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STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



I didn't want to legislate "what is horror" because ultimately that would have either meant me making unilateral subjective calls or making a big deal about dozens of procedural votes that would have gotten way too tedious. Provocateurs didn't need Showgirls to qualify, so ultimately its on them, Showgirls, and their advocates to make the case. If we don't think it belongs, we have the vote. Team designers included it, so they took the chance. Maybe it pays off, maybe it tanks the team.

But either way a bunch of people get to make the case for one of the "worst films of all time" is actually "great." And I will do my very best not to turn it into another week of me calling something "trash" and fighting the tide.

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Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment.



Grimey Drawer

Julien Donkey-Boy may be more of a family drama, but it's presented as a nightmare or horrific for most of it's runtime. Within the first five minutes Julian murders a child. It's borderline, yes, but also this is an amazing excuse to watch Julien Donkey-Boy and to see how horror tones can be used in different genres. I'm excited.

For those new to the film, Harmony Korine's uncle Eddie suffers from schizophrenia, and it basically defined Eddie's life, and was a difficult dynamic for the Korine family. Harmony loved his Uncle Eddie, and was always frustrated by depictions of schizophrenia in film, so he decided to make his own film that actually captures what true schizophrenia looks like and feels like, both for the person with it, and for everyone around it. The biggest difference is Julien is undiagnosed and unmedicated. Originally Eddie was supposed to be in the film, but it didn't work out.

Ewen Bremmer went full method with the role. He met and spent time with Eddie, he worked several months at a mental hospital, and researched schizophrenia. He also avoided anyone he knew that wasn't American so he could suppress his Edinburgh accent.

As disturbing as Julien Donkey-Boy may be, I think Korine succeeded in his goals of making a film about schizophrenia. There are a lot of outcasts and beautifully weird people in all of Korine's films, and I think this one is a great example of how he does it without ever feeling exploitative. Ewen Bremmer's depiction of undiagnosed Schizophrenia is frightening because it's so genuine and, in my opinion, thoughtful.

Schizophrenia is terrifying. Not in a "people with mental illness are scary" way, but in a "we are our brains, and sometimes people are just born with brains that interact and define reality different than neurotypical" and that can be very dangerous for people in poverty, without the ability to access healthcare, or in situations where their family refuses to acknowledge it.

Franchescanado fucked around with this message at 14:13 on Apr 23, 2021

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



STAC Goat posted:

But either way a bunch of people get to make the case for one of the "worst films of all time" is actually "great." And I will do my very best not to turn it into another week of me calling something "trash" and fighting the tide.

I mean the critical consensus has been that Showgirls is actually good for years now. If anything, "Showgirls is bad" is now the contrarian position.

married but discreet
May 7, 2005




Taco Defender

Showgirls was always entertaining, it just came out at the Razzie award's height of power. If they deemed a movie "Bad", popular consensus was that it's bad.
I also remember Striptease with Demi Moore being quite good and flying over their idiot heads.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment.



Grimey Drawer

Also important to mention that Showgirls was smeared for trying to popularize the NC-17 rating. There was a puritanical campaign against it's attacks on decency.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



married but discreet posted:

Showgirls was always entertaining, it just came out at the Razzie award's height of power. If they deemed a movie "Bad", popular consensus was that it's bad.
I also remember Striptease with Demi Moore being quite good and flying over their idiot heads.

It was also, to be fair, a high profile box office bomb. And I think in addition to that, after Basic Instinct, a lot of people had the knives out for Esterhas and Verhoeven.

Franchescanado posted:

Also important to mention that Showgirls was smeared for trying to popularize the NC-17 rating. There was a puritanical campaign against it's attacks on decency.

This too.

twernt
Mar 11, 2003

Whoa whoa wait, time out.


Does this mean I need to rewatch Showgirls to vote in good faith?

Tarnop
Nov 25, 2013

The Corridor of Uncertainty



twernt posted:

Does this mean I need to rewatch Showgirls to vote in good faith?

