Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Basic Instinct 2

Yes, who would have ever thought that one day the New Yorker would title one of her blog entiries, “Basic Instinct 2”. But then again, who would have ever imagined that they’d hear the phrase “Basic Instinct 2” in their lifetime?

The original film Basic Instinct was released in 1992. That’s fourteen years ago folks, a very long time, and a sizeable gap to have between films in a franchise --if one is even bold enough to use the word “franchise” in this context. The original film was an erotic thriller/murder mystery, surrounding a murder in which famous novelist, Catherine Tramell, is the prime suspect. Michael Douglas played detective Nick Curran, who was assigned to the case, and is charmed by the elusive Tramell. In all honesty, I’ve never even seen the first film in its entirety. I’ve seen certain famous scenes of course, and am quite familiar with the jist of it, but even so it was not self evident, that it had a vibrant enough story to be extended into another film.

Last week, I saw the trailer for Basic Instinct 2, and I confess I find it absolutely spellbinding. Aside from the fact that I feel embarassed for Sharon Stone (who spearheaded the sequal from the beginning), I am simultaneously apalled and delighted by the degree of cheap trashiness that radiates from each frame. I mean, it’s clear that MGM, and a handful of other production companies, spent some money on the film; so it isn’t so much a literal sense of cheap as a metaphorical one. The film does have a decent director for the film with a fair amount of experience, --Michael Caton-Jones has done City by the Sea, The Jackal, Rob Roy and Doc Hollywood among others. The supporting players in BI2, like David Thewlis, David Morrissey, and Hugh Dancy are all respectable and adept British actors.

So why is it that this trailer makes you want to grind your teeth in anguish and grimace in pain?

Since Basic Instinct was released those fourteen years ago, it has become the butt of many a spoof and joke by comdiens, TV shows, movies. It has become one of those pop culture entities that resides in the collective consciousness. People, such as myself, who haven’t even seen the film all the way through, know about the “ice pick”, and the Sharon Stone interrogation scene. For us, knowledge of the film came from parodies (Florence Henderson on SNL), and radio personalities, among other sources. We already know the film in the context of a joke. For there to be a sequal to the film, trying desperately to be taken seriously is almost unbearably ridiculous and not a little sad. As you watch the trailer, you have to ask yourself repeatedly if what you are watching is “for real”. You have to ask yourself if the filmmakers were aware of the irony of their project, if they realized the title of their film reeked of straight to video or premium cable after hours fare.

Because the bottom line is, why make it Basic Instinct 2? It appears the only returning actor is Stone herself, and I’m dubious if it relies heavily on unresolved plotting from the first. Was the character of novelist Catherine Tramell really so enigmatic and fascinating that she needed to have an extra chapter in her story. Why not just make a thriller set in London, starring Sharon Stone, and call it something else. I feel almost certain that this would do better business than “Basic Instinct 2.” The most awkwardly hilarious moments in the trailer to watch are those where Stone is mugging herself in the first film, by brusquely straddling a chair, sultrily puffing away on a cigarette or flashing her best come hither glance. Stone is making fun of herself, but she doesn’t seem to know it, and that is the craziest thing of all.

For whatever reason, I’ve watched this trailer more than a few times. It’s too good. It’s too bad. It’s too much.


Blogger DoorFrame said...

The trailer looks very, VERY trashy. Is there a high quality version? I only saw a very scratchy trailer with lots and lots of nudity. I don't know if that was the official trailer or not, but it certainly didn't sell me on the film.

8:14 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Yeah, I don't think that's the right one...Try and watch it through the apple trailers website. There isn't much nudity in the official one, but it still manages to look hella trashy.

9:54 PM  

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