Paul Verhoeven – Elle (2016)

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Quote:
Who else but Isabelle Huppert could have played Michèle Leblanc, the eponymous heroine of Paul Verhoeven’s Elle? The exuberant gravitas, the unapologetic condescension, the classily managed aggression that only the most French of faces could ever entertain—Huppert reduces us to our prosaic mortality with a glance, the pursing of her lips, the nearly imperceptible raising of an eyebrow, or the perverse delivery of a syllable. Perhaps a syllable like “oh…,” the title of the Philippe Djian novel on which the film is based. This is the “oh…” of deflating disappointment, but also of the most calculating seductions; the feminine “oh…” of flirtation; the theatrical “oh…” of predators posing as prey; the “oh…” of orgasms authentic and feigned. Continue reading

Paul Verhoeven – Steekspel AKA Tricked (2012)

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Director Paul Verhoeven returns to the camera for this unique comedy drama surrounding a birthday party that goes horribly wrong for the host. The film was written via crowd-sourcing (close to 400 writing credits in all), with Verhoeven and his writing team of Kim van Kooten and Robert Alberdingk Thijmeach cherry picking the best parts of the scripts that were submitted after each segment of the film was shot and screened. Continue reading

Paul Verhoeven – Turks fruit aka Turkish Delight (1973)

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Glenn Erickson wrote:
Called in turn a Dutch Love Story, a horrible mess of tastelessness, and great art, Turkish Delight was made by a filmmaker dedicated to the concept of shock. This is as earthy as honest filmmaking gets: Billy Wilder in interviews claimed that interaction between real lovers doesn’t stop at bourgeois niceties (such as Marlene Dietrich spitting toothpaste in her lover’s face in A Foreign Affair) but here Paul Verhoeven goes full out with an intimate relationship seemingly without borders. Most bodily functions get involved; Verhoeven’s philosophy seems to be that real commitment is messy, and he wastes no opportunity to rub our noses in this fact.

This insistence on in-your-face, blunt depictions of all kinds of activity (some not so ‘shocking’, just unexpected) does make Turkish Delight fascinating. It starts with full frontal male nudity & masturbation and goes on from there – and the really ‘shocking’ thing is that with all the ‘nasty’ content, the film never seems exploitative or less credible than any other intimate romance. Just more honest … ? And certainly more messy. Continue reading