- Stone's new novel,
the one Douglas reads by accident, describes the exact
circumstances of Gus's murder BEFORE it happens. The description
includes the exact details - the legs sticking out of the
elevator, for example. How could that be the case if Tripplehorn
was the murderer? Are we to believe that Stone has the gift of
prophecy? Of course not, she must be the murderer. Douglas is a
detective, and he knows everything we know. The unpublished novel
is the "smoking gun" that Stone did it. Douglas knows
that Stone is the murderer FOR SURE the minute he sees Gus's legs
hanging out of the elevator. Yet a minute later he guns down
- Speaking of which,
Stone had no way to know Douglas would shoot Tripplehorn. How did
she know Tripplehorn would hesitate to raise her hands, or reach
in her pocket to give Douglas those keys. Most important, she saw
Douglas read the unpublished novel, so why would she think that
Douglas would shoot Tripplehorn after seeing Gus dead in the
elevator? Makes no sense.
- And why did
Tripplehorn need to
reach in her pocket for the keys at that very moment, while he was
pointing a loaded gun at her? The woman was a psychologist, facing
a man with crazy eyes and an itchy trigger finger.
Certainly she knew better.
- Is it plausible to
find so many clues pointing back and forth, first to one woman,
then the other. Don't all these tennis-match neck turners stretch
our credulity too far, and tend to contradict each other
eventually? For example, Stone's lesbian girlfriend tries to kill
Michael Douglas. We viewers know this for a fact. Douglas knows
this for a fact. Yet Douglas never asks himself, "OK, if
Tripplehorn committed the murders, why did Stone's girlfriend try
to kill me?" Stone already said that this woman had seen her
fuck a zillion other guys without getting jealous. Why would she
have anything special against Douglas if you assume Tripplehorn is
the murderer? The only possible explanation resides in Stone being
the murderer and somehow manipulating the emotions of the lesbian
girlfriend. All of these neck-turners are just little devices,
with no thought given to whether they hold up in light of the
other plot elements.
- Speaking of contradictory
elements, there is actually one good argument to support Tripplehorn
as the killer. In fact, it's almost an argument stopper. What the
hell was she doing in the vicinity of suite 405 in the scene where
she and Gus were killed? She claimed that Gus called her, but the
script explicitly reveals that the phone records did not support
that. If Gus did not call her, there are only two remaining
possibilities: (1) Catherine called her, or (2) she is the murderer.
If Catherine had called her, she would have told Shooter that. That
seems to leave her with only one way to know where Gus would be. She
had to have set it up.
why would she set it up? Neither woman could have known that Shooter
would be there at the Gus rendezvous. Gus swung by unannounced to
pick him up. In fact, it was unlikely that Shooter would be there
since (1) Shooter was on suspension; and (2) Gus did not call in
advance to see if Shooter would be available. He just showed up.
Since Shooter wasn't really in the mix, the entire purpose of the
rendezvous had to be to kill Gus. Stone had planned just that in her
novel, right down to the feet sticking from the elevator. On the
other hand, Tripplehorn had no reason to kill Gus. She couldn't have
done it to frame Stone, because she had no way to know about the
scene in Catherine's unpublished novel.
- The final scene,
the one after the blackout, is dumb. Stone must be the murderer, but
she wouldn't kill Douglas with the ice pick again. That would
up her alibi for all the other murders, which by then were believed to
have been committed by the late Tripplehorn. She might kill Big
Mike, but she'd have to find a new and more brilliant way to do
- Equally important,
we actually see the murder in the first scene and there is no
similarity between the body of Jeanne Tripplehorn and the
murderer, so we already know it couldn't have been Tripplehorn in
that scene. We
are left with an impression that it might not have been Stone,
because they obscured her face, but it surely wasn't Tripplehorn.
By the way, in the
new DVD commentary, director Paul Verhoeven showed that he was no fool. He
completely understood the logical flaws in the script, and even
mentioned how hard it was for him and the actors to work around them.
On the other hand, he was the man in charge. He could have made a few
key changes. If I were re-cutting
this, I would do the following:
1) eliminate the brief shot of
Shooter reading the unpublished novel, which makes it clear that
Catherine was the killer.
