Mario Barth: Under the Skin

"OK"

Mario Barth: Under the Skin Review


Tattoo entrepreneur Mario Barth is juggling two successful businesses (the celebrity-approved Starlight Tattoo and manufacturing sterile ink), a family, and flying across the world to get his tattoo bodysuit worked on. The last part of his busy life is examined in this award-winning documentary, Under the Skin.

The 58-minute film examines one of Barth's trips to Japan, where he gets his tattoo worked on by the legendary Horitoshi family, who specialize in the ancient art of Tebori. It's an elaborate, painstaking work that takes up to eight years of weekly visits and costs around $30,000. And thanks to its illicit connection -- the Yakuza still makes up a goodly portion of the business -- Tebori tattoo is banned by the Japanese government.

Barth's procedure is very hush-hush. Someone actually guides him to the shop (there are no storefronts) and it's rare for anyone in the family to be on camera. But director Billy Burke gets a load of goodies: an interview with tattoo master Horitoshi I (whose goal is for his students to exceed his talents) and shots of the ornate body art. What's even more remarkable is that the Austrian-born Barth is embraced by the clan, participating in cultural events, socializing with them in underground bath houses, and even doing a little late-night jamming.

The documentary offers a revealing look at an illicit practice and its dedicated practitioners and participants, though some questions remain unanswered by Barth and Burke. I would have liked to know what possesses someone to endure years of pain for thousands of dollars, and if the Japanese government is going to change its stance on Tebori anytime soon. And despite the movie's short running time, it feels padded. Though it's cool, seeing a tattoo removed by laser adds nothing to the proceedings. Neither does watching Barth and his friends doing an OK impression of the Allman Brothers Band for nearly three minutes.

Barth's Japanese sojourn and the resulting bonding would be terrific as a subplot to a larger film about his non-stop life. On its own, there's barely enough for a movie.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.