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November 10, 2013

Starz Denver Film Festival 2013 - Tricked


Paul Verhoeven - 2012
D Street Releasing

The making of Tricked is actually more interesting than the film that was made. The final product is a cute divertissement, and perhaps Paul Verhoeven prefers it that way after a career marked by big special effects films during his Hollywood tenure. In keeping with the Verhoeven most of us know and love, there is some sex, and some attractive blondes, but after Showgirls and Basic Instinct, some might find Tricked almost prudish.

Verhoeven began with a four page opening scene from writer Kim Van Hooten. Someone thought it would be a good idea to have the general public contribute there ideas for the next seven episodes in a film that lasts less than an hour. Verhoeven finds that his challenge is to sift through more contributions than he might have anticipated, tossing out suggestions that would not logically follow in the initial premise, with the goal of making a cohesive story. Somehow it all works. The documentary beginning of Tricked, shows Verhoeven discussing the making of his film, with scenes of the actors in rehearsal and during the shoot. Verhoeven talks about how he likes to challenge himself, as he says, to step into the unknown.

The basic story is about a businessman who may be forced to sell out his construction company due to the machinations of his partners. At the same time, a former girlfriend shows up, pregnant. The businessman's current girlfriend is best friends with his daughter, and is on the verge of hooking up with his son. The wife is not quite the passive observer that she she appears to be. Nothing really extraordinary, but the film does become progressively funnier, with one gag that would be even more audacious had Verhoeven not given away one of the character's big secret beforehand.

Verhoeven calls Tricked his "Fourteen and a half", based on his directing fourteen features plus this not-quite feature length film. The numbers don't include the various shorts, videos and documentaries made over the years. And this ain't no Fellini, either. Still, there are bit and pieces that serve as little reminders for those who have followed Verhoeven's career from the Netherlands to Hollywood and back of his previous work. In the documentary first third of Tricked, there are photos of Verhoeven on the sets of some of his films. He discussed using a new camera, the digital Alexa, with most of the shots done hand-held. A photo from the set of Turkish Delight is instructive, with Verhoeven with Jan De Bont, and the larger, heavier, 35mm camera used for that film. Verhoeven should be given credit for trying to reinvent himself as filmmaker, working with a smaller budget, with more improvisation, and creative input from his crew.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 10, 2013 07:01 AM