Monday, September 18, 2006

Speaking Of Paul Verhoeven

Looking for links in the previous post brought me to an essay about STARSHIP TROOPERS which I had to respond to. I don't think people recognize that TOTAL RECALL mostly takes place in the mind of a man who has had a psychotic break; that ROBOCOP is a spoof of the disconnected emotional state of movie police, that SHOWGIRLS is meant to show what your standard backstage musical would look like if it involved REAL performers. People, you don't get Paul Verhoeven!
But honestly, I cannot for the life of me explain HOLLOW MAN.


Michael said...

Thanks for the comments on my student's response to Starship Troopers--I agree.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discourse, the WWII angle on ST. But the response is more correct. Sort of. The Space Marine's (or whatever)uniforms are almost off-the-rack Third Reich, with the billed garrison caps and officers sporting Doppelitzen on their collars.

But I think the comparisons end there, on the art direction level. The uniforms appear so because they look cool. If they reinforce the propaganda-film leitmotif Verhoeven was (clumsily) trying for, so much the better.

I've heard ST called "Betty, Archie and Veronica in Outer Space." That's one interpretation, and strikes the right emotional tone. I think the read of ST being a remake of ZULU is most accurate: Brave soldiers agains an inplacable and unknowably alien force.

Another aspect of Paul Verhoeven's movies (and the probable reason he's taking a stretch right now) is the remorseless hopelessness of his movies. He's the king of the fake uplifting ending, more so than even Douglas Sirk. But bad ends lie just past the credits for all his protagonists.