Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tricked (orig. Steekspel) [2012]

MPAA (UR would be R) (2 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* (R. de Gier) review*
Slant (N. McCarthy ) review

Tricked (orig. Steekspel) [2012] (directed and cowritten by Paul Verhoeven [IMDb], along with Kim van Kooten, Robert Alberdingk Thijm, story by Kim van Kooten along with the input of hundreds of Dutch contributors) is a fun "user generated" / "crowd-sourced" Dutch language (English subtitled) film that comes from the Netherlands that played recently at the 17th Annual European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago.

The concept was this:  After announcing the project on Dutch TV, Paul Verhoeven, et al, placed the script, written by Kim van Kooten for first four minutes of what he promised would be a "user generated" / "crowd-sourced" film on a Dutch website called and ASKED VIEWERS to submit script suggestions for the next four minutes.  These script suggestions would be processed and harmonized to produce the script for the next four minute installment, which would be then filmed and played on Dutch TV / placed on the website again, with VIEWERS asked to submit script suggestions for the next four minutes.  A total of 8 iterations of this process would be performed.

According to the 30 minute documentary segment about the making of the film that preceded the 55 minute final product, Paul Verhoeven, et al, noted that they averaged over 700+ full 5 page script suggestions for each installment plus multitudes of additional comments / suggestions, concurrent video enactments (by other troupes) of the script thus far.  And turn-around between segments was kept to about one month.

The somewhat eyes-rolling review by Nick McCarthy of Slant Magazine noted that Paul Verhoeven, et al simply "reinvented" the creative process that already effectively (if not explicitly) goes into making of any number of contemporary television series.  Nevertheless the project received in 2013 an International Emmy Award (for digital non-fiction) presumably for its originality.

Conceding that the concept was kinda gimmicky, I nevertheless FOUND IT FUN.

Okay, so what was the setup to the story?

The film begins at the home of Remco (played by Peter Blok) the head of some Dutch architectural firm on his 50th birthday.  We're introduced to his 40-something somewhat suspicious/somewhat resentful but 'script playing' corporate wife Ineke (played by Ricky Koole), their two college aged / young adult children Leike (played by Carolien Spoor) who's kind of a lush (she's introduced to us sitting at the breakfast table kinda hung-over) and camera toting Tobias (played by Robert de Hoog) who's later imagined to be something of a perv.

Remco goes to work where we're introduced to two of his junior partners Wim (played by Jochum ten Haaf) and Fred (played by Peter Tiddens).  We hear about a project that their firm is involved-in in Dubai.  As Remco leaves the office later that afternoon he salutes the two "see you at the party."

Remco's birthday party takes place at his house.  It's what one would expect a Party like this to be.  It's part for "family and friends" and part "for show"/"business" and as would be typical of a party like this, it's not necessarily easy to separate the two groups.  So Remco's family is there but so are his business associates.  However, two guests prove somewhat surprising:

First, Leike's BFF Merel (played by Gaite Jansen) shows up.  Leike, already holding a bottle of ... whatever (white wine or champagne) ... opens the door: "Merel?" "I'm here for the party!" Leike (eyes rolling), "But it's for my dad...," Merel (bouncy and smiling), "It's a party!"

Second, a former junior associate, mid-late 20 something Nadya (played  by Sallie Harmsen), that no one has seen for the last 6 months but everybody (including somewhat suspicious, at times resentful but knows the game 'corporate wife' Ineke) had assumed that Remco had been previously <...>, shows-up and looking 8 months pregnant.

Okay, where to we go?  The rest of the movie follows ... ;-)

Given that a project like this would attract the young ... it should not be surprising that a fair portion of the user-generated plot that follows is kinda seamy.  Yup, Leike's a lush, her best friend Merel is kinda a (somewhat gold-digging?) slut, camera toting Tobias' kinda a perv and dad Remco needs to keep his zipper-up.

BUT ... PRODUCTION CONSTRAINTS -- each of the segments out of which the film is assembled is ONLY 4 MINUTES LONG -- actually require that these personal peccadillos be more signaled than dwelt upon.  The result is a rather efficient / fast moving and often very funny film.

Yes, this film is not Gone with the Wind [1939] or Citizen Kane [1941] but it isn't Beevis and Butthead [1993] or even one or another "reality shows" (e.g. Survivor [2000]) either.  Instead there is user-generated plot and humor in the film that I don't think would come simply from "a talented group of 5-6 writers" ANY "5-6 writers."

So while the film was not exactly "high browed," perhaps most resembling a "user generated" Dutch Gossip Girl [2007-2012], credit needs to be given where credit is due: This was certainly a fun project that actually produced a pretty good / funny young adult-oriented (R-rated) film.

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