Not at all, plenty of people in this thread have been open about skipping something they've already seen and voting based on memory. The tournament aspect is secondary to the film club fun and the discussions it leads to.

twernt
Mar 11, 2003

Whoa whoa wait, time out.


I definitely appreciate all of the discussion.

In my memory, Showgirls is a 2/5, so it may be worth a rewatch anyway. Honestly if it had not come up in this week's matchup I may have never really thought about it ever again. This could be a sign of some kind.

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



I'll probably rewatch Showgirls because I saw it a lifetime ago and all I remember is it feeling real bad and trashy and Berkley being real bad. So I'll try and see it cleanly, although I'm not sure based on previous films that I'm likely to get on board. But I have very limited experience with Verhoven, so who knows?

I've seen Peeping Tom and didn't much like it, but I don't think it hurt me or anything. So I guess I'll rewatch it. I don't really wanna but its not a Climax situation or anything.

Julien Donkey-Boy feels closer to a Climax situation and I dunno about that one. Game time decision whether I'm gonna watch or not.

poo poo, I forgot to do the links to the movies and availability.

Showgirls is streaming on DirectTV and MaxGo in the US.
Peeping Tom is streaming on Amazon Prime and free on Tubi, Plex, Popcornflix, and Roku in the US.

Mr. Sardonicus is streaming on Flixfling in the US.
Julien Donkey-Boy

STAC Goat fucked around with this message at 14:59 on Apr 23, 2021

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Uncle Boogeyman posted:

I mean the critical consensus has been that Showgirls is actually good for years now. If anything, "Showgirls is bad" is now the contrarian position.

Yeah, same with Starship Troopers. It's generally recognized these days that audiences at the time totally didn't understand Verhoeven's sense of humor and assumed they were trying to be straight ahead dramas/action films. It then led to an endless stream of "Actually, Starship Troopers is a satire" takes that has at least resulted in everyone being on the same page about it. Like, yeah, people around in the 90s who aren't serious about movies probably still only remember Showgirls as a notorious flop, but within film circles everyone knows it's a camp classic. It also would play on basic cable channels like Bravo all the time so it got a whole slew of new fans that way. The debate on whether it's an intelligent, self-aware and entertaining film is pretty much settled.

Frankly, the thing about Showgirls for me is that it's not the acting or script or whatever that's the issue, but it is way, way too long and unwieldy. It drags in a lot of places and has weird tonal shifts that don't always work. When the movie is on track it's fuckin' fire, but midway through I start nodding off as it circles the wagons and scenes don't quite now when to end. For me it's a good 2.5 or 3/5.

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





Week 17 Bracketology Streams!
Only on the CineD Discord

All times are in EST and may not reflect reality.

Saturday, April 24th



1900 Showgirls
2120 Peeping Tom

Monday, April 26th



1900 Mr. Sardonicus
2040 Julien Donkey Boy

Content Warnings

Showgirls (1995)
strong sex, sexual violence

Peeping Tom (1960)
Contains moderate violence and strong psychological threat

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Moderate frightening and intense scenes.

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)
Rated R for language, some sexuality and disturbing images

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




1. (Tarnop's Agents Provocateur) Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls vs 16. (Tarnop's Predation) Michael Powell's Peeping Tom
I won't be a genre cop but I can't imagine Showgirls stands a chance here. I'll be voting for Peeping Tom (even though I really like Showgirls, and think about the pool scene any time I need a laugh). I don't feel the need to watch either of them again before voting, though if I'm in discord when they stream I'll certainly watch as they're both a good time. I've seen Showgirls a handful of times including last summer, and Peeping Tom I watched only a few months ago. It is a very funny match-up, but imho Peeping Tom is a stronger film and certainly a stronger horror film.

