Archive for Paul Verhoeven

DECONSTRUCTING SHOWGIRLS

Posted in Drama with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2013 by Toi Brownstone

SHOWGIRLS, Paul Verhoeven (1995).

Showgirls

When we refer to guilty pleasures we tend to focus only on music. You know, bands or songs you regard them as crap but for some reason you just can’t stop listening to them. I have some hits crushes, but I don’t even consider them worth mentioning, first because I talked about some long time ago, and second because they’re not as shocking as to highlight them.

This time I’m gonna talk about a film, which it’s absolute crap but it’s got me completely hooked: Showgirls, probably Paul Verhoeven’s most epic failure. After his 3 main blockbusters, ultra violent Robocop, the great Total Recall, the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story and Basic Instinct, the film which mean the explosion of success for Sharon Stone, the guy sure had lots of investors ready to support any of his projects, among them Mario Kassar was executive producer of the film, and completely lost his mind.

I watched Showgirls at the theater because Joe asked me to go with him. Yes, sad but true, I had to watch a movie about BITCHES (not hookers) in Vegas as an act of love. Every time I think of it, it’s followed by a face palm. You can imagine I didn’t like it at all and got quite pissed off. Now I remember it as a funny story, one of those weird things to be included in my CV of Toi’s madness.

For no reason throughout the years I’ve developed some short of addiction to Showgirls. It’s not that I regard it as a great movie, and I don’t have folders with captures wrapped on it. No, no way. The truth is that every time I see it on a TV channel, the world stops and I quit whatever I’m doing in that moment just to see Nomi Malone licking the pole, lap dancing, and fucking in a swimming pool. It’s fascinating on one hand, and on the other, kind of therapeutic. I always feel great and have great laugh. In fact I consider it one of the greatest comedy films in the 1990s.

According to Wikipedia:

The term “Showgirls-bad” has been adopted by film critics and fans to refer to films considered guilty pleasures, or “so-bad-they’re-good”.

Seems like I’m not alone in this.

It’s being broadcast on a channel almost twice a week lately. Fortunately I don’t watch much TV otherwise that’d be my mental ruin, but in the last few months I must admit I’ve been wasting my time with it.

Nomi Malone

I HATE Elizabeth Berkley. Perhaps Hate is an excessive feeling, but you know what I mean, I don’t sympathize with her at all. Poor girl, I never liked it either when she was Jessie Spano, the “intelligent” and smart girl in Saved By The Bell. I think her role as Nomi Malone ended with the slight respect someone could feel towards her. Probably she’s done interesting things after showing tits and pussy for 2 hours, but really, who cares? She’s finally become the heiress of the kingdom of trash. Her performance is so bad, so histrionic and exaggerated, you can’t stop laughing. Every time she’s called, or she understands it’s implied, a whore, she gets angry, grabs her stuff and leaves the scene. This happens at least 5-6 times. When dancing, her movements are three times more remarked than the rest of the dancers, and as for the “sexy” scenes, hats off!

rehearsing

When you’re watching a private lap dance scene which intends to be hot and sexy, and you end up giggling, it means Verhoeven stepped out of line. I’ve tried to see this film with more people, and it’s always the same. Everybody ends up laughing, we comment about her pussy in Agent Copper’s face (what the fuck were you doing there? Had you already spent all the Twin Peaks dough or what?), and the thought of the smell of the set of Showgirls comes to my head: pussy, sweet and cheap perfume. Good I wasn’t there considering I’m super sensitive to smells. As for the shag in the swimming pool, that crazy horse riding seemed more like an epileptic stroke.

As for the relationship between Cristal and Nomi…ah! It’s so funny the way Cristal, whose artistic name was chosen after the classy champagne brand, as if it was granted class would come afterwards, is fucking her over, with the nails, the dancing, the hooking thing…but thank God she was there to a craving for the reckless girl, otherwise, she would have remained at Cheetah’s with her boss Robert Davi (the other Agent Johnson)  trying to sneak an occasional  blowjob every once in a while, and we wouldn’t have been provided such amusing moments in the film history. Right after Showgirls, Gina Gershon was hired for playing the role of a lesbian in Bound, and I remember a hilarious chapter of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David was especially out of line on this regard.

nomi and cristal

Showgirls is the story of an outlaw chick who arrives to the promised land in search for fame and fortune, no matter how. From rags to riches topic, but instead of being a mafia story, Verhoeven tried to find gold and glamour diving in the world of the strippers and showgirls, but in a very sordid and shabby way. Ridiculous dialogues, awful performances, shitty soundtrack, terrible choreographies, lots of glossy makeup, tits beyond a limit, pussy smell all over, yet memorable scenes. An irresistible cocktail of crap, and a definite MUST SEE.

ROBOCOP, Paul Verhoeven 1987

Posted in Action!, Directors, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , on March 15, 2009 by Toi Brownstone

robocop-poster

 

Yesterday was a good day for me, not only because Spring seems to be real at last but because I enjoyed a mini buying spree  which  made me feel very very happy. And one of my best purchases was RoboCop. Yeah! Eventually it’s mine and couldn’t wait to see it after so long long time, so as soon as I arrived home we watched it and enjoyed one of the best sci-fi 80s movie, amazed by how I was allowed to watch so much violence in my childhood with no major consequences as nowadays parents and adult people intend to convince that can affect kids in a very wrong way.

 

But let’s focus on the movie first and then open for discussion.

