After a 10-year absence, Paul Verhoeven has returned to feature filmmaking with “Elle.” The controversial filmmaker’s latest has been widely acclaimed since premiering at Cannes earlier this year, and in the leadup to its imminent theatrical release he’s had the chance to talk about such earlier works as “RoboCop” and “Total Recall.” Both films have recently been remade, and Verhoeven has a theory as to why these new takes were unsuccessful: “They take these somewhat absurd stories and make them much too serious.”
“I think that is a mistake,” he continues in an interview with Collider. “Both those movies needed the distance of satire or comedy to situate it for audiences. Playing it straight without any humour is a problem and not an improvement.” Verhoeven’s films have long been noted for their stylized depictions of extreme violence, though his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor has sometimes been misinterpreted or unnoticed.
He certainly has his proponents, however — Adam Nayman’s book “It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls” has helped usher in a critical reevaluation of Verhoeven’s famous flop, while the satirical staying power of “Starship Troopers” only seems to increase with time. “Elle,” which stars Isabelle Huppert, will be released on November 16.