8. William Castle's Mr. Sardonicus vs. 9. (Franchescanado's Team Rule Breaker) Harmony Korine's Julien Donkey Boy
I haven't seen many of Castle's films, but I liked Mr. Sardonicus. The general story beats seemed somewhat familiar, I guess there are plenty of "great fortune comes to you but at what cost" stories, but it was well executed. The make-up on Rolfe is pretty cool, the first reveal of it was genuinely shocking. While I don't think this has any big surprises and the story played out mostly as I expected, this was a good time. Castle himself showing up to ask the audience to vote on the fate of Sardonicus is something I hadn't seen before, at least in this way (which felt different than say, Funny Games or like, the Twilight Zone movie). I thought it was cute and cheeky, even if the results of the vote were clear from the start (apparently they didn't even shoot a non-punishment ending).

I'm not really sure how I feel about Julien Donkey Boy, or Harmony Korine in general really. I have seen Kids and Gummo and Spring Breakers, I remember finding Kids really unpleasant and Gummo made me very uncomfortable, but it has been 15+ years since I've seen either. Anyway, it's hard to really talk about this particular movie, it was a disorienting experience. I had to look away from the screen at parts (not because anything graphic was happening but because the way the film is shot was making me feel dizzy). I guess this is part of a movement called Dogme 95 with a bunch of arbitrary rules, I don't know, I read up on it afterwards but did not find it very interesting. I didn't dislike this, and I will say that the performances in this are good - Herzog really goes for it as the abusive father and is quite scary, Sevigny and Bremner were both engaging, and some moments were profoundly sad (phone call). But overall, this was too loose for me to really feel connected to it, I just came away with vague feelings of sadness and unease. I won't argue that it isn't a horror movie, as I can see how someone could read it that way (especially someone with more experience with or understanding of schizophrenia), but I'll likely be voting for Mr. Sardonicus. Maybe I'll join the stream and see if I get more out of it with a group.

MacheteZombie
Feb 4, 2007





You should check out some other Castle flicks. He loved dumb gimmicks and it's part of the charm for some of his work.

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




The Tingler and Strait Jacket are both in my May challenge pile! I've only seen House on Haunted Hill until today, I think.

MacheteZombie
Feb 4, 2007





The Berzerker posted:

The Tingler and Strait Jacket are both in my May challenge pile! I've only seen House on Haunted Hill until today, I think.

13 ghosts is a lot of fun too, though can be hard to capture the gimmick unless you own the disc with it built into the presentation.

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



Per suggestion from married but discreet I have amended the stats on the spreadsheet. Previously I had been keeping track of Wins by Country and Decade just because. I had no idea if anyone even noticed. mbd did and suggested I add a win ratio as quote “12 wins for USA might sound great on paper but they could have had 50 entries.” Well after three tries I think I have the math right and all the formulas correct.

And sure enough, the US’ numbers may look good at a glance with the most wins at 12 but they’ve had 32 entries for a lowly .375 win percentage. But what may surprise you is that two other horror juggernaut countries in Japan and Italy are doing worse - Japan 2 for 7 at .286% and Italy 2 for 6 at .333%. Mexico and Russia are also 0 for 1. On the positive end the UK is leading the pack at 5 wins in 6 chances, which sounds crazy but I’m too tired of counting to quadruple check. That’s a phenomenal .833%. After that to no surprise is France with 3 for 5 at .600% and then Canada at 2 for 4 at .500. Poland, Greece, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Spain are all perfect at 1 for 1.

Decades are a more balanced story but similar in that the 2 most successful in win totals are actually both batting below .500. The 2010s have 7 wins in 16 tries at .438% and the 2000s are 8 for 19 at .421%. But everything’s pretty close here really. The ‘70s have had the worse go at 2 for 9 at a really low .222% and the ‘90s, ‘80s, and ‘60s have all been consistent at 5/8/.625%, 4/6/667%, and 3/5/.600%. 2020s have gone 1 for 2 while the ‘20s are 0 for 1 and ‘50s 1 for 1. We haven’t had any films from the ‘30s or ‘40s.

There you have it, Bracketology nerdery now with more nerdery. Let me know if you’d like to see something. Pie graphs remain against mbd's request because I think they’re pretty. Maybe I'll add bars. I'll think about it.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rzRuxycZQQAkq1VjkgDyqTpmhrN_uVRSyk5d4D0I7Ig/edit#gid=590551869

STAC Goat fucked around with this message at 00:07 on Apr 24, 2021

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment.



