Jessa Crispin and I discuss Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall

This was so much fun. Jessa Crispin (the onetime “Book Slut”) has been doing a Paul Verhoeven discussion series on her super fun podcast, Public Intellectual, and she had me on to discuss Total Recall, a film I saw in the theatre during its first release, and loved. This was a blast. Listen here.

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8 Responses to Jessa Crispin and I discuss Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall

  1. Jaquandor says:

    Still need to listen, but I love the GIF here. In fact, every time I have a cold and my sinuses fill up I wish that we’d invent the gizmo Arnold is using there, just for that purpose!

  2. mutecypher says:

    I enjoyed the podcast.

    I perked up at the mention of a “Verhoeven Woman” and I’ve been trying to come up with as a compare-and-contrast with the “Howard Hawks Woman.” May need to percolate on that a bit.

    Sharon Stone was almost impossibly beautiful in that movie. Like you said, she throws herself completely into everything.

    • mutecypher says:

      Sometimes unusual words just seem to show up all of a sudden. I was walking by a science class yesterday and the teacher called me in from the hallway because she couldn’t get the class to come up with the word for “filtering through porous material.” So I popped up with “percolate.” It was on my mind and I used it above. Then I just saw it in the first paragraph of your open thread on Melancholia.

      I wonder when “vinculum” will have its time in the sun.

    • sheila says:

      It’s rare the male director who is obsessed with women. Especially now. Or … men who are willing to admit their subordination to a female muse. (This is why I think Phantom Thread has struck such a chord). Back in old Hollywood – male directors were practically sadomasochistic in their devotion to their female muses – Josef von Sturnberg with Marlene – Howard Hawks with Lauren Bacall – but male directors now seem reluctant to admit such a thing. There are a couple of exceptions – Verhoeven – who casts unique women in unique roles with his unmistakable stamp – his women are competent, feisty, complicated, maybe even sociopathic – but in his hands, you get why – since the men in his movies are mainly awful – then there’s Olivier Assayas w/Kristen Stewart (he is in the old-school model most of all – only two movies so far, but he is circling around something, focusing in on what interests him, leaving out anything that detracts from her) – and David O. Russell with Jennifer Lawrence. You can tell how much he adores her in how he films her.

      Films are so geared towards men now (teenage boys, rather – with all the hostility/buried sexuality that that implies) -and movies completely were not like that back in Howard Hawks’ day. Not sure a compare/contrast would be all that illuminating since the business has not only changed so much – but has become a mirror image of itself. Once upon a time, the industry geared itself towards women and its female stars. Now, POST “women’s liberation” – it’s the opposite. These guys stand out in their devotion to women, women’s subjective experiences.

      I’d put Lars von Trier on that list too, although his sensibility is too gloomy to do much adoration. He clearly sees something in Charlotte Gainsbourg that approaches Muse status.

  3. JessicaR says:

    Gawd I love this movie, and yes! to Verhoeven’s interest/obsession with women. It’s most interesting in Basic Instinct, the screenwriter is in dead earnest about his misogyny but Verhoeven and Stone just role their eyes at him and are on the same wavelength. Poor Michael Douglas, no slouch himself, is utterly blown off the screen by her icy blonde updos and body con dresses. I wrote about the golden age of R rate blockbusters and naturally talked a lot about Vehoeven there,

    • sheila says:

      Jessica – sorry it took me a while to get back to you. I was busy marching yesterday! :)

      // the screenwriter is in dead earnest about his misogyny but Verhoeven and Stone just role their eyes at him and are on the same wavelength. //

      Ha! This is a great observation, I love it – and really agree with it. Stone just kills it. She knows what movie she’s in. She lampoons it at the same time she acts the shiiiiiiiit out of it.

      Thanks for the link to your work – I remember reading that essay, I will read it again!

      Verhoeven with women is an endlessly interesting topic. Even in Robocob – Nancy Allen is just so tough – but also human. He allows her to be both. He’s fascinated by competence – in people, but in women too. Like Melina in Total Recall. Huppert in Elle. These are highly competent people. Not superhero-competent, though. They’re flesh and blood.

  4. Patrick says:

    Time flies eh… I looked it up and was quite surprised to see it was released 28 years ago. Verhoeven really knew how to make a movie move along at a brisk pace (Robocop, Starship Troopers), he had a flair for pulp sci fi. He made it look easy, but the fact that not many people have made such movies makes me think it isn’t.

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