To the list of monstrous movie politicians who now seem desirable compared to Trump, add the conservative singer-turned-politician of Tim Robbins’ directorial debut. In 1992 it was the stuff of crazy fiction: A mockumentary that trailed a famous face who got a bug up his ass and decided to run for office. (It was only a Senate seat, but still.) He exploited populist fears, embellished the country’s hardships. He even hosted a “Saturday Night Live” stand-in. (The one difference: certain cast members actually boycotted it.) He played dirty and poisoned the public discourse. And as with most far-fetched satirical fiction, we all thought it was too ridiculous to happen for real. Boy, would we settle for a folk singing pol who sang right-wing songs now.
‘Grosse Pointe Blank’
John Cusack has a bit part in “Bob Roberts,” alongside friend and frequent co-star Tim Robbins. But for some pure, uncut Cusack, turn to one of his finest hours. In a film he also cowrote — though, given his eternally poor spelling over Twitter, just imagine the clean-up job — Cusack plays a hitman who returns home for his high school reunion. Looser and funkier than most post-Tarantino jobs, it also contains one of the great romantic pair-ups of the ’90s: John Cusack and Minnie Driver, the latter as the high school sweetheart whose heart he broke. Feisty and alert, Driver all but steals the show, even making the funny out of the obligatory third-act scream session.
Hollywood has long had a habit of plucking talented filmmaker from Europe and installing them in the system. Many of them flail. Paul Verhoeven thrived. Starting with “RoboCop,” the Dutch director was the multiplexes’ most subversive saboteur, cranking out grisly entertainments like “Total Recall,” “Basic Instinct” and, yes, “Showgirls” that cheekily undermined American mores. Someone this enjoyably rancid couldn’t get away with it forever, but it’s still a tragedy that the new French film “Elle” is Verhoeven’s first feature since this Dutch WWII thriller from 2006. Catch up with his last masterpiece, a WWII romp done his way. “Game of Thrones”’s Carice van Houten plays a resistance spy who infiltrates a Nazi ring, only to fall for one of their highers-ups (Sebastian Koch). As usual, the world is a moral murk, and we even get a scene where our brunette hero gets so extensive about going blonde that we see her dye her pubes. Oh, Verhoeven: Never change.