Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Tricked: Paul Verhoeven Harnesses the Dutch Internet
Perhaps Paul Verhoeven should have used this
crowd-sourcing technique for Hollow Man.
It is far from fool-proof, but at least he could have avoided its creepy rapiness.
Instead, Verhoeven employed the distributed networking model for his hyped-up follow-up
to his triumphant Dutch homecoming film Black
Book. He started with four scripted minutes, relying on the internet to
provide the rest of Tricked (trailer here), which opens today in New York.
In four minutes, Kim van Kooten establishes
the eight main characters. The rest was crowd-sourced or “user-generated.” It
sounds pretty straight forward, but Verhoeven and his cast talk about it in
agonizing detail in the “making of” epk-ish film that screens ahead of the
fifty-five minute Tricked. From all
their talk of breakthroughs and innovations, you would think they were filming
the first soundie. Perhaps the only surprising revelation is the relatively
high quality of submissions. Verhoeven expected to lean on a handful of super-users,
but he had binders full of contributions that were under consideration.
So it took hundreds of Dutch viewers to tell
the tale of Remco, the philandering head of an architectural firm, who is under
pressure from his two partners to sell out to the Chinese. At the worst
possible time, Nadja, his former office hook-up returns from abroad with a
massive baby bump. That gives his wife Ineke all kinds of attitude, but his
current mistress Merel takes it more in stride. Since she is besties with Remco’s
boozy party-girl daughter Lieke, she is not about to get all dramatic and call
attention to their affair.
The fact that Tricked is a bit of a tonal mishmash really isn’t Verhoeven’s
fault, since he really had no idea where it was headed. Likewise, the cast is
also understandably tentative in the early going. Having no idea if their
characters are ultimately sympathetic or detestable, they had to keep their
options open. Frankly, the fact that it flows together as smoothly as it does
is quite impressive. In fact, plenty of credit is due to Verhoeven and editor
Job Ter Burg.
Veteran Dutch actor Peter Blok is appealingly
roguish as Remco and Gaite Jensen is quite dynamic and engaging as the
surprisingly proactive Merel. However, seven hundred Dutchmen should really
have their heads examined for making Remco’s slacker son Tobias into a
supposedly endearing antisocial pervert. Robert de Hoog does his best under the
circumstances, but his scenes courting Merel are face-palm worthy.
Given the nature of the project, most of the
blame for what does not work can also be distributed among hundreds of
contributors. The one glaring exception is Fons Merkies’ ghastly score.
Verhoeven and his cast put in a lot of work to make this gimmick look like
legitimate cinema, but the carnival-style music makes you expect to see twenty
or thirty clowns come piling out of a compact car.
Essentially, Tricked started out as an earnest
attempt at sexual intrigue, but became a parody of sudsy melodramas. The important
thing is it manages to be watchable in a less trainwreckish kind of way than
some of Verhoeven’s notorious films (Showgirls
anyone?). Recommended for the curious, Tricked
opens today (2/26) in New York at the Cinema Village and also launches
day-and-date on Fandor, but without the relentlessly self-congratulatory
behind-the-scenes video, therefore making it the preferred viewing alternative.
Labels: Dutch cinema, Paul Verhoeven