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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:19 pm 
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PETER BLOK AND GAITE JANSEN IN TRICKED

An "experiment" by Paul Verhoeven that's a gossipy farce

Paul Verhoeven's Tricked, which Kino Loeber is bringing out in video and VOD exclusive on Fandor, and giving a four-wall release at Cinema Village in NYC February 26, is billed as "the first crowd-sourced film." If different people contributed bits of narrative without knowing the rest, it would be surreal, like the actual Surrealists' 1930's "exquisite corpses" in which grotesque drawings were created that way, each person contributed a drawing on a folded piece of paper they didn't see the whole of. In fact, the filmmakers cherry-picked out of some 700 online submissions the ones that fit together into their story, resulting in what Jay Weissberg calls in Variety a "mildly amusing" "soaper." It is indeed like a soap, but what isn't? It is gossipy, and I guess that's because the "crowd" contributions are much reliant on scandalous nuggets of sexual misbehavior. It really is kind of fun; the only trouble is it's too short, and it's filmed, indeed, in a flat, style-less for-TV manner.

Tricked focuses on a short period in the life of handsome, stylish fifty-year-old corporate sleazebag Remco (Peter Blok), whose construction firm is in some financial difficulties. He's not on too good terms with his wife Ineke (Ricky Koole), daughter Lieke (Carolien Spoor) or son Tobias (Robert de Hoog), because he's been such a philanderer he hasn't had much time to be a good husband and father. The action begins with a little at-home celebration of his fiftieth birthday. His ex-girlfriend Nadja (Sallie Harmsen) shows up at the party, big with child. She tells a story about a Japanese father who tragically passed away, but then tells Remco privately that the baby is his.

And then unfolds Nadja's plot, which turns out to be arranged with Remco's business partner Wim (Jochum ten Haaf), to force Remco to agree to sell the corporation to Chinese investors in return for Nadja's promising not to say he's responsible for her baby. This scheme is exploded by the pretty young Merel (Gaite Jansen), Remco's latest girlfriend, who's Remco's daughter Lieke's best friend, and is also beginning a serious and more age-appropriate flirtation with Remco's son Tobias; Merel collaborates with Remco's wife Ineke in this operation.

As I recount these events, it occurs to me they could provide as good material for a traditional French farce -- the Paris Boulevard kind, for instance -- as for a soap opera. If staged well theatrically they could produce some good surprises and laughs. Well, we'll have to call this Dutch farce. In the event, the variously assembled material is presented straightforwardly, and winds up being, exactly as Weissberg says, just "mildly amusing." It's good-natured: the baddies are Wim and the scheming Nadja, and they get their comeuppance, but it's not dwelt upon . Remco's womanizing certainly isn't condoned, but he's not punished too cruelly. Indulgent wifery is celebrated in Ineke, who says if she had it all to do over again, she'd still choose marriage to Remco. And the story ends with the pair of them reunited for a romantic evening.

Maybe all this needed to be truly interesting would have been a bit of complication, some sly subtexts, more visual style, and more distinctive direction from Verhoeven to be a pretty cool movie. But under the circumstances apparently that would have been asking more of Verhoeven & Co. than they could deliver in this experiment. And to refer to Weissberg again, making anything half decent out of crowd-sourced material may just be "a maddening experience, besides being a monumental time-waster," as the opening co-packaged film "Paul's Experience" strives to make clear. But that isn't necessarily true either. Think of Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth's The Five Obstructions: oddball filmmaking challenges can lead to memorable and interesting stuff, if a director is worth learning more about. The jury is still out on Verhoeven, but clearly he has his fans.

Tricked/Steekspel, listed as 55 mins. but shorter in the screener I viewed; ten writers are listed. It debuted at the Rome Film Festival 12 November 2012. A NYTimes blog from Rome said "'Tricked' too lives online, on a mobile app and as a Web series." It opened theatrically in the Netherlands Mar. 2013, and showed at Tribeca Apr. 2013, then had a US theatrical debut 13 December 2013. Tricked will be shown at Cinema Village in New York startin Fri., 26 Feb. 2016.

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