Kyle MacLachlan

The Hidden (1987, Jack Sholder)

The Hidden opens with a shock. Then there’s another shock, then another, then another. The first act of the film races through them. Chris Mulkey is on a killing spree, the cops are in pursuit–including Michael Nouri’s soulful supercop–only it turns out Mulkey can’t be killed. Enter oddball FBI agent Kyle MacLachlan, who teams with Nouri, and investigates Mulkey’s “accomplice,” William Boyett. Because now Boyett’s on a killing spree. Only we know something Nouri doesn’t.

An alien bug crawls into a dead body’s mouth and reanimates them. Then it goes on a killing, looting, and general obnoxious spree.

The alien jumps around a bit, first into new supporting cast members, later into established ones. Some actors have a great time with it–Mulkey, Boyett, the third act surprises; others don’t. Claudia Christian is fine, but she doesn’t get much to do in Jim Kouf’s pseudonymous script except fondle herself. Oh, and she gets to shoot machine guns. Those scenes, which might be fun if The Hidden let itself be trashy, fall flat (except as technical exercises). Sholder’s good at setup, not pay-off.

His lack of interest comes in waves. At the open, Sholder’s super on. He’s got his cranes–Sholder loves his crane shots–he’s got good photography from Jacques Haitkin and good editing from Michael N. Knue and Maureen O’Connell. Sometimes the editing is a little too obviously cut against the eclectic rock soundtrack selections, but it’s still good editing. Except The Hidden isn’t just this string of pursuit sequences, it changes and Sholder can’t handle those changes.

The film runs ninety-six minutes. The first hour is pretty much contiguous, with the minor pauses or breaks either not getting in the way of the building momentum or contributing to it. Everything works. Script, direction, acting. Once the film breaks the narrative, jumping ahead until the next morning, entropy sets in. There’s a lot of action, not enough time for exposition, no time for character development.

And The Hidden almost makes it. If any one thing had been better about the finale–well, Sholder’s direction, Kouf’s writing, or Michael Convertino’s music–it would’ve been fine. Instead, everything works against it. Sholder leverages a lot on Convertino’s score but it’s a bad score. It starts a mediocre score, then–like everything else in Hidden–gets worse as the film progresses. So it’s real bad in the finish.

Neat “alien-in-man-suit” performance from Kyle MacLachlan. It’s a shame no one thought about how MacLachlan’s character development should react to external events or why children think he’s weird. Nouri’s affable and reasonably successful. The role doesn’t ask for much, even when it pretends a greater import. The Hidden has a couple buddy cop movie moments; Nouri and MacLachlan do them well. The more soulful Nouri stuff–the handwringing, impassioned pleas–doesn’t work. Especially not since they frequently take place in the awkwardly homy squad room set.

Clarence Felder is good. Richard Brooks is good. Ed O’Ross is fine. Clu Gulager has nothing to do, but it’s still nice to see him.

Most of The Hidden is good. The builds up this phenomenal momentum, which should be able to sail through anything. Turns out its no match for the third act icebergs.



Directed by Jack Sholder; written by Jim Kouf; director of photography, Jacques Haitkin; edited by Maureen O’Connell and Michael N. Knue; music by Michael Convertino; production designers, C.J. Strawn and Mick Strawn; produced by Robert Shaye, Gerald T. Olson, and Michael L. Meltzer; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Michael Nouri (Tom Beck), Kyle MacLachlan (Lloyd Gallagher), Chris Mulkey (Jack DeVries), William Boyett (Jonathan Miller), Claudia Christian (Brenda), Katherine Cannon (Barbara Beck), Clarence Felder (Lt. Masterson), Clu Gulager (Lt. Flynn), Ed O’Ross (Willis), Richard Brooks (Sanchez), and John McCann (Senator Holt).

One Night Stand (1997, Mike Figgis)

One Night Stand is such an emotionally exhausting film, one of the few moments of relief comes when Wesley Snipes, Ming-Na (as his wife), Nastassja Kinski (she and Snipes had a one night affair) and Kyle MacLachlan (as Kinski’s husband) go out to dinner together. It’s awkward in a far more comfortable way than the rest of the film, which takes its time getting there, but eventually reveals itself to be about the unraveling of Snipes.

Now, Wesley Snipes is often laughably terrible, which makes his performance here a shock. It’s one of the finer male lead performances. Figgis’s film feels like a novel, as it deals with Snipes’s heterosexuality, his marriage, his self-loathing over his homophobia and his career. Everything centers around Robert Downey Jr. as his best friend (the film opens with Snipes introducing the story, talking to the camera). Downey’s a gay guy dying of AIDS and it all sort of swirls around the life Snipes left in New York to sell out and go to LA. Of course, those events happened before the present action… which is not to discount the importance of the dalliance with Kinski and so on….

