January 16, 2014

TIFF: Films in Flesh + Blood: The Films of Paul Verhoeven

If there’s one director I miss in Hollywood these days, it’s Paul Verhoeven. He was always at his best doing ultra-violent and satirical sci-fi like RoboCop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers.

TIFF in Toronto will be featuring a retrospective on the legendary director staring on January 24th with a screening of Business Is Business; Total Recall will be screening on February 28th, Robocop will be on March 7th and Starship Troopers will be screening on March 21st.

All of his other movies will be screened like Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Flesh and Blood and Hollow Man.

I will be there to watch Total Recall and RoboCop as I think I missed them on the big screen originally.

If you live in the Toronto area, check out the TIFF website and book your tickets.

Here is what the TIFF website says about the legendary director below:

“While there are certainly other filmmakers whose career journeys have been as strange as that of Paul Verhoeven, there are few who have so blithely and cheerfully embraced that journey’s contradictions. A national hero in the Netherlands and an emerging art-house superstar on the international festival circuit after his Dutch features Turkish Delight, Katie Tippel, Soldier of Orange and The Fourth Man, Verhoeven nonetheless felt the critical lash early on with the outraged domestic response to his controversial motocross epic Spetters — a precursor for the vitriolic attacks he would receive a short decade later.

Relocating to the US, this one-time art-house darling became the very definition of the crassly commercial Hollywood blockbuster specialist, helming FX-heavy action-movie juggernauts (RoboCop, Total Recall) and bringing a gleamingly expensive sheen to button-pushing sleaze (Basic Instinct). Yet when he pushed big-budget exploitation to its extremes in Showgirls, it proved too much for even Hollywood to handle. Though Verhoeven was not exactly run out of town on a rail following that critically reviled and much-mocked box-office turkey, the middling commercial performance of his follow-ups Starship Troopers and Hollow Man left him wandering in Hollywood’s development wilderness.

And yet resurrection was in the cards for the redoubtable Dutchman. Following the director’s triumphant homecoming to Holland with Black Book in 2006, Verhoeven’s Hollywood career was subjected to a full-scale campaign of critical reclamation (one that continues apace with the release of a new monograph on Showgirls by Toronto critic and TIFF Reel Talk host Adam Nayman). No longer a studio sellout, Verhoeven was reborn as a satirist, a parodist, a burlesque artist whose genuine artistic affinity for the sexual, the scatological and the violent in his “art-house” era had been transformed, during his Hollywood sojourn, into a sardonically grotesque exaggeration of those tropes. Having his cake and eating it too, Verhoeven both exemplified Hollywood vulgarity and exploded it by taking it beyond its usual cheap, compromising timidity, his salacious cinematic appetites not only bridging the always thin division between “art” and “trash,” but those between “serious” and “unserious” and “good” and “bad.”

Marking the Canadian premiere of Verhoeven’s new film Tricked — a “user-generated” movie whose narrative was devised and filmed piecemeal based on suggested story ideas from the public — this much-anticipated retrospective celebrates a filmmaker who, like his hard-driving Showgirls heroine Nomi Malone, has fought his way to critical vindication by wading through the deepest troughs of degradation. And what better to say about such a wilfully vulgar, cheerfully tasteless and undeniably accomplished oeuvre than Nomi’s ultimate term of praise: “Doesn’t suck.”

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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