Grimey Drawer

I love the stat perspective for country and decade. Horror fans regularly debate what era of horror is best, so it’s fun to have some numbers to point at now.

Thank you for all the hard work you put into it, GOAT.

married but discreet
May 7, 2005




Taco Defender

Loving the stats!
edit: And the STAC! You're doing an amazing job!

married but discreet fucked around with this message at 14:42 on Apr 24, 2021

Tarnop
Nov 25, 2013

The Corridor of Uncertainty



Franchescanado posted:

I love the stat perspective for country and decade. Horror fans regularly debate what era of horror is best, so it’s fun to have some numbers to point at now.

Thank you for all the hard work you put into it, GOAT.

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





Franchescanado posted:

I love the stat perspective for country and decade. Horror fans regularly debate what era of horror is best, so it’s fun to have some numbers to point at now.

Thank you for all the hard work you put into it, GOAT.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment.



Grimey Drawer

Mr. Sardonicus was fine, but it didn't do much for me. Easy win for Julien Donkey-Boy here, favoritism aside.

I'm leaning Peeping Tom over Showgirls. I'm gonna re-watch them both, but Peeping Tom is almost perfect.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Ok here's my argument for Mr. Sardonicus. Gonna spoiler it cause it's dependent on the ending context:

By the time of Mr. Sardonicus, William Castle had already established his success driving audiences to horror films through promotional gimmicks. Previously a journeyman director working in a variety of genres including film noir and westerns, in 1958 his horror film Macabre introduced the first of his iconic gimmicks by offering audiences a $1,000 life insurance policy should they die of fright. This move transformed Castle as a director and producer, and led to the most well-known stretch of his career where he pumped out success after success. The House on Haunted Hill in 1959 was filmed in "Emergo," in which a fake skeleton would be suspended above the audience. These were followed in order by The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal -- Gonna assume this crowd knows the history with those -- and then finally Mr. Sardonicus.

Mr. Sardonicus' gimmick is somewhat infamous. Castle appears on screen to encourage audiences to "vote" on the fate of the film's titular villain -- should he receive mercy and be cured of his affliction or will he be punished to starve to death for his crimes. Presumably, the projectionist would tally the votes and then play the final reel based on what won. But this is 1961 technology and though theoretically this could be done, it would be immensely cumbersome and not quite possible for a projectionist to cue up the proper vote winning reel in the few seconds given between Castle's on screen appearance and the shift to the film's final scene. And so, the gimmick, was a fraud.

To date, there's no evidence that a merciful ending was ever even filmed, let alone surviving. The film ends with Mr. Sardonicus being forced to starve to death, unable to eat -- in line with the source material the film was adapted from. Castle, instead, gave audiences only the illusion of choice. Perhaps, he took a brave gamble, that kids out for a fun time at the movies will almost always vote in favor of a punishment ending -- a bold but fair assumption and something he probably wasn't wrong about most of the time. We can't really know without eyewitness accounts if there were ever any cases of an audience clearly voting in favor of mercy only to receive punishment ending that was preplanned. I think Castle assumed it would at least be inconclusive.

But here's where this false choice becomes interesting. What could have been a simple, moralizing finale is now more complex. Castle has presented the idea of the audience as jury and as a result the audience is now culpable for the film's final. It's not just that this man is going to die a horrible death, you the viewer chose this and wanted it. He implicates you, whether you voted for mercy or voted for punishment, and your connection with the film is now changed. Just like other interactive media, having the choice to effect the outcome is going to change the way you interpret what happens, like feeling bad for making a poor decision in a video game that gets a character killed. Even if it's all Castle bluffing, his decision to appear on screen and even suggest you could prevent this makes you even more powerless and him, the director, all the more powerful. It's subtly brilliant and transforms Mr. Sardonicus into, I think, one of Castle's best works.

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD
Sep 14, 2007

everything is yours


Mr. Sardonicus kicks rear end, good writeup.

