2007_09_arts_blackbookdvd.jpgBlack Book
(directed by Paul Verhoeven)

Growing up in Holland during their occupation by the Nazis, it's no surprise that Dutch director Paul Verhoeven would want to revisit that chapter of his country's history on film. But seeing as it is Verhoeven, director of such hilariously trashy and provocative films as Showgirls and Basic Instinct, he's not going to make a tame, reverent movie about the heroic Resistance. Black Book is a sexy, in-your-face Resistance movie and well-worth a home viewing.

Carice van Houten plays Rachel, a Jewish singer who is in hiding from the Nazi occupation and pretending to be a Gentile woman named Ellis. After her hideout is raided and she sees her family brutally murdered, she ends up joining the Resistance fighters and is tasked to seduce a German officer (The Lives of Others's Sebastian Koch) to get insider information. After appearing in this film, van Houten was cast in Tom Cruise's Nazi thriller Valkyrie and somehow, we have the sinking feeling it was the audacious pubic hair shot that got her the gig. "Dying the curtains to match the drapes" on screen is always a sure fire way to get you noticed and van Houten deserves the attention after this compelling performance. In addition to the movie's erotically charged moments, it actually has a pretty exciting thriller plot and the final twists imply a less than black-and-white villain.

Other new DVDs being released this week include an unrated version of Judd Apatow's heartwarming and hilarious Knocked Up, the unfairly over-looked satire The TV Set, Ashley Judd's arty horror Bug, the last season of My Name Is Earl (with Emmy-winning Jaime Prestley) and a special editon of the Oscar-nominated Babel. Usually we don't go so far as to recommend not renting something but please, don't waste your time on Evening and it's deceptively star-studded cast. It was just dreadful and not worth even renting.