American Graffiti

Is Hollywood fascist, or just stupid and tasteless? First Brad Pitt plays a former SS trooper in Seven Years in Tibet. Now Paul Verhoeven's long-hyped Starship Troopers - an insanely militaristic, futuristic sci-fi bloodbath - has finally arrived and is threatening to become the smash hit of the season. Verhoeven's film is based on the 1959 novel by Robert A Heinlein. Dripping with Cold War paranoia and reeking of the Third Reich, the book was in fact rejected by Heinlein's publisher - a rival house picked it up and went on to sell a million copies. The film pits huge, computer-generated arachnids against a co-ed army of Aryan types (in the future, the men and women of the military will apparently shower together). Incidentally, the leads - Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, and Patrick Muldoon - have all appeared on either Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place at some point in their embryonic careers.

The movie's use of Nazi imagery borders on the ostentatious - "It's wink- wink Riefenstahl," Verhoeven told Entertainment Weekly, admitting that the opening scene of Troopers pays homage to Leni Riefenstahl's infamous Triumph of the Will. It doesn't stop there: scenes of giant roaches being gleefully squashed seem like a not-especially-ironic inversion of Nazi hate-mongering. Verhoeven, the man behind Basic Instinct, RoboCop and Showgirls, once directed an anti-fascist movie (Soldier of Orange), and he plainly doesn't subscribe to Heinlein's rabid worldview; but if Starship Troopers proves anything, it's that subtle, subversive satire doesn't come easily to a director whose forte is unintentional humour.

The hot Hollywood bootleg of the moment (apparently honoured at a number of screening parties in recent weeks) is the home video that was stolen last year from the bedroom of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. Thanks to Variety columnist Michael Fleming, who "felt obliged to view it and provide a review", we now know a little more about its contents than we need to - among other things, that Lee's jittery camerawork has a "David Fincher- esque feel", that the couple "make passionate love what seems like 10 times in a short span of time, one place more inventive than the next", and that "God is referred to a total of 13 times" in the, er, climactic scene, which takes place on a speeding boat. Should anyone have plans to distribute this eminently marketable video, Fleming has also generously provided the most effusive of blurbs. Comparing it to the evidently low-tech "Rob Lowe threesome" tape, he writes, "Pam-Tommy is Citizen Kane!"

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