It’s all connected, but Downey and Snipes’s partnership is the focal point.

Downey’s great, though he sort of has the easiest role, something he mentions in dialogue. Ming-Na’s good, MacLachlan’s fantastic. Great small turn from Thomas Haden Church.

Figgis (who also scores) does an amazing job directing. It’s an astounding piece of work.



Written and directed by Mike Figgis; director of photography, Declan Quinn; edited by John Smith; music by Figgis; Waldemar Kalinowski; produced by Figgis, Ben Myron and Annie Stewart; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Wesley Snipes (Max), Nastassja Kinski (Karen), Kyle MacLachlan (Vernon), Ming-Na (Mimi), Robert Downey Jr. (Charlie), Glenn Plummer (George), Amanda Donohoe (Margaux), Zoë Nathenson (Mickey) and Thomas Haden Church (Don).

Justice League: The New Frontier (2008, Dave Bullock)

In terms of ambitiousness, Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier is in many ways as ambitious as a superhero comic book can get. Cooke tied DC Comics superheroes to the American political landscape of the 1950s and, while he didn’t have an absolute success, he did just fine, never losing the zeal (occasionally letting it go too far even). Now, as Warner Bros. has finally sunk low enough to do direct to video movies–some of these being animated superhero projects–a bunch of unambitious cartoon guys (and I say cartoon guys as a pejorative–I mean, the animation in The New Frontier is barely on the level of the “G.I. Joe” cartoons I saw as a kid) decided to adapt it. In doing so, shaving Cooke’s 400 plus page comic book down to seventy-five minutes, they haven’t just missed the point, they’ve also turned Cooke’s ambitious work into a low-rent Independence Day rip-off with superheroes. Maybe that element was always a little part of Cooke’s comic, but with the movie, it’s the most important part.

The problem with The New Frontier–and with the idea of it in the first place–is the medium. It doesn’t lend itself to a cartoon and the cartoon guys do nothing to make it excite the medium’s possibilities (like I said, it’s less ambitious than a “G.I. Joe” cartoon, so comparing it to Sleeping Beauty would just be silly). It’s only a cartoon because… well… it’s a toy commercial. There are New Frontier action figures and all of this hoopla is a toy commercial.

Oddly, it’s pretty watchable. Throughout three-quarters, it’s almost good. There’s a speed to it in the good parts and a car wreck quality in the bad parts. It’s offensive, for example, when they use the JFK speech at the end (the title comes from the speech). Cooke’s comic book was ambitious enough, even with a bad ending, it had the bedrock to print the speech. As the movie is an unambitious, trite flop, it’s stunningly inappropriate.

Of the voice actors, only Jeremy Sisto is actually good. Neil Patrick Harris and Miguel Ferrer come close. David Boreanaz is particularly awful. Lucy Lawless is a bad Wonder Woman and Kyle MacLachlan an ineffective Superman, but a lot of those problems have to do with Stan Berkowitz’s execrable script. And Keith David as the movie’s bad guy, a giant monster–a misfire going back to the comic book–is terrible too, but the whole thing is dreadfully handled, but in terms of visualization, dialogue and filmic conception. Berkowitz’s dialogue’s dumb and bad; Kevin Manthei’s music not fit for an elevator to Hell. Besides some of the female characters, all the artwork is bad (for whatever reason, only the female characters retain any of Cooke’s style).

I can’t stand cartoon storytelling–that lowest common denominator storytelling for the kid who can’t even read the TV Guide to see what’s on, but can still tell his mom he needs the action figures–so I can’t blame watching The New Frontier on anyone but myself (the short running time and, possibly, the knowledge I’d be writing about bad it turned out… didn’t expect how offensive the JFK use would come off though). I also didn’t expect to run out of synonyms for bad, but I did.

The funniest part comes at the end. Cooke, in the comic book, ripped the volunteers moment from Pearl Harbor and did it with superheroes in a sequence of still images and got the same effect. For some reason, with motion and audio, the clowns behind The New Frontier can’t get it right.



Directed by Dave Bullock; screenplay by Stan Berkowitz and Darwyn Cooke, based on the comic book by Cooke; edited by Elen Orson; music by Kevin Manthei; produced by Berkowitz, Cooke and Bruce W. Timm; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring David Boreanaz (Hal Jordan/Green Lantern), Miguel Ferrer (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter), Neil Patrick Harris (Barry Allen/The Flash), John Heard (Ace Morgan), Lucy Lawless (Wonder Woman), Kyle MacLachlan (Superman), Phil Morris (King Faraday), Kyra Sedgwick (Lois Lane), Brooke Shields (Carol Ferris), Jeremy Sisto (Batman) and Keith David (The Center).

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