“The sooner we admit our capacity for evil the less apt we are to destroy each other.”
Dutch Director Paul Verhoeven said he was “a bit surprised” in winning the Best Foreign Language Picture Golden Globe for Elle last sunday evening (01-08-2017). The Film Elle, receiving positive reviews since it’s May 2016 release, from its critics. The film received a seven-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival international premiere May 21st, 2016. It was also France’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. But did not make the cut of the AMPAS shortlist when it was unveiled last month.
Looking at Verhoeven’s career this doesn’t comes as a surprise, he is practiced provocateur. Verhoeven is for example a Director that copied a lot of shots from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will for Starship Troopers, but the audience simply doesn’t know. Verhoeven, director of a number of sci-fi classics (Total Recall, Robocop, Starship Troopers) and smutty thrillers (Basic Instinct, The 4th Man, Showgirls), is experiencing the critical recognition that eluded him in the past in hollywood and his home country the Netherlands. A man (age 78) that’s simple ahead of his time, and he has proven that yet again with truly brilliant psychological thriller Elle, starring the unique, French actress Isabelle Huppert. In my personal understanding Director Paul Verhoeven is perhaps the most misunderstood Hollywood director which is been using uses pop culture to critique since the 1980’s. This was also stated by the November 17th, 2016 nofilmschool article from Justin Morrow.
Paul Verhoeven on media’s normalization of fascism
Video essayist LJ Frezza (ljfrezza.com), which is an artist who explores the ways that media technologies impact quotidian experience, took a loving look back at how Robocop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers are true commentaries on mass media’s normalizing effect on sexism, militarism, climate change, corporatism, and state-sponsored terrorism. As LJ Frezza argues in this video essay for Fandor Keyframe; Verhoeven’s films are not just “brainless blockbusters,” but “clever critiques of media and pop culture.” (source Watch: Paul Verhoeven Uses Mass Media to Troll Hollywood)
Watch the brilliant video essay below:
Paul Verhoeven’s Mass Media (01:37)
Paul Verhoeven Slams ‘Starship Troopers’ Remake, Says It’ll Be a Fascist Update Perfect for a Trump Presidency
Chris O’Falt, IndieWire; Last year, just in time for a Trump presidency, producers announced a non-satiric Starship Troopers remake was in the works, hewing closer to the fascistic ideology of Heinlein’s book. Verhoeven went off at a special screening:
“Our philosophy was really different [from Heinlein’s book],we wanted to do a double story, a really wonderful adventure story about these young boys and girls fighting, but we also wanted to show that these people are really, in their heart, without knowing it, are on their way to fascism. […] We are living in a very interesting, or you can call it scary times, and of course you would like to do something about it, too. But I think if you go to directly into the now you have no distance… you need to have a certain distance as an artist to the project and not be in the middle of it. So [with] all [that] started to happen lately, I started to read about Hitler and studying 1933 and 1934 in Germany, [which] could be a metaphor that you could use to talk about now.”
Verhoeven in Hollywood
Anyone who’s seen one of Paul Verhoeven’s Hollywood films—notably, the quasi-trilogy of Robocop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers—will automatically recognize their universe. It’s a singular cinematic space: one where traditional Hollywood action movies, the kind that secure big budgets and stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, meets the world of indie film cultural critique. Verhoeven truly is an incredibly dynamic director, Paul Verhoeven’s films could be both satirical and sincere, violent and tender, often all at once. Watch the tribute compilation to Verhoeven’s Hollywood films below, by Martin Kessler (source – nofilmschool.com)
This compilation reminded me again on Michael Miner’s (screenwriter Robocop) and Ed Neumeier’s (screenwriter Robocop) quote from working with Verhoeven on the 1987 cult classic RoboCop.
”A good director can adapt to any kind of genre, to any genre. That’s the key. If the guy’s got talent, he can do anything. And Paul can do anything. I often say that he is a visceralist, not a visualist. Kubrick’s a visualist, he’s very cold and concise, and he wants you to see it, and study. Paul wants you to be reacting like “Shit, the next one might hit me.”
Goes Behind The Scenes Of Paul Verhoeven’s Classic
The short film below, initially released as an extra in the film’s 2002 DVD release, features interviews from various behind-the-scenes personalities, including producer Jon Davison, production designer William Sandell, the late composer Basil Poledouris, cinematographer Jost Vacano, screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, Visual FX Supervisor Phil Tippett, ED 209 creator Craig Hayes and Verhoeven himself, as well as “RoboCop expert” Paul Sammon.
The doc delves into the writing process, the difficulty in finding a director willing to take the material seriously, finding the humanitarian approach to this type of genre material, Peter Weller’s bird-like moving patterns of the titular character and more. “RoboCop” fans should love it. It proves just how meticulous, brave and thoughtful a director has to be in order to make a movie like “RoboCop” work, at least beyond schlock conventions. “It might be my best American movie,” Verhoeven notes at one point, and that might very well be true. Watch the vintage documentary ‘Flesh + Steel – The Making Of RoboCop’, below: (source Will Ashton – theplaylist.net)
What is good, what is bad, and where the boundaries between the two? – La leçon de cinéma de Paul Verhoeven | ARTE Cinema
Paul Verhoeven in his nearly 50-year career and over, again managed to captivate the audience with films in which the themes of sex and violence play an important role. He garnered admiration but also ran cross-border work often violent aversion and resistance. ARTE, a public Franco-German TV network asked Director Elisabeth Zijll Langhout to make a portrait of Verhoeven and his oeuvre. It shows that the director not only enters into an intense dialogue through his films with his audience, but also with himself. What is good, what is bad, and where the boundaries between the two? Watch the full documentary below;
Close Up Verhoeven vs Verhoeven (54:00)
“Hollywood, please finance Paul’s new book an into a feature… “Jesus of Nazareth” (AMAZON). I’d Buy That for a Dollar, Right?
Watch Brian Lehrer’s interview with Verhoeven below: