Rutger Hauer

Ladyhawke (1985, Richard Donner)

Two things about Ladyhawke without getting to the script or some of the acting. First, Andrew Powell’s music. It’s godawful; it’s stunning to see a director as competent as Richard Donner put something so godawful in a film. Intentionally put it in a film. It’s silly. It sounds like a disco cover of the “Dallas” theme song at its best and it tends to get much, much worse from that low peak.

Second, Vittorio Storaro’s photography. Not all of it, but the day for night stuff is terrible. Again, it seems like Donner and Storaro should know better, especially since there’s actual fine nighttime photography in other parts. Just not when the film needs it to visually make sense.

Now for the script. The film’s about Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer. They were carefree young lovers in Northern Italy after the Crusades, even though lots of people have French names, which gets confusing. I don’t think the location really matters. The evil bishop of this castle and settlement–John Wood in a really lame performance–curses them because he’s a Catholic bishop in the Middle Ages so he’s perving after Pfeiffer. By day, she lives as hawk. By night, he lives as a wolf. Both animals mate for life, something it seems unlikely anyone would know about in the Middle Ages, but the occasionally lamer than it needs to be script feels the need to point out.

But, Hauer’s not the lead and neither is Pfeiffer. Instead, it’s Matthew Broderick. He plays a young thief who escapes Wood’s prison and finds himself basically squiring for Hauer’s knight. He meets Pfeiffer and soon learns their tragic fate. The script doesn’t give anyone enough to do–except Wood and he’s got too much to do given his performance–but there’s a lot of trying. Broderick tries, Hauer tries, Pfeiffer tries. Pfeiffer’s the most successful, not because the writing is better for her, but because the plotting isn’t as bad for her scenes. Just the day for night photography. Hauer has it the worst. Any time he starts to show personality, it’s nightfall and he disappears for a bit.

The music and photography mess up quite a bit of what otherwise seems like a good production. There’s some wonky editing from Stuart Baird, like Donner didn’t get enough coverage, which isn’t a surprise, but it’s mostly fine. It’s not great, but it’s fine.

Leo McKern is all right as the disgraced priest who has the plan to reunite the lovers. Ken Hutchison’s kind of okay as Wood’s henchman. Better than Wood anyway, even if his part’s lame.

Even without the terrible music and the problematic photography, Ladyhawke would still have that script. All it’s got going for it is likability, which Broderick, Hauer and Pfeiffer all have; Donner just doesn’t utilize it. Instead, he relies on the script, the music, the photography and Ladyhawke’s… well, it’s too lukewarm to be a disaster. It should be a disappointment, but there’s not enough wasted potential to be one.

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Donner; screenplay by Edward Khmara, Michael Thomas and Tom Mankiewicz, based on a story by Khmara; director of photography, Vittorio Storaro; edited by Stuart Baird; music by Andrew Powell; production designer, Wolf Kroeger; produced by Donner and Lauren Shuler Donner; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Matthew Broderick (Gaston), Rutger Hauer (Navarre), Michelle Pfeiffer (Isabeau), Leo McKern (Imperius), Ken Hutchison (Marquet), Alfred Molina (Cezar) and John Wood (The Bishop).


Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002, George Clooney)

As the dangerous mind in the title (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), Sam Rockwell should be entirely unsympathetic. The film spends its first act mocking Rockwell and inviting the viewer to participate. With the exception of his chemistry with Drew Barrymore’s saintly character, there’s nothing redeeming about Rockwell’s character. Yet he’s tragically endearing.

The film is based on Chuck Barris’s autobiography, where the game show host says he worked as an assassin for the CIA. Charlie Kaufman’s script–and Clooney’s direction of that script–never really raises a question about it. Even though there are real entertainment people giving interviews (it opens with Dick Clark’s recollections of Barris), Clooney approaches the spy stuff straightforward. It’s the story of a successful showbiz guy who was a spy.

