Tag Archives: Rutger Hauer

Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott), the final cut

I’m having trouble working up the enthusiasm for a Blade Runner post. Not because it isn’t a great film, but because I don’t really want to engage in this “Final Cut” business, which I guess I’m going to do anyway. I’ll get it out of the way… Ridley Scott’s “Final Cut” is, so far as I can tell–with the exception of the filmic equivalents of sound bytes–no different from the studio-produced “Director’s Cut.” Or, if he did add or remove anything, it doesn’t change the experience. I kept waiting for something to provide further evidence for his overall thesis on the piece and it isn’t there (having the actor and writers working against you–not to mention the source novel, though I can’t see Ridley reading the source novel–can’t help). It’s cleaner, clearer and the same as the last time I watched it. Or as I recall.

Trying to figure out how Ridley Scott could have turned out such a delicate and subtle film–Blade Runner is, essentially, a film noir set in the future, but down to the subtext of people and their work and their relationship to that work, which figures greatly in to all film noir (and, actually, Ridley’s “truth” behind the film would invalidate). It’s a film noir in the classic, non-neo-noir sense. Sure, the Rutger Hauer scenes break away a little, but it’s really about the detective. And, in the truest film noir sense, it’s about the detective spending a long time figuring something out he could have figured out in a minute had he not been drunk and feeling sorry for himself.

And even though he becomes secondary for a lot of the last act, Blade Runner is one of Harrison Ford’s best performances. He’s the Dick Powell of the future. While Hauer is excellent too, I think Sean Young was the most surprising. She’s perfect in the role. The supporting cast is also excellent, but it’s mostly about those three.

As for Ridley. I really cannot reconcile the excellence he does in this film with anything else he’s done before or since. It suggests a real understanding of the material, though everything he says about the film suggests he doesn’t have one. Though… he relies a lot on Vangelis’s score, which manages to make the future, visibly uninteresting and banal to the film’s characters, magical to the viewer.

Until the second to last scene… when Ford gets the magic too.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Ridley Scott; screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick; director of photography, Jordan Cronenweth; edited by Marsha Nakashima and Les Healey; music by Vangelis; production designer, Lawrence G. Paull; produced by Michael Deeley and Charles de Lauzirika; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Harrison Ford (Rick Deckard), Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty), Sean Young (Rachael), Edward James Olmos (Gaff), M. Emmet Walsh (Bryant), Daryl Hannah (Pris), William Sanderson (J.F. Sebastian), Brion James (Leon Kowalski), Joe Turkel (Eldon Tyrell), Joanna Cassidy (Zhora), James Hong (Hannibal Chew) and Morgan Paull (Holden).


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Nighthawks (1981, Bruce Malmuth)

Catherine Mary Stewart’s British? She’s in Nighthawks for a second and she looked familiar but I don’t keep track of her filmography, so I didn’t find out until the end credits. (Actually, she’s Canadian, which is closer than I thought). Besides that trivia tidbit–if it even qualifies as a tidbit–the most amusing thing about Nighthawks is the name of the good guy’s anti-terrorism task force (A.T.A.C., get it?). They wear navy blue jumpsuits and have caps. Their headquarters is a huge garage. Maybe a warehouse.

Nighthawks is amusing in its stupidity, but only to a certain point. The film doesn’t seem to appreciate its awfulness. It’s ludicrously written, at least with Stallone and Billy Dee Williams as the cops. The Rutger Hauer scenes are a little bit better (most of the film is all Hauer, which is fine). When Nigel Davenport shows up at the beginning, I remember hoping he would only be in it for a cameo, but then he comes back in and is terrible for more. Oh, and Joe Spinell is terrible. I almost forgot about him.

Besides the script, which is incompetent, the film’s director, Bruce Malmuth, is bad in the most uninteresting ways. He can’t create a mood, can’t direct actors, can’t compose shots. Stallone’s got a few good scenes, actually, but the stuff between him and Williams range in quality. A few times, you can see Stallone trying to get more screen time and it doesn’t really work for the characters, who are apparently friends (though it’s hard to know; Nighthawks doesn’t have much in the way of backstory–it’s all exposition getting toward the final scene). When it finally does get to be Stallone’s turn, when he really does have to do really well… he fails, but it’s not like it was going to turn Nighthawks around. It was going to be terrible–the scene itself terrible too–no matter what.

