Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Creutzfeld-Verhoeven Disease

Soldier of Orange
1977, The Netherlands
Paul Verhoeven

Recently, studies have shown that injecting stem cells into the brains of mice suffering from Alzheimer’s may clear away the amyloid plaque that builds up in the cerebellum, indicating that there may one day be a cure for whatever’s causing Paul Verhoenven to make terrible movies. As evidenced by Soldier of Orange, and to a lesser extent Spetters, Verhoeven once had the ability to construct a cogent narrative, develop characterization, and stage action scenes all at the same time, whereas now, he’s so far gone into dementia he cast Jessie from Saved By The Bell in a lead role.

That's a real good way to get a cold sore.

Soldier of Orange has nearly everything you could want in a war film: action, subterfuge, and Rutger Hauer’s penis, thrown in to placate women still wet from being obsessed with Blade Runner in high school. Set in the Netherlands during the Second World War, the film follows a group of University students whose lives are changed when the Nazis invade. Some live, some die, and most show their genitals. The highlight of Verhoeven’s career, everything went downhill after this film. For a while, as in Robocop and Showgirls, it seemed like he might be doing it on purpose, like a crazy old man who shits his pants not because he’s incontinent, but because he can get away with it. Sadly, it quickly became apparent that he was just losing his mind. And he’s not the first to suffer from director’s Mad Cow.

  1. Ridley Scott. First, he made The Duelists, a light-hearted but beautifully shot period piece. Then, he did Alien, probably the best science-fiction film ever made for people who couldn’t sit still through 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then, the stress of trying to make Tom Berenger a star in Someone To Watch Over Me tore his mind apart, and before you knew it, G.I. Jane was being seriously pitched as the title for a drama.

  1. John Dahl. Revisionist film noir? Check. Low-key Western crime thriller? Check. Movie about killer truck? Awesome. That’s like authoring Wuthering Heights and then taking a job writing copy for AM radio.

  1. John Singleton. From the youngest person to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar to the only person to have seen his own film 2 Fast 2 Furious, all in just 12 years. Quite an accomplishment.

If you ask me, I blame Hollywood. Or Canadian beef.


Blogger The Blair Hippo Project said...

Verhoven confuses the bejesus out of me.

When he cranks-out yet another piece of crowd-pleasin' sex-and-violence-laden schlock, he will occasionally, apparently for the hell of it, work in a great subversive subtext that you don't have to be an overeducated film wank to get.

Total Recall appears to be a garden-variety Ahh-nold sci-fi shoot-em-up; it's actually about a blue-collar worker lobotomizing himself with a masturbatory tough-guy fantasy inserted directly into his brain. Starship Troopers looks like an exercise in gratuitous boobies, gratuitous bug-blastin', and a weird embrace of fascism; it's actually the "War-as-adventure" movie the society depicted in the movie would make.

And then you have Hollow Man. This movie looks like an ill-conceived clothesline for (admittedly bitchin') special effects. The villain's "descent into madness" is a wee bit short and obvious, given that he was already stockpiling huge piles of bat-shit insane in his mental basement before the movie even starts. Never exactly rich in interesting ideas, it completely runs out of creative steam in the third act and becomes a goddamn slasher flick. In the end, stuff gets blowed-up real good.

But on further examination ... it's still a piece of shit.

Yet it took me about three viewings to come to this conclusion.

That's the thing about Verhoven; when I hate one of his movies, I'm not confident it truly sucks; part of me suspects there's a joke I'm just not getting.

Then again, I did wind up watching Hollow Man three times. Ha-fucking-ha, Verhoven.

2:22 a.m.  

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