29 January 2005

Verhoeven (1980-1983)

1980 - Spetters - In a way, this is nouveau-Soldaat van Oranje, with modern life in Holland replacing WWII. Again, we follow a group of men (and women this time) whose experiences in life (rather than the war) separate them onto wildly different tracks. Standing up to the old man, buying a business instead of hopelessly racing bikes, and stopping whoring yourself out are all ways to grow up in this film. Mature, I suppose, but the bike racing and whoring were much more fun to watch.

1983 - De Vierde Man [The Fourth Man] - A sudden change in Verhoeven's style. Suddenly, he's talking about adults and using loads symbolic imagery. The film was a bit ham-handed with the symbolism; I don't need to be reminded with a flashback that the key Mary carried in the dream is the same as the one on Gerard's keychain. Still, it was fun to put the pieces together. I wish the satisfying open-ended "is he nuts or was it real" ending was used in Verhoeven's future Total Recall.

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22 January 2005

Verhoeven (1977)

1977 - Soldaat van Oranje [Soldier of Orange] - Interesting to see WWII from the Dutch perspective. Despite its length and subject matter, the movie never reaches epic status. Similarly, it seems, the Netherlands's role in the war was the same. The film was also unique in that, though it follows a group of men like many war movies, all of the men trace very different paths through the war and none of them are ever shown in traditional, front-line combat. As far as Verhoeven's historical films go, this is an improvement over Keetje.

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16 January 2005

Verhoeven (1975)

1975 - Keetje Tippel [Katie Tippel] - Sort of a more elaborate, period version of Wat Zien Ik. Both follow strong women living in Amsterdam as they navigate through and battle with a cruel culture. In other words, this is a step back for Verhoeven from the level of Turks Fruit. Keetje doesn't grow at all as a person; she just lucks her way from the (literal) gutter into the upper class. As such, I don't think the film has much of a point, other than the zinger at the end: "What you saw was all true!"

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14 January 2005

Verhoeven (1971-1973)

1971 - Wat Zien Ik [Business is Business] - Fairly pointless character piece concerning a prostitute in Amsterdam. Maybe it's because this was his first big film, but Verhoeven seems like he's holding back. The number of amusing fetishes he squeezed into the film is notable, however. Due to cultural differences, I can't help but feel like I missed a lot of the humor.

1973 - Turks Fruit [Turkish Delight] - From the first scenes of fantasized violence, to Erik's first scatological line in the movie, I immediately knew Verhoeven wasn't going to hold back this time. This was exactly what this whirlwind, nothing-withheld love story needed; we can really see why Erik loved Olga so damned much. I was also impressed with Hauer's subtle character work. In the hands of anyone else, this probably would've been degraded into cheap melodrama (man finds love of his life, loses her, and she dies from a brain tumor), but Verhoeven makes it work on an entirely higher level.

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Verhoeven (opening thoughts)

Santa Claus was generous this year, so I'm ready start my Verhoeven Chronocinethon. What this means is that I'm gonna be watching all of Paul Verhoeven's films in chronological order. As I go through them, I'll post mini-reviews here. It's a couple months of fun for me, anyway.

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