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Showgirls exists as this bizarre, mid-’90s pop art spectacle that for a time afterward, existed as a, “you had to be there” moment to grasp why it mattered. In a way, the ferocious marketing, tailored to the NC-17 rating, forcibly removed the final puritan embers in cinema. Paul Verhoeven loved doing that, but ended up with Showgirls. Twenty years on, there’s You Don’t Nomi.

There’s nothing mentioned about You Don’t Nomi’s production, but it feels like the first COVID-era documentary. Other than in EPK interviews, Showgirls’ key players never appear for interviews. No one does, actually. Rather than talking heads, authors and critics discuss Verhoeven’s cult icon over images of the director’s work. Sometimes it’s clever – a RoboCop scene spliced together with Showgirls footage bringing an entertaining visual to a talk-y retrospective.

While not visually captivating, You Don’t Nomi still draws attention to this bizarre film

In that way, You Don’t Nomi plays like a bonus feature itself, an elaborate essay from multiple perspectives, supporters and detractors alike. Time is spent dissecting Verhoeven’s filmography as a whole, bridging his work in smart, observant ways. How he treats women, how he presents society, his use of mirrors; Verhoeven’s work carries these motifs and as presented in You Don’t Nomi, building to the near career-demolishing Showgirls.

While not visually captivating, You Don’t Nomi still draws attention to this bizarre film, and in some cases, the fans who kept it alive. Footage from drag performances, unofficial parody stage shows, and midnight screenings convey a movement that isn’t yet publicly visible compared to say, Rocky Horror Picture Show. As shown here, Showgirls bubbled up, maybe from curious nostalgia as those too young to actually see it in 1995 went back to discover this odd… thing. You Don’t Nomi’s main takeaway is that no one agrees about what Showgirls is, or, was ever meant to be, not even those who made it. Hearing those ideas and interpretations invigorate a new camp classic.

Of all those interviewed, April Kidwell tells the most personal, even crushing story regarding Showgirls. In playing Elizabeth Berkley’s role in satirical stage plays, Kidwell found a means of therapy and expression after trauma. Showgirls allowed Kidwell (to an extent) to find help when she couldn’t afford professionals. It’s fun to poke and prod at Showgirls, safely mocking or supporting it from a distance, yet Kidwell’s open retelling adds an unexpected layer to You Don’t Nomi, legitimizing this documentary as much as the film itself.

Video

Pulled from various sources, the image wavers in quality. Scenes from Showgirls come from a decent master, if overly compressed with exaggerated color. Verhoeven’s early work draws from SD sources, along with other films. Likewise, stage performances jump from mobile phone footage to high-grade HD imagery.

On Blu-ray, the gain is little as a result. It’s fine, but as a collection of imagery, generally marginal. Bright, nicely dense where possible, but all over the place.

Audio

Likewise, DTS-HD is a lot for a speaking-based feature. The 5.1 offered doesn’t do anything away from the fronts, expanding a little for movie clips. Everything else sticks to the center. It is appreciated how consistent the various interviewees sound, as it’s unlikely they were recorded together or with the same equipment.

Extras

Nothing.

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You Don't Nomi
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Telling how Showgirls went from bomb to cult hit, You Don’t Nomi looks back at Paul Verhoeven’s film with an engaging critical eye.

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