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



1. (Tarnop’s Agents Provocateur) Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls vs 16. (Tarnop’s Predation) Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom

I hated Showgirls. I found it slow, meandering, poorly acted, absurd, poorly written. People call it satire but I’m not sure what it would be satirizing. Film making itself? “The entertainment industry”? That second seems to be what people hook into and certainly its showing seedy elements of Vegas’ show business but none of that seems like “satire”. But maybe Verhoeven intentionally made everything so… bad? I mean he did appear to utilize the first ever instance of Chekhov’s erect nipples. If he intended to make a bad film… well done says I. As far as the show business stuff or “capitalism” or “patriarchy” as some say it touches on… ok, yeah, kinda. But the problem is it feels incredibly unfocused. Many of the terrible things are motivated by or covered up by capitalism or misogyny or show business. But a lot of its also just lust and petty poo poo. Nomi’s kind of just a psychopath. She meets her best friend by trashing her car and picking a fight in a parking long. She starts bar fights and curses out people at her friend’s job and litters. She’s an rear end in a top hat. She’s a victim too, of course, and she’s got a handwaved bad upbringing to blame for her maladjustment. But she’s still an rear end in a top hat well before any of this Vegas stuff starts. I can see a version of this film that is a horror where she’s a final girl who falls into the prey of the monsters, becomes one herself, and escapes in the end. But I don’t think that’s this. And the ending just kind of pissed me off. Nomi does something terrible and psychotic. She shows no remorse and Molly - the one moral person here - shuns her and walks away. And then she just comes back and is brutally gang raped. The gently caress? Ok, its the brutality of this world but she’s barely even part of this world. And what happens? Nomi beats up her rapist triumphantly and leaves. Molly’s just collateral damage. To Vegas, to that world, to the rapist but also to Nomi and the film. And I found that gross as hell and just made me hate the film by its end.

I don’t love Peeping Tom. I’m not even sure I like it. But I appreciate it. I dislike giallo and slasher but I often like to point out how the films that shape sub genre’s usually are a lot smarter and more hybrids of other sub genres than the thing that the sub genre ends up being known for. And Peeping Tom feels like that. Its obviously got roots in Hitchcockian type stories, and it clearly feels like it has influential elements in giallo and slasher. It does the killer thing but it focused on his psychology more than his kills. It does the sexualized women killings but the sexualization is about the killer’s issues and twisted sense of sex and fear and death rather than just a bunch of sexy women in their lingerie being laid out. I appreciate these elements and how they stand apart from the stuff I don’t like in giallo and slasher. I also like the second half of the film. Once we kind of get the sense that Mark is documenting his own end with that hilarious police scene and when the focus comes on the mother and daughter who see the different sides of him, I find it very compelling and tense. But I dunno. The film doesn’t quick click with me. I feel like the film actually does itself a disservice having that giallo element. That’s what gave it its controversy, and i think it kind of distracts from the stronger parts of the film. At least it did for me. And that’s probably a subjective taste call. But it is what it is. Still, I appreciate this film more than I enjoy it, but I don’t hate it or anything. Its interesting.

So Peeping Tom gets this one easy for me, even if it might not have gotten my vote in another matchup.

STAC Goat fucked around with this message at 23:39 on Apr 26, 2021

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Feel like you answered all of your own questions you had about Showgirls.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Might be helpful to watch this Q&A on the film from a few years ago with Verhoeven and Gina Gershon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj7JB_Otn3A

There's also the documentary You Don't Nomi and Adam Nayman's monograph on the film "It Doesn't Suck."

In short, the acting style is so clearly deliberate and focused, it's like Nicolas Cage or Keanu Reeves where audiences expect a sort of naturalism or realism to equate with "good acting" when what's actually happening are very heightened, melodramatic comedy performances. I used Cage and Reeves as examples of actors whose styles are specifically not naturalistic and as a result they've simultaneously been able to lure in mainstream audiences but also confound them leading to ideas of "this is bad acting" because our concept of good acting is so rigid. Verhoeven here is really manipulating his actors in a very effective way to get these over-the-top performances that are very specifically hammy (think John Waters) but create the alternate reality necessary to get across the themes of the film. If these people were reading this script but reading the lines like any Best Actress performance it would all collapse! It needs the heightened element. About seven minutes into that video up there, Verhoeven discusses the hyperbolicism and expressionist influences on the film.

