Showing posts with label Paul Verhoeven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Verhoeven. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 February 2013


The first of Dutch Director Paul Verhoeven’s three English language cult sci-fi films, Robocop is a movie that owes a great debt to the comic book character Judge Dredd and was inspired by Blade Runner. In the near future Detroit is a city on the verge of collapse. There are no jobs and criminal gangs run the streets. The mega-corporation OCP runs the battered up police force and hopes to create a new super-city in the ruins of Detroit. To clean up the streets they design an automated robot cop but when tests go badly they return to the drawing board. Veteran cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is out on patrol with his new partner Officer Ann Lewis (Nancy Allen) when he encounters a criminal gang. The cops chase the gang to an abandoned mill where Murphy is brutally killed. OCP use what is left of Murphy’s body to create a new version of their robotic policeman – Robocop.

I saw Robocop when I was in my early teens at remember thinking it was pretty violent and cool. Now aged twenty-six and twenty-five years after the movie’s initial release, I found the film had aged very badly and wasn’t anywhere near as fun as I remembered. The violence though, remains.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Black Book

Paul Verhoeven’s tale of injustice, romance, duplicity and war is one of just a handful of films I’ve watched twice this year. I saw it first in early January and was blown away by the story and acting and jumped at the chance to watch it for a second time. Carice van Houten, best known to English speaking audiences as fiery Priestess Melisandre in Game of Thrones plays a young Jewish woman in hiding from the Nazis in the Dutch countryside towards the end of the Second World War. After her hiding place is destroyed and following a traumatic encounter with the Germans she joins the Dutch resistance, going undercover inside the German Headquarters in The Hague where she agrees to seduce the local commander (Sebastian Koch - The Lives of Others).

Black Book is a fantastic film which is full of moral ambiguity set in a time of deep mistrust and hardship. One of the greatest things about it is that very few characters can be described as good or bad. The vast majority of the large cast of characters lie in a grey area somewhere in between and I think this adds reality to the film. The film bravely suggests that not all Nazis were bad and that not every resistance fighter was good or moral. There is a great deal of anti-Semitism even amongst the so called good guys. It’s an interesting idea which works incredibly well and helps to keep the viewer on their toes.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Total Recall

"You were dreaming. Doug? Was it about Mars?"

It’s 2084 and bored construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wakes from yet another dream featuring him and a mysterious woman on Mars. Quaid is bored and dislikes his surroundings and tries to get his wife Lori (Sharon Stone) to agree to a holiday on the red planet. She declines. On his way to work Quaid sees an advert for Rekall, a company that implants memories for a fee. He visits them and agrees to a two week implanted holiday on Mars where he’ll also take on the role of a secret agent. While he is being put to sleep but before the memories can be implanted Quaid has a violent reaction, claiming that they have blown his cover. He escapes the facility and after being attacked heads for Mars to uncover who’s trying to kill him and indeed who he is.

I first saw Total Recall about twelve years ago and certain things had stuck in my memory but I couldn’t remember the ending. What I did discover is that my memory of the film was much better than I now think it is.