Thursday, January 7, 2016

Showgirls (1995)

Outsiders often have a unique perspective on things. They notice stuff that others might miss. This applies to filmmakers too. They can see our faults and shine a light on them. Or in some cases, cast an artful shadow on them. It is no coincidence that of the major tributaries to the river we know as "film noir" is the cinematic output of foreign filmmakers like Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Roman Polanski. They were able to see the sickness that America was either oblivious to or actively ignoring. While I'll agree that Robocop is clearly the greatest American satire of Paul Verhoeven's career, Showgirls is a pretty great one too. When he directed Robocop, he was still brand new to this country and made a film that was most heavily influenced by the America he had experienced through media while growing up in the Netherlands. Showgirls is a film that comes from having actually lived and worked in America for the better part of a decade. This decadently ugly depiction of a violent and treacherous world where  there are no good guys came as the result of careful study. Of course it bombed. You can hold a mirror up to society, but you can't make them look.

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