Thursday, November 20, 2014

572. Turks fruit/Turkish Delight (1973)

Running Time: 112 minutes
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven
Written By: Gerard Soeteman, from the novel Turks Fruit by Jan Wolkers
Main Cast: Rutger Hauer, Monique van de Ven, Tonny Huurdeman, Wim van den Brink, Dolf de Vries

Note: I don't have a whole lot of time to play with tonight, but I just couldn't sit down to write tonight without mentioning the passing of Mike Nichols - let alone sitting down to write a movie review. I was a big fan of Nichols and he's certainly a director that's been on my radar long before my delving into the 1001 Movies BOOK. I saw Closer on the recommendation of no one in 2004, when it was released on DVD and fell in love with it instantly. I remember going and seeking out Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate and even blind buying Angels In America (though I never watched it and later sold it) not long after and telling myself that the name Mike Nichols needed to be kept fresh in my mind.Thoughts and prayers to his family. Such a huge loss to the world of cinema...


On to more pleasant business as I kick off my final director tribute of the season with a three film tip of the hat to Paul Verhoeven, as I polish off his other three movies from THE BOOK (I've already watched Total Recall, last November). I'll be doing them chronologically, so first up is his 1973 offering and a film that, in 1999, was named the Best Dutch Film of the Century - Turkish Delight.

I love this shot, as it gives you a real "what the hell" thought process, especially if you see it before seeing the movie.

The film starts by introducing us to Eric Vonk (Hauer), a sexually promiscuous, towhead artist who fancies collecting explicit souvenirs from his female partners. Within the span of the first five or so minutes of the film, we see Vonk bed down with various different women, a man whore on the rise for sure. Suddenly, we flash back two years to just before Eric met Olga Stapels (van de Ven), the barely legal, yet incredibly sexy woman that picks up Eric as he's hitchhiking. The two "intermingle" almost immediately in the car and moments later, Olga crashes into a tree, bloodying herself up pretty badly. Eric flags down help and we flash forward a month or so into the future. Now, Eric is trying desperately to get in touch with Olga, to no avail. He has her address, but she lives with her parents and they refuse to let him see her. Eventually he gets around them and whisks Olga away, ultimately marrying her. From here it's basically a series of vignettes as we work our way back to present day and the current Eric who is without Olga and with MANY others. We see various scenes of the enviable couple, including scenes of them building sand castles on the beach, a scene where they try to have sex but are constantly interrupted and a scene where Olga thinks she may have bowel cancer, only to be reassured by Eric. Their relationship takes the normal twists & turns of any relationship: good times, bad times, broken hearts, tears and ultimately....well, you'll see...


The rain scene that I loved so much and perhaps Verhoeven's little hat tip to Gene Kelly?

First of all, if full frontal nudity and sexually explicit dialogue are too much for you, then you may want to skip Turks Fruit and go for something a bit more wholesome. Of course, if you're reading pas the SPOILER ALERT line, I guess it's too late to warn you. In fact, I applaud Verhoeven for intertwining such a beautiful love story with such an aggressive sexual experience for the audience. It was a union that surely wasn't easy and probably didn't come without flack from certain circles and critics. I love how, when dissected, the film doesn't even seem to be cut from the same cloth. If one were to watch the first half of this movie, throw down their prude card and walk out, they'd probably be shocked to be told how it all ended and that this movie actually, at times, reminded me of something straight out of Nicholas Sparks' typewriter. Was it just me or did the film also tend to resemble Luis Bunel's work? And while you can make comparisons to other filmmaker's and authors, the film was, at the same time, wholly original, beautiful, cringe worthy, heartbreaking and hilarious all at the same time. In other words...such a good movie.

I've noticed lately that it's rare that a film will make me genuinely smile. Not laugh, but smile. I found myself, however, grinning ear to ear at certain scenes between Eric and Olga. It so much reminded me of a real relationship and that's what made it all the more hard when it came time for the ending. Notice how the character of Olga changes just slightly throughout the film, proving that we're seeing things through Eric's eyes (this is also established early on, when we're shown a fantasy sequence of Eric killing Olga and her new lover, without knowing right away that it is indeed a fantasy sequence). From the time they meet until their marriage, Olga is coy and allruing, sexy at all times no matter what. After the wedding bells, she begins to get a bit naggy, more childish even. And in the end, when she's facing death, she wants only Eric, her one true love. Anyway, I genuinely smiled throughout the film: the beach scene, when Eric is legitimately picking on Olga, but ultimately caves and embraces her, the two sharing a fire side cuddle. Or when they drink wine in the pouring rain, only for that moment to end abruptly as Olga is invited to a party and Eric is left alone. I felt a glimpse of what I'd feel if it were my own wife being called away during a tender moment: a sense of jealousy for the party goers who'll get to share her company instead of me.

I TRY to avoid putting pictures depicting nudity or sex on the blog, but this was EASILY the best shot in the movie and one I liked so much that I put the movie on my computer and did a screen grab, just so I could display it here.

The ending is incredibly sad, as Eric plays the Shirley MacLaine to Olga's Debra Winger and we have to remind ourselves that movies are fiction and that this loss is only make believe. The film makes the viewer run the gamut of emotions, finally setting us free in the end, much like Eric's pet pigeon. I wondered when the film started if this was just going to be the stringing together of one bare ass to the next, but I quickly realized that there was actually a means to an end for all the sexual stuff and finally, I didn't mind it whatsoever. It showed that all relationships begin with a physical, animal like attraction and one time in a million the animal instincts are trumped in favor of real, human emotions. Eric slept around with a dozen women in an effort to find his next Olga, yet soon realized that these situations only tend to occur once in a lifetime and ultimately he was lead back to his true love, yet unfortunately it was as her caretaker, by her bedside.

In conclusion, this was great and I'm left realizing that the name Rutger Hauer, someone who only two days ago I knew only as an actor with a funny name, will now mean something to me. It makes me wonder of all the other celebrities names I've heard only and how many of those I'll someday be able to connect to a personal experience. Now when I hear that name, it won't be just a funny sounding one, but will also come with the memory of this fantastic piece of cinema, a movie that I won't soon forget. It's hard to find, but I promise it's worth the hunt and please, do your best to not give up on it after the first thirty minutes.

RATING: 10/10  Only the second '10/10' given all season, although the first was "Cuckoo's Nest" and that was getting a '10' regardless, as it was an old time favorite. I've been waiting for something this good to come along and here's hoping "Soldier of Orange" and "The Fourth Man" are just as good.


November 20, 2014  9:50pm

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