Paul Verhoeven

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Polybius
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#26 Post by Polybius » Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:34 pm

ben d banana wrote:I truly don't believe it's a question of if satire was his intent, but I would like to know how he obviously failed miserably.
If it was a two pronged attempt, to be covertly both satire and idiotic action flick, then it missed it's mark because (as I wrote) most Heinlein purists didn't like it for various reasons and it didn't resonate with the Die Hard crowd.

The satire part obviously worked, but I still question this whole apparent project of his to make these over the top sleaze fests as a vehicle to lampoon the worst aspects of American culture.

I can't believe I've wound up writing this much about a director whose work I generally loathe...

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Andre Jurieu
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#27 Post by Andre Jurieu » Tue Aug 02, 2005 12:27 am

ben d banana wrote:I seriously doubt McMahon has as developed a sense of irony as Verhoeven...
Yeah, I'm sure of that, but every once in awhile the irony creeps in there. There are times (don't ask me to actually give you examples because I seriously couldn't give you specifics) when his product is even taking jabs at the stupidity of blinding patriotism and the idiocy of the audience that cheers the caricatures he creates that employ this ideology, which I find odd since I'd assume these fans are his bread and butter and I'd think it amounts to biting the hand that feeds him. It's kind of the same theory Verhoeven is employing, though their delivery is slightly different - I guess McMahon is using a jackhammer, because it grows annoying quick.
ben d banana wrote:When Friends came out and people applauded it as Seinfeld with a heart I was appalled. What part of the point didn't these people get? Or did they just need things watered down for their delicate sensibilities?
I'm certainly in the same boat. Other than some surface similarities, Seinfeld is miles ahead of Friends in its social critique. Though to be fair, Friends did occasionally poke fun at the shallow nature of its characters.
ben d banana wrote:just as I don't feel the need for explosions and shit in Ozu
Hands down, that is the best line of this entire thread. I guess it's just a difference in tastes concerning delivery, since I sometimes grow tired of Ozu's style as well. :shock:

I'm fairly certain I reduced a large amount of my credibility in those last three paragraphs.
Last edited by Andre Jurieu on Tue Aug 02, 2005 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Polybius
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#28 Post by Polybius » Tue Aug 02, 2005 12:58 am

Andre Jurieu wrote:
ben d banana wrote:When Friends came out and people applauded it as Seinfeld with a heart I was appalled. What part of the point didn't these people get? Or did they just need things watered down for their delicate sensibilities?
I'm certainly in the same boat. Other than some surface similarities, Seinfeld is miles ahead of Friends in its social critique. Though to be fair, Friends did occasionally poke fun at the shallow nature of its characters.
Okay, in the interest of defusing any lingering sourness, and also because I really feel this way, let me say...I agree, completely. If I had ever heard that phrase used in my presence I think I would have laughed out loud, or possibly just attacked whoever uttered it.

"Seinfeld for Idiots"? Maybe.
Last edited by Polybius on Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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flyonthewall2983
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#29 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:00 am

Yeah, I'm sure of that, but every once in awhile the irony creeps in there. There are times (don't ask me to actually give you examples because I seriously couldn't give you specifics) when his product is even taking jabs at the stupidity of blinding patriotism and the idiocy of the audience that cheers the caricatures he creates that employ this ideology, which I find odd since I'd assume these fans are his bread and butter and I'd think it amounts to biting the hand that feeds him. It's kind of the same theory Verhoeven is employing, though their delivery is slightly different - I guess McMahon is using a jackhammer, because it grows annoying quick.
This might be giving him too much credit, considering that some of the WWE's big-name guys are openly Republican (which is the first word I think of when I see blinding patriotism used in a sentence). Hell, even The Rock made an appearance at the 2000 Republican convention, before he was fighting mummies and Christopher Walken at the box office.