 

Set in Detroit in a not so far away future, the city development is endangered by crime. OCP, Omni Consumer Products executive chief has designed a new Detroit city to be built over the old and damaged city ashes but in order to proceed with the plans crime must be erradicated or at least controlled as not to risk the huge investment, that’s why, Police Department is bought by the company, something not well received by cops, who threat to start a strike which would ruin the city even more if possible. Cops are dying on duty on a daily basis and not enough units are available for patrolling and keeping order, so basically situation is chaos.

 

Dick Jones (Ronny Cox), the old man’s right hand, presents a robot prototype called ED-209 as the solution to end with crime in the city, apparently all tests have proved to be succesful however when showing its abilities to OCP executives the machine fails to commands and kills one of them, something that ambitious Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) approaches to convince the old man that his RoboCop  project could be active in less time for less money and more effectiveness.

Ed-209

Ed-209

On the other hand, on a lower level, in a regular police station, Alex J. Murphy (Peter Weller) starts on duty with officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) as his partner. When tracking down a very dangeruous group of criminals led by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) in to an old mill, Murphy is violently killed with Lewis witnessing the execution unable to protect her partner and no backup available to assist them.

 

Murphy’s remaining parts of his body, basically his face and head, are used for RoboCop project, becoming half man, half robot, with memories apparently erased, for serving and protecting the community, as RoboCop, the cop that can work 24/7, the perfect invincible and most efficient Police arm to eradicate crime in Detroit.

Lewis calibrating RoboCop's gun

Lewis calibrating RoboCop's gun

Everything will work fine until RoboCop starts remembering…and seeks for vengeance.

 

I commented already about Total Recall, which in fact was filmed 3 years after RoboCop. You can guess Verhoeven’s signature in both movies easily with several features in common, both full of violence, futuristic and both box-office hits.

 

RoboCop resists passing of time better than Total Recall except for ED-209 motion scenes which remind of the all Star Wars AT-AT’s and AT-ST’s movements. Well, looking for some information, Phil Tippet, the animation creator, was also involved in Star Wars in stop motion animation. What a coincidence, huh?

 

Regarding the subject I was mentioning at the beginning, violence in this movie is constant, plenty of blood, dramatic execution of Murphy’s, rape attempts, people shot…I don’t remember when I watched RoboCop for the first time, but I’m sure I wasn’t more than 13. Honestly, I didn’t remember so much violence, memories are very selective I guess, but reviewing the the movie yesterday I got very shocked. I don’t remember it to be rated, and it was the typical movie all kids were in love with. We were continuously watching violent movies and nothing happened to us. Nowadays adults try to protect their kids from watching violence on TV due to the apparent consequences it may cause, however news, which are unrated, show blood and violence constantly in a more shocking way, seems that the more you see the more you’re concerned, but nobody criticizes this, only movies and videogames.

 

A different question dealt in RoboCop is the good and bad thing in different aspects. For instance, when creating the Robocop from Murphy first is tried to approach one of his arms, however Morton decides to get rid of it, for once the cop has been officially declared deceased, they can do and manipulate the body in the way they want. Is it correct? Verhoeven lets the audience decide. What about the moment when cops are to execute RoboCop? Lewis and others try to stop the shooting for he/it is just another cop, he’s accomplished the tasks he was designed to, however, because they have been commanded to eliminate him, no reasoning is admitted. Is this right or wrong? The savior suddenly becomes an outlaw.

 

RoboCop is not just an action movie, there’s more meaning or message beyond that, and I find that very interesting. Definitely a good movie to see.

 

TOTAL RECALL, Paul Verhoeven 1990

Posted in Action!, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

Total recall

Another sci-fi screen version of Philip K. Dick’s short novel We Can Remember It For You Wholesale eventually directed by Paul Verhoeven in his good old days after David Cronenberg was rejected by producer Dino Di Laurentiis.

Douglas Quaid is bored of his current life routine and is kind of obsessed with Mars, he even dreams of being there with a dark attractive woman who seems very close to him. His beautiful wife, played by Sharon Stone, is trying to discourage him for the situation in that planet is unstable, many revolts and terrorist attacks are happening and does not think is a good idea to go there on vacation. However his wish is more powerful and becomes interested in Rekall, a company which offers a full pack of memories implanted in his brain thanks to microchip implants, as the most likely experience to get close to the red planet.

Doug buys a pack to Mars as a secret agent and submits to the treatment although he knows there’s a margin of error. During the process something goes wrong and he suffers a violent attack, apparently he’s got memories already, so Rekall main responsible decides to refund him the money and send him back to where he lives omitting all the incident. All of a sudden several people attempt to kill him unsuccessfully, even his own wife Lori, who also confesses he was an actual secret agent and all his life was a set up, for he must not come back to Mars. Obviously his first decision is flying to the planet where he will have to run for his life and recover his memories and even his former girlfriend Melina, and accomplish the mission he was commanded to.

The warrior midget

The warrior midget

Future is depicted pessimistic as in many other movies, and the theme of memories is reflected in Total Recall as it was very relevant in Blade Runner, curiously the first and most famous version of Philip K. Dick’s work. Memories can be erased or implanted and a human being is nothing but memories, so manipulation through them is a very powerful weapon to keep people tied up and controlled.

Total Recall is one of the last hot action movies played by Schwarzenegger and although his capacity for acting is too limited, this did not mean he was not clever enough to get involved in box office hits, the plot is very interesting and catchy based on a high quality story.