But it seems she has arrived back just in the nick of time, for a group of film bloggers, including Siren faves Flickhead, Girish and Peter, have banded together in an attempt to resurrect the reputation of Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls--or, failing that, at least to discuss it with a straight face.
The Siren would never suggest that scenes such as the one above have muddied their usual sparkling thought processes. But she is still a bit worried. Hold the line while the Siren dabs her cyberfriends' foreheads with a lace handkerchief. Here, gentlemen, please borrow my marabou-trimmed fan for a moment. Pass it to Jacques Rivette when you are done. Breathe gently and evenly, and listen to the Siren.
The movie is a walking, pecking, flying, gobble-gobbling, ready-for-its-bourbon-bottle-closeup turkey. Sure, it has a certain '90s social relevance. So does "Veronica's Closet."
Douglas Sirk's movies smuggled a lot of subversive messages, but they were, even on the surface plot level, about serious subjects. Racism in Imitation of Life. The arrogance of the rich in Magnificent Obsession. Impotence, alcoholism and general family dysfunction in Written on the Wind. The petty constraints of bourgeois society in All That Heaven Allows.
What, exactly, is the serious subject matter of Showgirls? All that glitters is not gold? Except it is. There is no implicit critique of Vegas, the movie is celebrating--hell, wallowing--in it. Watch the camera linger lovingly on Nomi's every acquisition. See it sweep through the Haute Hick interiors as though doing an appraisal for tax purposes. And if the movie is anti-erotic, that is due to ineptitude, not deliberate distancing.
The acting is just atrocious. Elizabeth Berkley, moving her mouth as though the lip gloss is a surgical dressing she dare not disturb. Gina Gershon, sporting a "Texas" accent that even George Bush Sr. would deride as phony. Kyle MacLachlan, so obviously phoning it in he should have pinned his salary check to his shoulder.
And the dialogue. Sweet St. Francis of Assisi, the dialogue.
Cristal Connors: I've had dog food.
Nomi Malone: You have?
Cristal Connors: Mmm-hmmm. Long time ago. Doggy Chow. I used to love Doggy Chow.
Nomi Malone: I used to love Doggy Chow, too!
Joe Eszterhas shopped the script around Hollywood for years, it was his pet. The Siren remembers the pre-release publicity for this movie, before everyone realized it would bomb. The lure was that it was made for adults, supposedly very frank and open about its eroticism. During filming the screenwriter went nuts if anyone tampered with the dialogue. So if, when Gershon tells Berkley, "I like nice tits," Berkley wanted to reply "I like possessing nice tits" instead of "I like having nice tits," that was verboten, because you don't want to rough up the meter when dealing with poetry like that.
And the rape scene also tells you that these guys were serious, that was there was no winking at the audience. This was an exploitation flick gone horribly wrong and way over-budget. It has some value as camp, but that's it.
Gentlemen, the Siren usually worships your taste, but de gustibus non est disputandum and all that sort of thing. She sincerely hopes you do not mind this energetic dissent.
And now she is signing off...to watch a Douglas Sirk movie.
Before she does, the Siren sets aside her smelling salts to give you an updated list of the many hardy (lost?) souls participating in International Showgirls Day, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the film's European release.
UPDATE: The SHOWGIRLS BLOG ORGY includes, in alphabetical order:
- Aaron at Cinephiliac.
- Ben at The Whine-Colored Sea.
- Brian at Hell On Frisco Bay.
- Darren at Long Pauses.
- David at Drifting.
- Dennis at Sergio Leone & The Infield Fly Rule.
- Eric at When Canses Were Classeled.
- Joshua at Fagistan.
- Mubarak at Supposed Aura.
- Peter at Coffee Coffee And More Coffee.
- Sean at Bitter Cinema.
- Tim at Obsolete Vernacular.
- Zach at Elusive Lucidity.