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ben d banana
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#30 Post by ben d banana » Tue Aug 02, 2005 2:47 am

Yeah, McMahon and all/most of them are good ol' boys/hardcore Republicans and he has flipped out on interviewers to demonstrate his sub-Eminem sense of humor about himself. Sure he plays with caractures but only to work the audience to intentionally please or disappoint them temporarily with a long term conservative goal/pay off on the agenda.

I'm glad Andre can turn this into a discussion of professional wrestling and me into one about sitcoms. Where's the "Topic Shmopic Forum"?

Certianly no sourness for me either Polybius, but I do think a fair amount of Starship Troopers' decent business, esp in the wake of Showgirls, was as idiot action flick, which seemed to resonate with at least one of Andre's friends.

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david hare
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#31 Post by david hare » Tue Aug 02, 2005 4:21 am

at last we get to the point!

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Andre Jurieu
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#32 Post by Andre Jurieu » Tue Aug 02, 2005 11:45 am

ben d banana wrote:I'm glad Andre can turn this into a discussion of professional wrestling and me into one about sitcoms.
I'm not going to lie to you ben. I take some small semblance of satisfaction in the fact that these topics disgust our more high-brow, sensitive, and gentle forum-members.
flyonthewall2983 wrote:This might be giving him too much credit, considering that some of the WWE's big-name guys are openly Republican (which is the first word I think of when I see blinding patriotism used in a sentence).
ben d banana wrote:Yeah, McMahon and all/most of them are good ol' boys/hardcore Republicans... Sure he plays with caricatures but only to work the audience to intentionally please or disappoint them temporarily with a long term conservative goal/pay off on the agenda.
I'm not doubting their overall agenda, and it's quite obvious most of these guys are conservative and Republican. However, I'm just saying when you're entire industry is based upon using caricatures to "get-over" on one another in order to make certain demographic groups cheer, it often leads to strange scenarios that sometimes subvert the underlying ideologies normally embraced by the fan-base. I think a couple months ago I saw some fat-ass southern wrestler dressed up in an Uncle-Sam outfit openly talking about American imperialism tactics, only to have him mocked by some gigantic Hispanic dude who the crowd started cheering for. Didn't really expect that from these people during "our struggle against extremism". Of course, I'm sure the next match was some Arab getting beaten down by a biker, so it may all be moot.

Anyway, my initial comparison was not made in order to actually start discussing pro-wrestling as a serious topic (that's kind of an oxymoron), but to say that when someone, such as Verhoeven, is employing such extreme and gaudy tactics, the boundaries he chooses to define himself by as a satirist could be appropriated by the most odd parties. If someone such as McMahon were to claim he is actually functioning as a satirist (and I think he's made such claims in the past with his whole entertainment argument), though we could argue against his abilities, methods, and results, could we really dispute his claim? He appears to be using similar methods to Verhoeven, just with emphasis in different places.

It's just that Verhoeven sort of undermines his own cause by embracing his style so completely. I don't mind lines being blurred in art, but even in interviews he seems to lose his focus and goal. There is a point where he begins to take pleasure and delight in the same excess he wishes to skewer.

During his press for Hollow Man he complained that the studio slashed the scene where Bacon's mad-scientist attempts to rape Rhona Mitra's character. Even if his goal was something greater with that sequence, I'm not really understanding why he needed it to continue past the point. I can understand an artist being frustrated at a compromised product, but he didn't seem to have a real defined goal with that scene. He also kind of discarded that character once he was finished with her, without any real investigation of her condition. His point might be that female characters are often reduced to sexual-objects and discarded within Hollywood films, but that message sure didn't seem to resonate within the film, and I'm not quite seeing how it would have been further demonstrated in a harsh rape sequence. Anyway, I'm just saying his product never seems to stay focused or converge as effectively as any other modest proposal.
flyonthewall wrote:Hell, even The Rock made an appearance at the 2000 Republican convention...
Did anyone ever see the clip of The Rock talking to Arnold? It was floating around the net for awhile when Arnold was running for Governor. I lost it when Schwarzenegger said he certainly "smelled what the Rock was cooking" in the most Wolfcastle manner possible. What a dork. How did that guy ever get elected?
Last edited by Andre Jurieu on Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Polybius
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#33 Post by Polybius » Tue Aug 02, 2005 7:01 pm

