I see a lot of movies every year. A
ton. But this year I’ve decided I don’t see enough movies, so one of my
New Year Resolutions was to simply see more. And to write about them.
See, that’s the other half of the equation: I see a ton of movies, but
I write about comparatively few of them. There are a lot of reasons,
but they mainly boil down to the fact that I feel the need to do long
form reviews, and sometimes – like in the midst of Sundance – I just
don’t have the time.
so was born this new blog! I aim to make an entry for every single
movie I see in 2010. Some entries may be very short, some may be
lengthy. Entries may take a couple of days to be posted. Let’s see how
long this lasts.
last thing: one of my main objectives this year is to rewatch more
movies. I know this sounds like a strange goal, but there are films I
haven’t seen since high school, which means it’s been almost a lifetime
since I saw them. Recently I rewatched Black Christmas for the first
time since the 1980s, and I might as well have been seeing the movie
for the first time. I’m interested in getting a look at some movies I
loved or hated twenty or even ten years ago and seeing how I feel about
#45 Total Recall (TV Version)
d. Paul Verhoeven
They’re going to re-evaluate the career of Paul Verhoeven someday. Even now, looking back at his 90s work you can see the obvious subversiveness at work, the way he took the tropes of the brain dead action films of time and amped them to a ridiculous level.
I don’t think Total Recall is the best Verhoeven movie (Starship Troopers must take that title, being as it is a perfect film) but I do think it’s the best Arnold movie. The absurdity of Arnold as a regular joe nobody is incredible, and it’s the best performance Arnold ever gave, especially since 90% of it is him scrunching up his face and making various gargling sounds. Arnold also has a nice sense of humor on display here without getting too silly or meta – it’s just the right level of every aspect of his persona, done perfectly. He’d never quite capture this again.
Verhoeven creates an escalating series of set pieces that feel like video game levels in a way that no other film has ever matched, and it ends with a series of boss battles that are unique and specific, just as you’d like your video game boss battles to be. Verhoeven is one of the underrated masters of action, and his action scenes are propulsive and funny and gory as all hell, which is just as I like them.
Interestingly the TV version of this shown on SyFy seemed to excise very little – if any – of the violence. And when Hauser first says ‘Get your ass to Mars’ the channel allowed ‘ass,’ but when the recording loops they bleeped each subsequent ‘ass.’ Still, I prefer a bleeping over a replacement word, even though replacement words can be funny. What was intriguing was how the triple breasted whore was cleanly cut and it didn’t feel like anything was lost. This was obviously back in the day when TV versions were still on filmmaker’s minds, and Verhoeven constructed the scene so she could be totally excised without skipping a beat.
I didn’t really intend to watch Total Recall on SyFy – I just came across it while looking for interesting monster/ghost/UFO shows on cable – but once I started I couldn’t stop. It’s a great film, and I love that a big dumb action film actually manages to have enough smarts to maintain a semblance of mystery. You could argue all day about whether or not there is a Hauser and whether or not Quaid is just experiencing a Total Recall dream gone wrong. I think the movie comes down a touch more on the side of reality, but there’s more than enough fodder for discussion.