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September 26, October 16 | Paul Verhoeven Film Talks on September 28
SIFF’s Paul Verhoeven Film Talks series takes a deep dive into the work of the elfin Danish filmmaker who takes a particular delight in crafting movies designed to provoke, titillate, and outrage you, and yes, might make you laugh a lot as well. Such is the case with Showgirls, a glossy mash-up of Dynasty and All About Eve (with bare breasts). This NC-17 story of stripper-turned-Las-Vegas-showgirl Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), who never met an obstacle on her rise to the top that she didn’t want to obliterate, was a notorious flop on its release; what was supposed to be a harsh look at the sordid side of Vegas turned out to be ludicrously cheesy. But that very cheesiness proved to be its everlasting charm, and a cult classic was born. It’s still the kind of spectacle that has to be seen to be believed; the hyperventilating acting style, the dialogue that makes Jackie Collins novels seem like Shakespeare, the elaborate musical numbers, each more over-the-top than the last. And you will never pronounce the name “Versace” the same way again.
Prepare for the talk by seeing the film, in luscious 35mm, at SIFF Cinema Uptown. The talk, by John Trafton (who teaches cinema and media studies at Seattle University and for SIFF’s Education Program), follows two days later at SIFF’s Film Center, and can be attended either in person or virtually. And you’ll get another chance to see the film on October 16 at Northwest Film Forum, as part of their “Mourning Sickness” series, hosted by drag superstar Monday Mourning, with special pre-screening live entertainment.