Tuesday, May 08, 2007

BLACK BOOK: The Film Babble Blog Review

Now playing at an indie art house possibly somewhere near you:

BLACK BOOK (Dir. Paul Verheoven, 2007)

Paul Verhoven's first movie in sic years is a far cry from the glib futuristic satire of ROBOCOP (1987) and definitely more than just time-zones away from the glib psycho sexual trash thriller BASIC INSTINCT (1992).

Rachel Stein (Carice Van Houten) hides from Nazi's in 1944 Netherlands hiding her Jewish-ness under a blond curly dye-job and behind her charm which is the sole saving grace of this tedious over-stated film. Van Houten is a former singer (and she does sing beautifully in the only scenes that register emotion) who becomes embroiled in a plot by the resistance to infiltrate the SD (Sicherheitsdienst-Security Service) office run by officer Ludwig Mntze (Sebastian Koch). 

Koch is apparently a lovable Nazi (one that the movie stresses isn't as bad as the other cold blooded less attractive Nazis) therefore she falls for him. The plot thickens when members of the resistance may be as untrustworthy as their enemy.

After one wades through all the supposedly purposeful unpleasantness symbolized by the bucket of shit (yes I do mean an actual bucket of shit) that's poured on top of Stein and all the close calls and near-scrapes with Nazis it's hard to care who double crossed who and for what purpose. With an almost complete lack of directorial style and affecting acting edge, to steal a line from “Catch-22” (the novel, that is), it's impressive how unimpressive BLACK BOOK is.

More later...

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