Festival de ‘Usual Suspects’: Basic Instinct (1992) de Paul Verhoeven

April 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

For Halloween 2015, I produced a short video tribute to giallo cinema for online film publication 4:3. Had I seen this Verhoeven picture beforehand, I would almost certainly have included any one of several moments that seem lifted from if not merely inspired by that Italian horror/thriller sub genre. Even the pulpy plot, which finds San Francisco detective Nick “Nicky” Curran (Michael Douglas) becoming increasingly entangled with a sexily icy/icily sexy novelist who may or may not be translating her fictional homicides into actual homicides, is somewhat reminiscent of Dario Argento’s Tenebre. But ultimately, more than it is a not-so-sly tribute to Hitchcock’s Vertigo (that alabaster outfit!) or giallo or what have you, Basic Instinct is a Paul Verhoeven film through and through, unabashedly unshy and impeccably crafted. Perhaps it has to do with his pre-cinema background in the world of mathematics and physics, but there is something thrillingly calculated about Verhoeven’s ability to construct what are – in my opinion – first-rate mainstream entertainments that end up becoming cult classics due to misappreciation. Then again, perhaps it’s this very calculatedness that leads to accusations of ‘superficiality’ and ‘hollowness,’ rendering his films contentious, utterly working for some while utterly not working for others. Well, I guess this cannot be helped. As for Sharon Stone in her role as paperback-writing titillator Catherine Tramell, it’s a travesty that her vagina’s infamous split-second cameo has upstaged what is a perfectly calibrated performance, in the context of the film and its tonal fabric, that is. Which is how every performance should be judged: In context.

 

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