It's targets are straightforward: the entertainment industry, patriarchy and sexism, capitalism and the cutthroat backstabbing nature of it all. Of COURSE the one moral person gets destroyed as a result and our antihero protagonist, who's just as self-centered and hateful as anyone else in the film, brushes it off. Why wouldn't this happen in the world as its presented?

I've already said I don't think Showgirls is perfect and I think it has some structural issues, but its not intentionally bad, it's intentionally abrasive.

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



I can't watch that right now but I will.

I don't totally blame Berkley for the performance. Like I don't think she's an especially good actress but her performance is clearly too wild and weird to not be a directorial choice. But I think Verhoeven betrays that because no one else is doing that and the film itself has a very grounded tone. So Nomi just stands out as this crazy person. And its so pronounced that I don't doubt its deliberate, but I don't think it works and just makes Berkley seem bad. Actors like Cage certainly have that sometimes too where their performance is just so off from the rest of the film that becomes something all its own. I know some people love that but I'm the guy who doesn't like Mandy so its just generally not my thing.

If the intent was to make a film about a deranged amoral protagonist is a sleazy world where nothing matters and anyone stupid enough to give a poo poo is brutalized for no good reason... I mean, well done but I hate it.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Oh Showgirls thinks this poo poo matters. It's just good luck finding someone who cares.

WeaponX
Jul 28, 2008




STAC Goat posted:

But I think Verhoeven betrays that because no one else is doing that and the film itself has a very grounded tone. So Nomi just stands out as this crazy person.

Not sure I’ve ever heard someone say Showgirls has a grounded tone...everyone from Kyle MacLachlan to Gina Gershon are playing it big. I mean this is the film with the immortal line, “must be nice not having anybody cum on ya”. I think there is plenty of crazy to go around.

Best way I’ve heard it put is that films like Robocop and Starship Troopers feature over-the-top, heightened, aggressive scenes of violence in both meaningful and exploitive ways and Showgirls is Verhoeven approaching sex in the same way.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



WeaponX posted:

Best way I’ve heard it put is that films like Robocop and Starship Troopers feature over-the-top, heightened, aggressive scenes of violence in both meaningful and exploitive ways and Showgirls is Verhoeven approaching sex in the same way.

And of course Basic Instinct is where you get to see him literally do both at once

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



WeaponX posted:

Not sure I’ve ever heard someone say Showgirls has a grounded tone...everyone from Kyle MacLachlan to Gina Gershon are playing it big. I mean this is the film with the immortal line, “must be nice not having anybody cum on ya”. I think there is plenty of crazy to go around.
Everyone's kind of nuts and the dialogue is all... big. But I think everyone else is like acting more or less like a person. A sleazy, gross person but a person. Nomi's over her pulling knives on people and yelling at everyone and flailing about and eating hamburgers real weird.

Peacoffee
Feb 11, 2013




I thought Showgirls was very interesting, and as has been said, wild. For me it fits very well into a type of movie that I would call Unnatural Desertification. Where places like Reno or Las Vegas are used as a backdrop for the desert and how the real wasteland seems to be what actually draws people’s eye: the heavily constructed artifice of cities like Vegas.

In movies like Desert Hearts you get the message that flowers maybe do bloom in the desert, whereas here the message is maybe more about what that “real” wasteland, the cultural one, does.

In that regard I think Nomi is not really meant to be sympathetic, to a point maybe, but mostly she sucks the area dry and bombs out and drives off, leaving notably a woman of color in a terrible place after she fed her ruthlessly to that predator, probably to crash into that final destination for the westward-driven wastelander: LA.

