Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Week 41: Black Book

It’s not easy to willingly rent a movie directed by Paul Verhoeven…the same man who directed Showgirls, which I will admit I’ve watched at least a half-dozen times. Like a stinky cheese, it only gets better and better with age. Seriously, is there a better line in all of film than, I’m not a whore; I’m a DANCER!?

Lucky for Verhoeven, he completely redeemed himself in Black Book. Officially titled Zwartboek, Black Book is an incredible, action-packed Nazi-resistance film that was a sheer delight to watch.

Did I just use Nazi-resistance and sheer delight in the same sentence? Awesome.

Black Book stars a smashing German actress, Carice Van Houten, as Rachel/Ellis, a Jew in hiding who watches her family get mowed down in a botched escape plan from Holland. It spurs Rachel to pass as an Aryan named Ellis and join the Nazi resistance to find out who set the trap that snared her family and a boatload (literally) of other wealthy Jews.

Verhoeven’s cast has chemistry to the hilt, especially between Ellis and the SS Commander she works for/falls in love with, Commander Muntze. And you never really forget that you’re watching a film by the guy who showed us Sharon Stone’s nether regions in Basic Instinct Black Book drips with steamy eroticism and yes – as part of Ellis’ attempts to blend as an Aryan, she dyes ALL her hair blonde. ALL of it. Thanks, Verhoeven, I was worried for a few minutes that I wouldn’t see a woman’s pubes in this film. Whew. What a load off my mind.

The plot of Black Book is filled with twists, turns, double-crossing spies and a whole lot of action. At some points it plays a little like an old-timey war flick. And it’s hard not to compare Van Houten to film legends like Garbo and Lana Turner. She oozes that magnetic glamour of the old Hollywood vanguard.

Be warned before you watch Black Book…it’s incredibly long, but we didn’t mind the length a bit. In the wasteland of terrible films out there right now, it was refreshing to be excited about a truly engaging film. Paul Verhoeven is redeemed in my book. I for one can’t wait to see whose crotch he's going to show us next.


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