. Viggo knows that instinctively.'

Philip Ridley
Super Natural
by Anna David
Daily Telegraph 2002

The Reflecting Skin

This independent feature was the directorial debut of Philip Ridley, a British painter-illustrator-novelist who had supplied the script to Peter Medek's mesmerizing 1990 gangster film The Krays. The Reflecting Skin was celebrated as one of the unique films of its year and received a good deal of favorable reviews.

Fantasia 2015: 'The Reflecting Skin' a gothic masterpiece that is criminally overlooked
Sound on Sight
25 July 2015

His voice is such a growl that you find yourself leaning toward the screen to catch the words. His features are well defined but suggest a curious amalgam of Kirk Douglas' and Burt Lancaster's. His credits include Swing Shift, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Young Guns II, but his onscreen time is so limited that you still may not know who Viggo Mortensen is. In his latest film, The Reflecting Skin, British writer-director Philip Ridley's disturbing tale of repression and decay in the American heartland, Mortensen doesn't appear until an hour has passed - but when he does he immediately marks himself as one of those actors who doesn't need fancy lighting to be incandescent. Cast as a young man returning from the Pacific (where he dropped bombs on sleepy atolls), he displays surly, distant passion that's at odds, yet perfectly in step, with a small town that is seething beneath its bucolic veneer. Word is that he fires up the screen in Sean Penn's directorial debut, The Indian Runner, a film about a good brother and a bad brother that is due for release in September. It's not hard to figure out which brother Mortensen plays.

Viggo Mortensen Interview
by Martha Frankel
June 1991

Mortensen also gets to shine in a smaller than expected role but one which is typically interesting of the actor. This is an early role for the actor but one which really begins to show the brilliant talent that would emerge post Lord of the Rings.

David Bishop
Suite 101
16 June 2010

Viggo shows up well into the film, and we see an early example of his willingness to be both vulnerable and venomous. Naturally, too, we see his buttocks, surely at least part of the appeal for some audience members. It's a beautifully realized scene of vulnerability (echoing perhaps the famous photo of Lennon/Ono by Leibovitz) and it's one of the film's most striking moments.

Jason Gorber
23 July 2015

The Reflecting Skin is a strange, at times wonderful film, one that leaves more questions open than answers. Its palate and performances collide in ways that seem unique decades on.

Jason Gorber
23 July 2015

The Passion of Darkly Noon

The Passion of Darkly Noon is cinema as opera - huge, iconic, occasionally ridiculous, sometimes moving, undisputedly spectacular. Understatement is not Ridley's middle name: "Either people are going to get it big, or they're not going to get it". It will baffle and astound audiences in (unequal) measure, but the sheer drive and ambition he displays are undeniable.

"The Passion of Darkly Noon"
By Gerald Houghton
The Edge

By the time you get to the giant glittering silver shoe floating in the river, you'll know whether The Passion of Darkly Noon is your kind of insanity.

The Passion of Darkly Noon Review
By Rob Gonsalves
eFilm Critic
30 April 2009

"We were on location in what used to be East Germany, on the Czech border. I was there on my own, I didn't have anybody that I needed to talk to on the phone, so I thought I'd try to warm up because I didn't have a rehearsal period. I literally worked the day after I got there. When I stepped off the plane I decided not to say anything. I thought 'I'll just do this today' and then I just kept doing it. I did it the whole month I was there, which was really interesting because I did hear more what was being said, and I did watch people's reactions more closely."

Viggo's Box
By Craig Clevenger
Fond Affexxions #5
Winter Thaw 1995

"I only heard him speak after the shoot was over, and then only to say, 'Thanks everybody, so long.' He'd make clicking noises in the back of his throat to communicate," recalls costar Brendan Fraser. Mortensen refused to break character even to settle his hotel bill. "The concierge probably didn't speak English, and here's Viggo gesturing with his hands and pointing, scribbling on a pad. And I think Viggo eventually got 50% off the bill. If you know Viggo, it makes perfect sense. In a way, he transcends the acting."

Viggo Trip
by Liane Bonin
Flaunt magazine #39, 2002

The strength of Ridley's debut helped him attract a top-tier cast, and they all perform to the level and tone of the script. David Lynch regular Grace Zabriskie gives good crazy as an old woman who uses Lee as part of her own vengeance against Callie, while Mortensen does his usual fine work here, getting across the depth and intensity of his feelings without the use of speech.

Issue 295
September 2010

Fraser isn't the only person who shines here. Mortensen is quite the revelation as well. Although he has no dialogue throughout as Clay is a mute, his silent actions are evidence that this actor is not one who doesn't need lines to act the role of his career. To a lesser-talented actor, this restriction might have resulted in a poor performance but does not.

"The Passion of Darkly Noon" Review
By Russell Hill

The forest itself is almost an extra character, paralleling the tone of events with a transformation from sun-dappled boughs to shadow-casting skeletal fingers. In many ways Callie is the Beauty, fair of heart and body, Darkly the beast of the woods and Clay the valiant but dumb (literally) knight.

Review: The Passion of Darkly Noon
By Damian Cannon
Movie Reviews UK

You will find all previous Quotables

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Miramax / Zenith.

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Lejos de los Hombres Madrid event

Source: Institut Francais.
Found By: Chrissie
Chrissie brings us this news that Viggo will be presenting Lejos de los Hombres at a special screening at the Institut Français in Madrid on 26 November 2015.

Full details HERE.

Images © Institut Francais.

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Last edited: 25 November 2015 10:57:50