WeaponX
Jul 28, 2008




STAC Goat posted:

Everyone's kind of nuts and the dialogue is all... big. But I think everyone else is like acting more or less like a person. A sleazy, gross person but a person. Nomi's over her pulling knives on people and yelling at everyone and flailing about and eating hamburgers real weird.

Nomi is definitely the most heightened but I’m ok with that, she is our “Eve”. I just don’t think it stands out that much in the hosed up world of Showgirls

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



Peacoffee posted:


In that regard I think Nomi is not really meant to be sympathetic, to a point maybe, but mostly she sucks the area dry and bombs out and drives off, leaving notably a woman of color in a terrible place after she fed her ruthlessly to that predator, probably to crash into that final destination for the westward-driven wastelander: LA.

I'm definitely not sure she's meant to be sympathetic. There's a version of this film where i think she is the sympathetic final girl. There's a version of this film where she's the monstrous predator. Instead the film feels like it tries to thread the needle and I don't think it works. At least not for me.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



I don't think Nomi's meant to be sympathetic at all, she's a monster.

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



That whole final sequence of her triumphantly kicking the rapist's rear end and then telling Molly she did it for her and getting an ok from Gershon and then ridiculously closing the circle of the film by getting picked up by the same driver all felt very "hero's end" to me and left a real bad taste in my mouth.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



STAC Goat posted:

That whole final sequence of her triumphantly kicking the rapist's rear end and then telling Molly she did it for her and getting an ok from Gershon and then ridiculously closing the circle of the film by getting picked up by the same driver all felt very "hero's end" to me and left a real bad taste in my mouth.

Well again, the satire is laid on so thick here it's hard to miss - she started the movie heading into Vegas, the heart of sin in America, and having burned through it in record time, only becoming a worse person with every lesson she learns, where does she have left to go? The City of Angels, the only place more depraved! It feels like the end to the hero's journey because it's a sick parody of it - which, to be fair, a bad taste in your mouth is not an invalid response to.

Peacoffee
Feb 11, 2013




Yeah I softened on the wording but I don’t personally find her sympathetic. I think also buried in there is something about the Hero’s Journey, which carries a lot of baggage culturally, and often most of our “heroes” have been awful people. The Hero’s Journey as it relates to Western Civ has been a pretty miserable and bloody journey. As an idea I generally find it to be a bit of a joke, a sort of high school english class way to reinforcing a vague sort of manifest destiny, which is also how I saw the ending framing it.

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Tarnop
Nov 25, 2013

The Corridor of Uncertainty



TrixRabbi posted:

Might be helpful to watch this Q&A on the film from a few years ago with Verhoeven and Gina Gershon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj7JB_Otn3A

There's also the documentary You Don't Nomi and Adam Nayman's monograph on the film "It Doesn't Suck."

In short, the acting style is so clearly deliberate and focused, it's like Nicolas Cage or Keanu Reeves where audiences expect a sort of naturalism or realism to equate with "good acting" when what's actually happening are very heightened, melodramatic comedy performances. I used Cage and Reeves as examples of actors whose styles are specifically not naturalistic and as a result they've simultaneously been able to lure in mainstream audiences but also confound them leading to ideas of "this is bad acting" because our concept of good acting is so rigid. Verhoeven here is really manipulating his actors in a very effective way to get these over-the-top performances that are very specifically hammy (think John Waters) but create the alternate reality necessary to get across the themes of the film. If these people were reading this script but reading the lines like any Best Actress performance it would all collapse! It needs the heightened element. About seven minutes into that video up there, Verhoeven discusses the hyperbolicism and expressionist influences on the film.

It's targets are straightforward: the entertainment industry, patriarchy and sexism, capitalism and the cutthroat backstabbing nature of it all. Of COURSE the one moral person gets destroyed as a result and our antihero protagonist, who's just as self-centered and hateful as anyone else in the film, brushes it off. Why wouldn't this happen in the world as its presented?

I've already said I don't think Showgirls is perfect and I think it has some structural issues, but its not intentionally bad, it's intentionally abrasive.

Thanks for the references, that video was really interesting. I'm going to check out You Don't Nomi

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