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Posted: July 18, 2014 at 2:06 a.m.

Under the Skin,

directed by Jonathan Glazer

(R, 108 minutes)

Under the Skin is the sort of movie on which cult reputations are made.

Few audience members are going to stand for this sort of artistic ambition in their space alien movies. A lot of moviegoers are going to be baffled by this film, and they're not going to like it. On the other hand, a vocal minority of folks are going to be dazzled by it. Some will still be talking about it in 30 years.

Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as an otherworldly being, often naked or close to it, who trolls the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, in a white panel truck looking for lonely working-class males. She stops, ostensibly to ask for directions in a charming British accent. She gets them in the truck, takes them back to a ruin of an apartment, where she plies them with the promise of sex and they get what can only be described as processed.

While this isn't the sort of film that allows for a lot of histrionics, Johansson has an unnerving way of shifting from clinical detachment to engaging humanoid without jamming the gears. The transition is all the more chilling for its seamlessness. She's to be praised for her willingness to take this role, which basically allows director Jonathan Glazer to use her image and persona in service of an unsettling and unflinching yet ultimately beautiful film that can be read in a myriad of ways.

Rio 2 (G, 101 minutes) A colorful, well-choreographed, and energetic animated musical, Rio 2 carries on the story and characters from 2011's Rio with Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (voice of Anne Hathaway) and their three youngsters as they depart their beloved city for the wilds of the Amazon. With the voices of will.i.am, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Kristin Chenoweth; directed by Carlos Saldanha.

Open Grave (R, 102 minutes) Yet another apocalyptic horror thriller -- more like a work in progress with potential that's never quite realized -- in which Jonah (Sharlto Copley) wakes up in a deep hole filled with bodies and no idea who he is or why he is there, a situation shared by a group of terrified strangers he encounters when he escapes the pit and breaks into a nearby house. Things go downhill from there. With Thomas Kretschmann, Josie Ho; directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego.

Road to Paloma (R, 91 minutes) A couple of motorcycle-riding outlaws -- one an American Indian (Jason Momoa) and the other a struggling musician on the run from a damaged marriage (Robert Mollohan), hit the open roads of the American West together. Destination: unknown. With Lisa Bonet, Sarah Shahi, Wes Studi; directed by Momoa.

The Face of Love (PG-13, 92 minutes) You'd think with a cast that includes Annette Bening and Ed Harris, this gentle story of grief, loss and romance would be a winner. Sorry to say it's not all that. But Bening and Harris do a heckuva job despite being stuck with a lame, incomprehensible script and an inattentive director (Arie Posin). Bening plays widowed Nikki, who meets and falls for Tom (Harris), a guy who looks exactly like the husband she'd lost a few years earlier. With Robin Williams, Amy Brenneman, Jess Weixler.

Stage Fright (R, 88 minutes) Stage Fright, an overly gory and not quite successful example of the horror satire genre, takes on stage musicals and mini-divas via teenager Camilla (Allie MacDonald), the daughter of a Broadway superstar, who dreams about a future like that of her (late) mother's while drudging away in the kitchen of an uppity performing arts camp run by former producer Roger McCall (Meat Loaf). Desperate for a chance to show off her talents, Camilla connives a way to audition for a showcase at the camp and lands a plum role. Then drat! Wouldn't you know it? Amid all the singing and dancing, people start to die, violently. With Minnie Driver; directed by Jerome Sable.

MovieStyle on 07/18/2014