Elle: Empowerment in the Darkness

Elle is the sensational new thriller from Paul Verhoeven, and his first major film in a decade. Starring an outstanding Isabelle Huppert, this French film is not an erotic thriller, like the Dutch director’s infamous Basic Instinct. Instead, it’s a gripping film about a businesswoman’s complex response to being raped. From the opening shot of her cat watching the horrific event unfold, you know you’re in for a typically audacious film from a vastly under-appreciated director.

Verhoeven is best known for directing bombastic sci-fi/action classics like Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers. Rather like the work of Douglas Sirk in the Golden Age of Hollywood, Verhoeven’s films were written off as lowbrow trash in their day, only for their artful, cutting satire to be appreciated later. He creates discomfort in his audience by playing with cinematic elements many take for granted. His incredibly glossy films use deliberately gratuitous sex and violence to comment on the dark undercurrent of both American cinema and society.

Even Showgirls, a popular contender for the worst film ever made, has been re-evaluated by critics and is appreciated by arthouse favourites like Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Rivette.While his last American film, Hollow Man, proved to be a hit, Verhoeven felt his films were losing his personal touch, and that Hollow Man could just as easily have been made by some other director. He retreated to Europe to [ . . . ]

Read Full Story: Elle: empowerment in darkness | Arts & Culture | Film | spiked

Performer of the Year: Isabelle Huppert

With two powerhouse performances and some serious Oscar buzz brewing, 2016 is officially the Year of Huppert.

Isabelle Huppert is without a doubt one of the finest actresses of all time, an immense talent we’ve been fortunate enough to witness for decades. She is the most nominated actress for France’s César Award, with thirteen nominations; she has had more films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival than any other actress; she is a BAFTA winner, Silver Berlin Bear Winner and she unanimously won Best Actress at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival for her role as Erika Kohut in Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher. In short, Huppert is who Meryl Streep likely wakes up wanting to be [ . . .  ]

Read Full Story: Performer of the Year: Isabelle Huppert

Review: Isabelle Huppert Is Great in ‘Things to Come.’ Discuss. – The New York Times

Here are a few things to argue about, if you need distraction from all the other arguments going on right now. Isabelle Huppert: great actress or world’s greatest actress? Once that is settled (in favor of the second option, of course), we can turn to more advanced Huppertiana. Is she the queen of sang-froid or the avatar of extremity? Does she freeze the screen or burn it down? Does she inspire pity or terror?

In this film by Mia Hansen-Love, Ms. Huppert plays a philosophy professor who must reassemble her life after a series of personal catastrophes [ . . . ]

Read Full Review: Review: Isabelle Huppert Is Great in ‘Things to Come.’ Discuss. – The New York Times