I can’t forget to say something about the extraordinary score–Keith Emerson doesn’t get how to score a movie. Whatsoever. Nighthawks probably wouldn’t have been any better with a real score, but at least it wouldn’t induce laughter….

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Bruce Malmuth; screenplay by David Shaber, based on a story by Shaber and Paul Sylbert; director of photography, James A. Contner; edited by Stanford C. Allen and Christopher Holmes; music by Keith Emerson; production designer, Peter S. Larkin; produced by Herb Nanas and Martin Poll; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (Det. Sgt. Deke DaSilva), Billy Dee Williams (Det. Sgt. Matthew Fox), Lindsay Wagner (Irene), Persis Khambatta (Shakka Holland), Nigel Davenport (Peter Hartman), Rutger Hauer (Wulfgar), Hilary Thompson (Pam) and Joe Spinell (Lt. Munafo).


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The Osterman Weekend (1983, Sam Peckinpah)

Very few filmmakers have a good last film. Kubrick was incredibly lucky. Hitchcock was not. In general, directors tend to wane in their later careers–Clint Eastwood’s blossoming into such an artist aside–and, depending on their popularity and influence, they live into the era they inspired and no one wants to listen to them anymore. Orson Welles once accepted an award for Citizen Kane and told his granters he loved getting an award when he couldn’t get money to make a new film. Peckinpah’s producers on The Osterman Weekend took it away from him in editing, while Peckinpah was hospitalized no less. Still, there was nothing for Peckinpah to fix.

I’ve actually read the novel by Robert Ludlum–in eighth grade or something–and Ludlum writes big books. The weekend of the title doesn’t even start until forty minutes into the film, after a lengthy setup and a car chase. Peckinpah had lost the touch, recycling his Wild Bunch style for the chase scene. It’s still somehow effective in a few parts–the slow motion and the regular speed sound–but it’s a desperate attempt to thrill and it doesn’t work. The slow motion comes back in the end, during a fight scene between Rutger Hauer and Craig T. Nelson. Craig T. Nelson knows kung fu in The Osterman Weekend. Unbelievably, Nelson turns in the second best performance in the film too. Hauer made an excellent leading man, even if he didn’t have his accent totally smoothed out in this film.

I didn’t get interested in Osterman for Peckinpah though–his work, starting in the mid-1970s, gets pretty terrible (though The Osterman Weekend is better than Cross of Iron). I got interested because of the writer, Alan Sharp, who wrote Night Moves. The dialogue is adequate, the scenes are dull. Combined with the direction, it’s like watching a TV movie–one you can’t believe you’re still watching. However, nothing–not the script, not the sad attempt at action (woefully lacking the content Peckinpah infused to such success)–could survive the producers. The Osterman Weekend looks cheap. It looks cheap in the main house set, it looks cheap in the CIA headquarters (where poor Burt Lancaster embarrasses himself), and it looks really cheap in John Hurt’s CIA techno-van. The two clowns producing it went on to do Highlander and condemn the viewing public to Christopher Lambert.

A few scenes in Osterman did look familiar, like someone saw the film. In particular, the drive-in scene from Heat has an obvious precursor here, if only the location. I think there was another one, I just can’t remember. So people did keep watching Peckinpah, but it’s shocking how little he had to say by the end of his career.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Sam Peckinpah; screenplay by Alan Sharp, adaptation by Ian Masters, based on the book by Robert Ludlum; director of photography, John Coquillon; edited by Edward Abroms and David Rawlins; music by Lalo Schifrin; production designer, Robb Wilson King; produced by Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Rutger Hauer (John Tanner), John Hurt (Lawrence Fassett), Craig T. Nelson (Bernard Osterman), Dennis Hopper (Richard Tremayne), Chris Sarandon (Joseph Cardone), Meg Foster (Ali Tanner), Helen Shaver (Virginia Tremayne), Cassie Yates (Betty Cardone), Sandy McPeak (Stennings), Christopher Starr (Steve Tanner) and Burt Lancaster (Maxwell Danforth).


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