Sunday, September 12, 2010

Basic Instinct (1992)


Starship Troopers. 

Total Recall. 


Hollow Man....and

Basic Instinct. 

Well, hello there Ms. Stone.
What do all of these fine American films have in common?’s not my current Netflix queue.  They were all directed by one of my new favorite people in the film industry, Paul Verhoeven.  I want to meet this man.  I want to know his mind.  His twisted, beautiful mind.  What else do all of these films (except Hollow Man) have in common?  The best way I can describe it is that they are all “infamous” films.  They’re not bad films per se, and they’re definitely not good films either.  But I get the feeling that Mr. Verhoeven isn’t seeking to make “good” films.  Rather, he is seeking to make something provocative.  Whether the shock value comes from warped sci-fi action as in Starship Troopers & Totall Recall, or sexually in Showgirls & Basic Instinct, Verhoeven wants us to see something that we have not seen before.  They are all well-known films, but not because they are good. 

So, with a vague awareness of Paul Verhoeven’s films as well as the film itself, I recently sat down on a Saturday morning with my cup of coffee, my wife and dog, and...Basic Instinct.  And what a pleasant Saturday morning it was. 

As far as plot outlines go, if you haven’t seen it, all you really need to know is that it’s about a cop (Michael Douglass) is in charge of the investigation of a murder, in which the prime suspect is a beautiful young woman (Sharon Stone).

Basic Instinct may literally be the most unintentionally funny film I have ever seen. The pure sincerity of Michael Douglass and Sharon Stone as they speak some of the cheesiest lines in film history.  The brash confidence of Ms. Stone as she unclothes herself over and over, no matter who may be watching.  The various murder scenes playing out like some sort of 70’s teen-slasher homage.  The whole thing is just one entertaining romp after another.  My wife and I were laughing through the entire thing. 

And speaking of homage, the movie is largely a deranged homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, one of my personal favorite films.  Both movies take place in San Francisco, involve murder investigations, and follow the leading men as they trail their respective femme fatales down the rabbit hole of seduction and desire.  The ironic thing is that the film with no gratuitous sex, graphic nudity, and provocative violence and language (Vertigo) accomplishes exactly the reaction that Verhoeven sought to invoke with those things in Instinct.  The payoff in Vertigo is so huge because of what it doesn’t show, whereas the payoff in Instinct is comparatively tiny because of what it had already shown, if that makes sense. 

Verhoeven is quoted as saying that he wanted this to be the first mainstream film ever released that had full frontal male nudity.  Well, fortunately for me, this didn’t actually come to pass.  But he did manage to make something that is provocative as all get-out and incredibly fun because of how serious it takes itself. 

Oh, and then, there’s the infamous “leg-crossing scene” (see above).      

(Note: please, try your hardest not to judge me for watching this film)

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