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Jonathan Glazer

The Zone Of Interest – Jonathan Glazer (2023)

We see a family at a riverside. When they leave in two cars, it is clear that this is not your average, German family. In the next scenes, we follow the family in their busy home. Lots of personnel and many children. The family has a nice house and the lady of the house built a little paradise of a garden with a part for the children (with pool), a vegetable garden with greenhouses, places to sit, etc.

The man of the house does not have to travel far for work. Out of the garden and into the gates of the concentration camp Auschwitz that Rudolf Höss helped to build and which he manages. The house and the garden of the Höss family borders immediately to an outer wall of the camp.

Glazer mostly shows the daily life of the Höss family. Raising children, tending the garden, receiving family, but also receiving Rudolf’s colleagues and subordinates for business meetings. In the background you constantly hear the low rumbling of the ovens and every so often a guard shouting to a prisoner, gunfire, etc. The family seems to have grown used to these sounds (and the smell?) and live their quiet lives outside the wall enjoying the sun and the river that flows nearby.

Höss is portrayed as a man good as his job. He makes the institute ever more efficient and even though he makes long hours, he finds time to spend with his children, in the garden or in nature and to read a book. In spite of him doing a great job, Höss is told that he will be transferred. His wife goes far in order to be able to stay in her paradise.

There are a few scenes outside of the Höss house, first at Rudolf’s offices and later at a meeting of camp managers.

It is mostly what you do not see that makes this film a fairly hard watch. Everybody knows what is going on in the camp, but that is good for the country, is it not? The Höss family is just doing their part and we are watching them do just that.

Under The Skin * Jonathan Glazer (2013)

“Under The Skin” is a very weird film, very slow, very minimalistic and without much of a story. We follow the “female” (Scarlett Johansson) driving around the cities (and later the villages) of Scotland trying to pick up men. When she does, she takes them to some place and a completely surrealistic scene follows only to return to the next pick-up attempt.

The film reminds a bit of “Holy Motors” in weirdness and storylessness, the surrealistic scenes perhaps of “Beyond The Black Rainbow“.

Besides “the female”, there are one and later two motorcyclists who have a part in the dealings of “the female”, or do they? There is no indication as to what their part in the story is. As the film continues it becomes clear that “the female” is not entirely ‘normal’.

As you can see “Under The Skin” is not your ‘average Johansson film’. To watch this you will have to be able to watch a meditative and completely weird film without a story and without much explaning. Like the earlier mentioned “Holy Motors”. Personally I quite like something weird like this every now and then.

Birth * Jonathan Glazer (2004)

Indeed it was because Glazer’s latest (“Under The Skin”) now plays in Dutch filmhouses that I noticed “Birth”. Birth is about a women who looses her husband and 10 years later a young boy says he is him. The woman (Anna) is wonderfully played by Nicole Kidman. Anna goes from disbelief and denial to doubt and eventually acceptation. Kidman seems to be the only good element of the film though. Other actors are less convincing and especially the story with its terrible conclusion is very weak.
Not a very convincing film. The unlikely basis could (should) have been worked out better.

Sexy Beast * Jonathan Glazer * 2000

Gal (Ray Winstone) is an ex criminal from the UK who lives out his retirement of his stolen fortune in Spain with his wife and a befriended couple. Then they get a phonecall from Don Logan (played by Ben Kingsley best known for playing Gandhi) about a cracking for which he wanted to ask Gal. The friends already know that the terrible Don is not going to take “no” for an answer and when Logan even comes over to ask Gal personally, stress and nervousnous get grip of the friends. When he arrived, Gal tries to tell Logan a couple of times that he isn’t interested, but indeed Logan doesn’t take “no” for an answer which results in some serious collisions. Eventually Gal does go to London, but since Logan is dead, he has another problem.

“Sexy Beast” is the first film of Jonathan Glazer and I read about it quite some time ago. The original plans were to release it only on video in Europe, but when the film was a big success in the States and European critics wrote ravingly about it, it was anounced for European cinemas. Eventually this turned out (for me) only 5 cinemas in the Netherlands (closest at 100 km) and one in Belgium (140 km). DAMN! Then (big surprise) there was one play in my hometown! Bad news, one time, saturdaynight 00:00 (12 am)…
But so I went. The film is often compared to “Snatch”, but I don’t entirely agree with that. Okay, both are crime-films, “Snatch” is more funny, but also “Sexy Beast” has some grim humour. A big difference lays in the essembly (?) of the films. “Snatch” is more like one film without much flash-backs, etc., “Sexy Beast” does have flash-backs, but more in a dark way, even reminding of David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” sometimes. Further: strange camery-positions, great special effects and wonderfull acting. Sometimes “Sexy Beast” is completely brilliant, but at other times not so. Overall I liked the film, but I don’t think it is as brilliant as some people say.