Today's episode: Paul Verhoeven's gaudy masterwork SHOWGIRLS (1995). It's loud. It's trashy. It's colorful. It's spectacularly itself. Something all movies should strive to be. So, very briefly, I considered this shot from the opening sequence.
Because the "HUGE" graphic makes me giggle. It can't have been an accident that that's the word that flashes in neon just as Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) pulls into Las Vegas. "I'm gonna win."
I almost went with anything from Nomi's first performance like these.
I love how distorted and fleshy the first image is (that's the movie, too) and that Nomi is a blur. Isn't she the spazziest (live action) protagonist of all time? She's basically a rampaging toddler and definitely the most inelegant "dancer" ever captured on film. It's not just that famous pool sex scene that's epileptic. This girl seems constantly beset by seizures, whether she's throwing fries, hitting friends, dancing or lapdancing, shoving innocent human resources personnel against walls, eating potato-chips, buying dresses from "ver-sayce" or running out into oncoming traffic (which she does at least twice during the movie). The second image is unexpectedly demure as she prepares to strip. Aren't the pinks and yellows gorgeous? It's not deep focus (shame) but it's wonderfully composed to allow you to see Cristal's (Gina Gershon) volcanic entrance at the same time in the background.
Speaking of backgrounds. There's so much going on in some of the frames, so many characters milling about with their own stories and agendas that I'm not even joking when I say that it occasionally feels like a Robert Altman movie... if the master had constantly snorted cocaine rather than puffed Mary Jane.
Some of the chaotic teeming energy is undoubtedly aided by the use of long takes. Thankfully Verhoeven lets DP Jost Vacano's camera roam around the room in a few key sequences rather than relying on a million edits. We love long takes, yes we do. Way too few filmmakers ever think to use them.
But I finally had to settle on my favorite dance sequence for the best shot. It's the climax of sorts (though Showgirls really doesn't know when to quit -- abbreviate the two major subplots involving a rapist rocker and a womanizing choreographer and the movie is suddenly zippier), which finally brings our two anti-heroines together in costume, though they've rehearsed this number alone before in one of the movie's very best scenes.
To me that just says it all. It's a blue movie (pun intended), the anti-heroines are dressed identically "You and I... we're exactly the same" but their expressions are so different. Cristal is your devious delicious Bitch Goddess (the name of the show within the show), Nomi is the bizarrely innocent whore/plaything.
Come on, slave girl.Now, this slave girl is about to push her master down those monster stairs but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
You know the best advice I ever got? You're up there on stage, hoping on a spot. Someone gets in your way, step on 'em. If you're the only one left standing there, they hire you.'...Best Shot' Players
That's about it. Thank you and good night, ladies and gentlemen. Elvis has left the building.
Give it up for these
- My New Plaid Pants ass + palm trees + vomiting dolphins... "It doesn't suck!"
- Nick's Flick Picks ♪ listen all of y'all this is sabotage!
- Antagony & Ecstasy the solar plexus as phallus? Whaaa
- missemmamm honors Nomi's relentless thumbs and (starry) eyes
- Stale Popcorn "the creature from Nomi's Lagoon" great writeup
- vg21random believes in the hair & makeup. I agree. (In fact, I 100% believe that this movie deserved a few Oscar nods: makeup and Gina Gershon as Best Supporting Actress being the two most egregious snubs.)
Other Films in This Series
- Angels in America (2003)
- X-Men (2000)
- Bring It On (2000)
- Black Narcissus (1946)
- A Face in the Crowd (1957)
- Pandora's Box (1929)
- Se7en (1995)
- Requiem for a Dream (2000)