2) eliminate the single statement (in the epilogue) that Beth wasn't
called by Gus, which implied that Beth was the killer.
3) eliminate the last-second shot of
the ice pick. I would have stopped the camera's downward pan before
revealing what was beneath. It's obvious that Catherine could not kill
Shooter on that occasion, especially with her ice pick. How the hell
could she explain that away? Beth is dead, so there would be nobody
left to pin it on.
Just by cutting out those ten seconds or so, one might make the ending
much more ambiguous and far less cheesy. Also, if one could re-shoot a
few seconds, it would also be a good idea if Beth did not reach into
her pocket. She's a trained psychologist facing someone with the crazy
eyes, and since there is no gun there, she has no reason to reach down
there other than because the plot requires it. Somebody should have
found a more logical way for Shooter to off Beth.
Director Paul Verhoeven is someone I always forget about I talk about the guys
with the biggest gap between their best and worst movies. (Did
you know the guy who directed Patton also directed Yes, Georgio?) At his peak, Verhoeven directed respected films like
"Soldaat van Oranje" and "De Vierde Man". In the
middle he directed some of my favorite fun junk movies like
"Starship Troopers", "Robocop" and "Total
Recall". On the lower end, he directed "Showgirls". His
range at IMDb is from 7.5 to 3.5. In all fairness, though, the direction of
"Showgirls" is good. The visuals are often dazzling. The real
culprit in "Showgirls" was the screenwriter. Can you guess
who it was? None other than omnipresent Joe Eszterhas, who also wrote
Basic Instinct. He also wrote the scripts for "Jade," "Sliver," and "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn." Not that
a bad script really
matters to "Basic Instinct." You don't watch this film to
see the plot, let's face it. The plot is only the container for the
worthwhile elements.. It's one of the five sexiest mainstream movies ever
made. Sharon Stone is naked throughout. It has sex scenes that border
on porn. It has the famous beaver scene. Who the hell cares about the
silly plot, anyway?
DVD info from Amazon.
Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1
uncut European version (aka "director's cut")
comment by post-feminist Camille Paglia
of the theatrical dialogue to the TV version
Blu-Ray info from Amazon.
fact, it is a pretty good
movie, although the plot isn't tight. It's a lot of fun to watch. The
musical score works beautifully to enhance the tension. The performing
is good. The sex scenes are hot. The photography is involving. The
direction works very well to support the narrative. The
characterizations are memorable. It had great mainstream appeal for
such an explicit movie, and was a major hit as well as a
much-discussed cultural phenomenon. It made Sharon Stone a star.
Between the sex scenes and her leg-crossing scene, the film offers one
of the most explicit exposures of a mainstream actress in the history
years ago, we
ran a poll to determine "the best movie with
substantial nudity". My members voted for Basic Instinct. I cast
my vote for A Clockwork Orange, but I was badly outvoted. I guess the
wording of the poll was unclear. To determine my vote, I made a mental
list of all the movies with substantial nudity, then picked the one I
thought to be the best movie. I think most of the other guys thought,
"Of all the movies that I like, which one has the best sex
scenes?" Basic Instinct is certainly a good answer from that
General consensus: two and a half
stars. Ebert 2/4, Apollo 65, Maltin 3/4
summary. Forty five articles on file. 75%
- With their
votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters
score it 6.8.
- With their
dollars ... it was a smash across the world. It took in
$117 million in the USA, and $235 million overseas. It has
generated another $50 million in rental income since going
to video tape. The budget was $49 million.
guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of
excellence, about like three and a half stars
from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm
watchability, about like two and a half stars
from the critics. The fives are generally not
worthwhile unless they are really your kind of
material, about like two stars from the critics.
Films under five are generally awful even if you
like that kind of film, equivalent to about one
and a half stars from the critics or less,
depending on just how far below five the rating
guideline: A means the movie is so good it
will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not
good enough to win you over if you hate the
genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an
open mind about this type of film. C means it will only
appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover
appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you
like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if
you love the genre. F means that the film is not only
unappealing across-the-board, but technically
inept as well.
Based on this
description, this film is a B-. Despite the plot holes, it is probably the
most popular erotic thriller of all time, and was a
much-discussed cultural touchstone.