Hulu review: Paul Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct” (1992)

With only fifty-three percent of reviews aggregated through Rotten Tomatoes praising Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992), this Hitchcockian classic of its time is an underrated and misunderstood film.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Basic Instinct is available to stream on Hulu. The neo-noir erotic thriller was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Original Score.

It was the fourth-highest-grossing release of its year, despite a divided critical reaction and public protests from gay rights activists.

Set in San Francisco, troubled homicide detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) investigates the murder of Johnny Boz (Bill Cable), who was stabbed to death with an icepick during sex with a mysterious blonde.

The prime suspect is crime novelist Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), Boz’s bisexual girlfriend, who wrote a book about the killing before it was committed and claims an obsessive devotee is setting her up.

As Catherine lures Nick into her world of sex and drugs and violence, his relationship with police psychiatrist Doctor Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) grows increasingly deadly.

Douglas may get top billing, but Stone is the star of the show. She carries herself with confidence and intelligence and just the right amount of danger.

The most recognition she engendered for her star-making turn was a Golden Globe nod because audiences fail to take her seriously after the infamous interrogation scene.

Like Emilia Clarke in HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Stone is more talented than people are willing to give her credit for, and there’s more to her performance than the beauty that meets the eye.

This is due to Verhoeven’s direction. Stone reprises her role in Michael Canton-Jones’s Basic Instinct 2 (2006), but even though it’s the same actor playing the same part, Catherine Tramell is borderline unwatchable in the sequel.

Verhoeven characterizes Tramell as the postmodern femme fatale, who seduces and kills with no loftier motive than that she looks good doing it.

The movie was controversial upon its release for its representation of bisexual women, and while there is something to be said about Hollywood’s lengthy history of demonizing lesbians, and while Basic Instinct exploits lesbianism for the male gaze, it is still ahead of its time sexually.

Catherine and her lover, Roxy Hardy (Leilani Sarelle), are both feminine.

Conversely, in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right (2010), not only do Annette Benning and Julianne Moore conform to “butch” and “femme” gender roles, respectively, but the more feminine of the two also is the one to have an affair with Mark Ruffalo.

Narratively, though, Basic Instinct is overlong, convoluted, and repetitive. In the end, what the central mystery boils down to is an elaborate revenge plan the villain would have had to be nigh clairvoyant to cook up.

Logically, the drama demands more than its fair share of suspension of disbelief.

But Basic Instinct is more… well… instinctual than it is rational, and, for that, it is cinema at its most dreamlike.

Trailer released for Shudder’s “Cursed Films” (2020-)

Shudder’s Cursed Films (2020-) is a documentary series which will look at the ill-fated production stories behind: Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist (1982); William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973); Richard Donner’s The Omen (1976); Alex Proyas’s The Crow (1994); as well as John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller’s Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), according to Entertainment Weekly News. Those interviewed by the streaming service include: The Omen director Richard Donner; The Exorcist star Linda Blair; Kane Hodder; Michael Berryman; Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman; Poltergeist III (1988) director Gary Sherman; Mitch Horowitz; and Blumhouse executive and Shock Waves podcast cohost Ryan Turek. The season premiere (The Exorcist) will screen April 2; on April 9, Poltergeist and The Omen ; and April 16, The Crow and Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Updates released on second “Simpsons” film

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“We would only do it if it was an idea that we thought deserved being made into another movie,” said 20th Century’s The Simpsons (1989-) showrunner Al Jean. “We would do it if we thought it was a great story and we wanted to tell it.”

Al Jean, showrunner for 20th Century’s The Simpsons (1989-) as well as a producer behind David Silverman’s The Simpsons Movie (2007), says the talks for another potential spinoff film are “in the very, very early stages,” according to New Music Express. Series creator Matt Groening said at D23 that he thinks the movie will happen, and Jean added that the Simpsons team “would love to do one for Disney, but it’s not like it’s happening next week or next year.” In a new statement, Jean made clear that any new film would be a standalone work, rather than a sequel.

Subject of Theodore Melfi’s “Hidden Figures” (2016) dead at 101

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Best Supporting Actress nominee Octavia Spencer co-stars as mathematician Dorothy Vaughn, and Janelle Monae, as engineer Mary Jackson. (Image Courtesy: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

NASA scientist Katherine Johnson, who was played by Taraji P. Henson in Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures (2016), has died at 101 years old, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. One of the first black women to work as a NASA scientist, almost no one outside of the agency knew who she was until the release of Hidden Figures, even though Johnson helped calculate the trajectory for spaceflights during the 1960s space race with Russia, including the moon landing. Hidden Figures was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Johnson received a standing ovation when she appeared onstage with the cast.

President Trump condemns South Korean film’s history-making Academy Awards

At a campaign rally in Colorado Springs on Thursday night, United States President Donald Trump criticized this month’s Academy Awards, where Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture, according to The Washington Post. Citing American trade disputes with South Korea, Trump asked, “Can we get Gone with the Wind back, please,” in reference to Victor Fleming’s 1939 Best Picture Oscar winner which has long since fallen out of favor in critical circles for its representation of black Americans. Trump would later go on to admit he doesn’t know whether Parasite is good or not.

Rose McGowan criticizes Natalie Portman’s Academy Awards protest

In a Facebook post, Rose McGowan has condemned Natalie Portman for wearing a dress to the Academy Awards embroidered with the names of female filmmakers who were passed over for Best Director nominations, including Greta Gerwig and Lulu Wang, according to The Guardian. Calling Portman a “fraud,” McGowan says all activists should take offense at the Oscar winner’s “lip service,” even going so far as to accuse Portman of not working with enough female filmmakers or hiring them through her production company, Handsomecharlie Films. Portman responded to McGowan’s statement, saying, “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave.’”

A24 acquires North American distribution rights for new Claire Denis film

Claire Denis, the French filmmaker who directed Robert Pattinson in her English-language debut, High Life (2018), will be collaborating with Pattinson again for her romantic thriller, The Stars at Noon, according to IndieWire. An adaptation of the 1986 Denis Johnson novel, The Stars at Noon is set during the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1984, with Pattinson starring as an enigmatic English businessman who falls for an American journalist (Margaret Qualley) before being forced to try and flee the country. It will mark Pattinson’s return to the indie scene after Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020) and Matt Reeves’s The Batman (2021), as well as his fifth A24 feature overall.