Andre Jurieu wrote: Did anyone ever see the clip of The Rock talking to Arnold? It was floating around the net for awhile when Arnold was running for Governor. I lost it when Schwarzenegger said he certainly "smelled what the Rock was cooking" in the most Wolfcastle manner possible. What a dork. How did that guy ever get elected?
Lots of Californians are wondering that about now. One would think the bald faced lies about seeing Nixon and Humphrey debate in '68 (which might have taken place in that universe where the Squadron Supreme was...Obscure Marvel Comics Reference Of The Day), and seeing Soviet tanks in the streets of Austria would've alerted people that he was stuffed full of shit.

I look at McMahon a lot like I look at Rupert Murdoch. They're both Republican tools, but neither has any real truck with the religious wing of that party and either would do anything to sell their respective products. They're both excellent successors to P.T. Barnum.

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Andre Jurieu
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#34 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:00 am

Because if any normal male was invisible, they would spend 99% of their time looking at and abusing as many women as they could... and that's a cold hard fact that the movie barely explored thanks to the spinelessness of either the writer, director or studio (possibly all three).
Well, that point seemed to be made pretty clearly by the scene as is. Everything afterwards would have seemed like overkill, to me anyway. Considering his character makes the decision to do so right away, it seems obvious to me that Verhoeven's perspective is that man will be reduced to animal when he does not have to deal with the consequences tied to identity. Treating Martin like a sex-doll (it's not like Pauly V would stick around to witness the consequences of his lead-characters actions) wouldn't really make me understand his point to any greater degree, but I wouldn't question his cohones afterwards either, which might be his other point.

Thankfully, the Murdoch family will have to navigate through a legal jungle to figure out who is Rupert's successor, not to mention years of sibling bickering and the kids trying to destroy one another. Too bad, there's a large sack of money awaiting the victor. Hopefully by the time it's all over the fortune will be squandered and the corp rendered worthless, but I won't be holding my breath for my wish to be granted.

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paranoid-knight2008
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Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995)

#35 Post by paranoid-knight2008 » Sat May 22, 2010 2:41 am

I don't understand how so many consider this movie unintentionally funny when there are so many signs that the humor is so obviously intended. To get what I'm saying, understand that Showgirls is a satire on Hollywood in so many ways. From setting it in Las Vegas and making it centered around dancers, it's like a big sign when the paparazzi are all over Vegas dancers that the director is being completely tongue-in-cheek. Many moments in the film that most refer to as the most infamously “so-bad-it's-funny” moments actually have situations that prove their humor to be intended. The “I just got here” here line the main character mutters in the beginning... how can someone really say that wasn't intentionally over-the-top and hilarious? The ketchup coming out of the bottle... was that really unintentional? Was the fact that the Molly character in that scene gives a greatly straight-faced comeback stare to her really unintentional? Give me a break... Or another scene in which most refer to as the “screwing the fish” scene in the pool. Do you really think the director was trying to be sexy with that? It's obviously a joke on the lapdance she did to that same guy earlier in the film. Many more scenes that are “unintentionally funny” just have things in them that make them seem so obviously intended. Verhoeven has always been a satirist. This film is no exception, and his humor is boldly here.

Moving on from my mini-bitch rant (haha), the film is quite brilliant, I think. A satire on the Hollywood industry and its dark secrets of sex and violence. This remains so obvious in how Las Vegas is presented as some kind of place of dreams (when it really isn't) and the dancers are seen as paparazzi-chased celebrities (when they really aren't). The film shows, through Nomi Malone (seriously, do you really think the filmmakers weren't being cheeky with that name?), that in order to make it as a big celebrity in the business, you must screw and/or hurt others on the way up that latter. And it's all for you to be famous for a while, because not everyone is famous eternally. “There is always someone hungrier coming up the stairs after you,” Cristal says at the end. Remember how Nomi started out in the stripclub before getting discovered, stripping to Prince's “319”? Now take note how Cristal, no longer the dancing goddess she used to be, is now in hospital room 319. Cristal has dropped back down to where she was before she got big, just as Nomi would soon afterward had she not taken off. Isn't it also amazing to note that when Nomi first gets to Vegas, it's Halloween, and when she hits big as the goddess dancer, it's Christmas?

