We watched Basic Instinct last week.
The first thing that struck me was: this is an eighteens movie. I can’t think of a movie made in the last few years – a popular, mainstream kind of movie – where you’d say it was an eighteens movie. But Basic Instinct is. Jesus, the first scene. It’s not only sex – it’s sex where a woman is on top. That was probably prohibited in American until 1992. And then it’s violent as hell all of a sudden. A short while later, the Michael Douglas character rapes his ex-girlfriend (but it’s 1992, so I suppose the audience was supposed to think he was just coming on too strong).
The next thing that strikes you is: this is a shit movie.
And then half an hour after that, when you’re surprised you’re still watching it, you think: this isn’t a shit movie. And you start wondering if it’s just you or is the screenwriter, Joe Eszterhas, referencing Vertigo all the time: those car rides around San Francisco, the shots of the city’s streets, the platinum blonde, the uncertainty about two of the women – which is the real one (in this case, the real killer)?