4 items from 2014
By Rod Barnett
There have been entire books dedicated to the cinema of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven and with good reason. Known for pushing the envelope of what is acceptable onscreen in both sexuality and violence, his movies have been celebrated and condemned - often by the same critic at different times! To one degree or another I have enjoyed every Verhoeven film I've seen all the way back to the brilliant Soldier of Orange (1977) but it was RoboCop (1987) that stomped across the world and made it possible for the madman to make nearly anything he wanted. I wonder what would have happened if this film - his first English language effort- had not been a huge financial success. Would we have had a series of progressively worse sequels with Rutger Hauer ravishing maidens and slaying nobles for gold? Maybe in a better world.....
Flesh + Blood (1985) takes place in Western »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
A film easy to admire but equally hard to love, Paul Verhoeven’s 1985 film Flesh+Blood, his last title to make it to DVD about a decade ago, gets an exciting Blu-ray transfer this month. Notable in multiple regards, this was the last infamous collaboration between Verhoeven and his star Rutger Hauer, the pair having completed five previous films. Reportedly a grueling shoot, and the rising tensions between director and star didn’t help anything, this was also Verhoeven’s first English language film, the first time he didn’t use storyboards, and the last film he would make in his native Netherlands for two decades. While this sounds like a recipe for disaster, there is more to praise than damn in this ambitiously realized portrait of Medieval Europe that’s worthy of reconsideration.
It’s Western Europe in 1510, and amidst the bloodletting, Bubonic plague, and scourging of lands, a »
- Nicholas Bell
The Paul Verhoeven filmography screens at the Tiff Bell Lightbox through April 4th, culminating in a screening of his new “crowdsourced” film, Tricked.
Common wisdom dictates that cynicism and sentimentality are carefully linked, if not outright synonymous. In filmic terms, the most comfortable formulation of that argument is to align, for instance, romantic comedies with socially-acceptable (and, often, utterly noxious) notions of gender politics. Through the deployment of relationships and character profiles that support popular notions of how women and men behave, these movies are able to exploit comfortable mores in order to mainline easy pathos. What’s less common is to consider how that relationship between affect and effect can be subverted, perhaps because it’s relatively rare for truly subversive artists to be handed the proverbial keys to the kingdom.
- Simon Howell
The Olympics are a good reminder about embracing the talents that the whole world has to offer, which here, means delving into works of national cinema. Movies from overseas are too often unfortunately lumped into the nebulous, unexciting and broad "Foreign" category. National cinema, on the other hand, refers to a film made in and about a certain country, that helps illuminate and define it both narratively and artistically. Foreign, yes. Awesome, definitely. Australian cinema is one of my personal favorites, because it is usually so closely tied in with its sense of place and culture, uniting both stifled colonialism and the freedom (and occasional terror) of a wild, natural setting. The following films are a few of the best, but often overlooked, from Australia's rich cinematic reservoir. Also as a reminder: if you don't currently have the streaming service paired with each film, search the one(s) you do »
- Allison Keene
4 items from 2014
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