The way director Paul Verhoeven makes it entirely obvious that the film is satirical on Hollywood's sexual underbelly. What better way to celebrate this than by making the film almost cartoonish in terms of dialogue, but completely colorful, fantastic and superb (even those who dislike the film admit that its a very well-made film with its editing, photography, etc.) in technical terms?

Also take note how the film always has men being dirty, horny bastards and the women always being servants to their needs. Notice the way one of the film's characters, a fellow stripper, sleeps with a guy who promises to make her big in the business. Notice how she never gets anywhere? Now look how Verhoeven studies the way Nomi sleeps with Kyle MacLachlan's character and she hits it big. It's always about sleeping with the right people, isn't it? ;)

Which goes back to a line said earlier in the film: “In America, everyone's a gynecologist.” If you don't get that, and how it connects to the violent and depressing rape scene towards the end of the film, then there's something wrong with you. The fact that the rapist is the character's favorite celebrity is also a big hint. Take note to that and think back on everything else. It makes so much more sense.

Seriously, one underrated film. Glad, though, it hasn't been forgotten, even if for the wrong reasons. If you think about it, the fact that it's remembered as the go-to film for guys to get their eyes looking at loads of boobs is quite ironic to Verhoeven's point with the film in which all the men see nothing more of the women then sex objects.

I love the way Verhoeven casts Elizabeth Berkley in the lead role. Even if it wasn't intentional, isn't it especially great to note that Berkley played a women's rights activist / good girl on that show and then went onto playing a bipolar character who is treated cruelly under the ways of powerful and/or controlling chauvenists in order to get what she wants?

In the end, not much else I have to say. Just felt like getting this rant out.

Thoughts?! :)

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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#36 Post by colinr0380 » Sat May 22, 2010 11:24 am

This was a fun Onion AV Club article on the film, with appropriate clips!

I am kind of fascinated by Showgirls, despite it possibly being the least titillating while being the most sex obsessed film imaginable. It makes an interesting contrast to Basic Instinct where the detective's fascination with Sharon Stone only really becomes understandable if the audience is fascinated with her too, to the point of overlooking (or overruling) all the obvious flashing 'icy murderess' signals that she gives off! Nomi in Showgirls has absolutely no charisma whatsoever, just muderous anger at even the smallest things, so there is no real way for the audience to actually identify with her situation. But that's OK because everyone else is horrible too, so they all deserve each other! (Except for Molly, but more on her later)

I wonder if the charisma void surrounding all the characters is actually a comment about the unimportance of narrative - the 'rising star' story has been so played out over the decades that there is very little left to actually say with it, so beyond using the rather blunt theme of stripping to stand for all kinds of prostitution for money and fame (and as a rather calculated way of getting as much nudity into the picture as possible!), there is very little novel in the actual plotting. The archetypal plot is thoroughly trashed through the mechanics driving it being totally exposed by the way that all the elements that normally grab an audience's sympathy and interest only inspiring shocked laughter. So as well as the sex being unsexy the plot is also both rehashed from more celebrated films and exposes their manipulative construction and simplistic narratives that they told.

Compared to all the various personas that Catherine Trammell puts on at different times in Basic Instinct (and the way that, as the archetypal thriller paranoia mounts, all women appear to be duplicitous and dangerous, and mostly with very little need for men), all the Showgirls characters are completely surface based and everyone seems to be unable to filter out what they think from what they say, no matter how stupid or hurtful it might be - no emotion is displayed without being written in ten foot high flashing neon; no argument is a subtle battle of wits when it can be a knife wielding, crotch kicking, hair pulling, monkey spanking piece of choreographed rough and tumble.

It strangely feels like a premonition of all those numerous drunken, inarticulate, half naked arguments on any series of Big Brother over this last decade! All obsessed with getting a tawdry form of fame but simultaneously working to demystify their dreams by their participation in a parody of what true fame really means (the era of being 'famous for being famous', where looks and behaviours that appeal to the biggest audiences and are tailored to fit into particular preconceptions are more prized than any particular thing that a person does or piece of work that shows individuality), just as the unerotic sex is a parody of a real and meaningful act.

And of course then we come to Molly the costume designer - the only person who appears to work contentedly behind the scenes as an enabler rather than throw herself fully into the bare breasted, sex as a dry-humping stage show, action. Which makes her rape all the more disturbing, since she's the only character that such an assault might actually affect - everyone else has been too busy selling themselves to care, but Molly's an (again archetypal) 'normal' person who doesn't seem to realise the dangerous world she was getting into - that beneath all the parody there is a core of horrible, brutal truth that all the other characters but her appear to have internalised.

It certainly feels of a piece with Starship Troopers which shifts the focus of course onto gung-ho patriotism rather than Showgirl's corporatisation and commercialism of the body, but strangely ends up feeling as if it says many of the same things especially in the way that the initial outsider figures come to embody the ideals of the society in its purest terms (of course RoboCop fits in here too). Sex is war and vice versa.

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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#37 Post by Feego » Sat May 22, 2010 3:31 pm

I just saw Showgirls for the first time recently, and I totally see where paranoid-knight is coming from. I, too, don't understand why so many people can't see that the humor was intentional. That doesn't mean, of course, that everyone has to think the satire is successful, but mistaking this kind of relentlessly in-your-face outrageousness with naive camp is just crazy, ESPECIALLY coming from Verhoeven. After RoboCop, Basic Instinct, and Total Recall, what did people expect from a Verhoeven film about strippers in Vegas?

Anyway, here's a great article on the film by Charles Taylor from Salon.com.

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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#38 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:45 pm


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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#39 Post by Dead or Deader » Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:49 pm


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hearthesilence
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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#40 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Jun 24, 2018 10:37 pm

I saw Showgirls at MoMI - it's not one of my favorites from Verhoeven (the campier aspects are occasionally tough to enjoy), but it has aged surprisingly well. Just as Starship Troopers packs a lot more punch in the wake of the Iraq War and now the rise of xenophobia and the resurgence of fascism, Showgirls does reflect the current confrontations with sexual exploitation in the entertainment business (and really the culture). Kyle MacLachlan is superb, perhaps the one actor who feels completely organic to the world within the film.

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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#41 Post by nolanoe » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:49 pm

I saw it a few years ago (2 years?) with my then girlfriend, 35mm. And I agree - it holds up amazingly well. I have no clue why it garnered the hate it did.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#42 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:07 pm

I actually remember when it came out, and it was easy to see why - campiness rarely goes over well unless it's blatant and very broad to the point of self-mockery. And Verhoeven didn't have the cachet of a respected director among the general audience - he was probably lumped in with the very commercial likes of Michael Bay, which would suggest that his films were widely looked at with a lot less thoughtfulness by casual moviegoers. Combined with the highly sexual nature of the subject matter, and the odds were always stacked against it, at least in the U.S.

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Re: Paul Verhoeven

#43 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:48 pm

My remembrance of Showgirls dates back to seeing it because a boy in my class had acquired a copy of it on either DVD or VHS and I was like twelve. All I remember about it is how uncomfortable it made me at the time because it seemed to attempt to say something commentary wise while relishing the fact that Elizabeth Berkley was very naked quite a lot of the time. I distinctly remember laughing at at least three sequences where MacLachlan is dry humped into oblivion, the monkey applying make up and that sequence in the pool.

All the other boys thought it was the greatest thing ever. I'm still confused by it.

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