Cinema Review: Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, September 27th, 2020  

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies

Studio: Quiver Distribution
Directed by Danny Wolf

Aug 14, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies strives to be an exhaustive examination of actors baring all on-screen since the artform’s invention. However, this documentary begins at our current era, because it is so pivotal. Quick recaps of #metoo sex scandals, along with short interviews about newly minted “intimacy coordinators” that protect actresses on-set, are then sharply contrasted with years of rampant Hollywood misogyny.

Director Danny Wolf divides the ensuing 130 minute run time into decade by decade chapters. Snippets of black and white footage turn to technicolor and are interspersed with interviews of the talent involved. Some of the actresses are movingly candid about the exploitation they faced. But that is by no means Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies’ primary focus. Instead, the director laudably, though a bit misguidedly, tries too hard to live up to the documentary’s title. Before long, Wolf strays from the socially conscious theme of the opening moments, and strains to cover seemingly every detail about actors stripping down under the camera’s glare.

That approach has its merits. Where else will you see Blaxploitation legend Pam Grier succinctly, and eloquently, break down the overlaps between sexual repression and racism through the lens of cinema? When would you ever see art house vet Malcolm McDowell dish on the drama behind the 70s classics for which he dropped his drawers? Or how about historians compellingly recounting how Hollywood was once dubbed the “Sodom of the Pacific” and became the front line of a culture clash between auteurs and censors? Having all that and more in the same film makes for an entertaining and informative watch. However, glossing over an encyclopedia or mini-series’ worth of details in the span of a single documentary makes Skin only feel skin deep.

Author rating: 6/10

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