The conflicts caused by that absurd contradiction are where Confessions devastates. The relationship between Rockwell and Barrymore, which is a third plot line, separate from both the spy stuff and the TV stuff, doesn’t actually give the film its humanity, it gives it its emotional veracity. Rockwell, who’s phenomenal throughout, has a lot more acting hurdles to jump in the spy stuff–the TV stuff is almost straight comedy. The romance with Barrymore is a period piece but is intricately tied to the reality of the film.

It’s great. Clooney and Rockwell do a great job. Rockwell’s breathtaking, Barrymore’s good, Clooney’s got a small part, Julia Roberts has a small part–they’re both really good.

Confessions is flashy and noisy and precise and singular.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by George Clooney; screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, based on the book by Chuck Barris; director of photography, Newton Thomas Sigel; edited by Stephen Mirrione; music by Alex Wurman; production designer, James D. Bissell; produced by Andrew Lazar; released by Miramax Films.

Starring Sam Rockwell (Chuck Barris), Drew Barrymore (Penny Pacino), George Clooney (Jim Byrd), Julia Roberts (Patricia Watson) and Rutger Hauer (Keeler).


Blind Fury (1989, Phillip Noyce)

I’ve been meaning to see Blind Fury again for twenty-one years or so. For a while, I assumed it would be pretty good (not entirely trusting my opinion at age ten) because Phillip Noyce directed it. Unfortunately, Noyce directs it with all the enthusiasm of a cologne commercial. It’s not like there’s much he could have done with the script though.

The titles crediting Charles Robert Carner as a writer are rather misleading. Blind Fury‘s script seems more like a collection of regurgitated scenes from a very special “A-Team,” or something similarly inane.

Don Burgess’s photography is particularly lifeless. No self-respecting cologne commercial would use him. And J. Peter Robinson’s peppy score–Rutger Hauer’s blind swordsman has an upbeat outlook–is constantly annoying.

There’s some decent acting from Hauer though. Occasionally. His accent is sort of solid. He never exactly betrays it, but there’s definitely something not American about him. He just might be too familiar as European. David A. Simmons’s editing did have me wondering when the stunt men took over for him, so there’s another compliment.

Meg Foster is really good, but they kill her off in her only scene. It’s kind of hilarious how poorly Carner constructs Blind Fury‘s plot. Almost all the engaging action scenes happen in the first forty minutes (including five minutes of titles).

Terry O’Quinn’s solid. It’d have been more interesting with him as a lead.

Brandon Call, as the kid Hauer protects, is really awful.

He fits right in.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Phillip Noyce; screenplay by Charles Robert Carner, based on a story by Carner and a screenplay by Kasahara Ryôzô; director of photography, Don Burgess; edited by David A. Simmons; music by J. Peter Robinson; production designer, Peter Murton; produced by Daniel Grodnik and Tim Matheson; released by TriStar Pictures.

Starring Rutger Hauer (Nick Parker), Terry O’Quinn (Frank Devereaux), Brandon Call (Billy Devereaux), Noble Willingham (MacCready), Lisa Blount (Annie Winchester), Nick Cassavetes (Lyle Pike), Rick Overton (Tector Pike), Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Slag), Charles Cooper (Cobb), Meg Foster (Lynn Devereaux) and Shô Kosugi (The Assassin).


Split Second (1992, Tony Maylam)

Rutger Hauer plays a rogue cop who needs big guns, smokes cigars, and has his Zippo lighter fixed for a three-inch flame. Amusingly, the character being some kind of poster child for overcompensation isn’t recognized, neither by Hauer or by the filmmakers. Hauer’s performance is something extraordinary. I mean, sure, the lines are awful, but Hauer’s gives an atrocious performance even when he isn’t talking. He can’t even manage to grimace convincingly.

What’s interesting about Split Second is how it got funding. It didn’t get much–it shot on location in London (future London has a raised sea level thanks to global warming, but it only comes up in the deceivingly competent opening credits and the occasional partially flooded streets), but almost everything is interiors. There’s also, with the exception of the British cast, no British flavor to the setting. Hauer isn’t supposed to be British, which begs the question of why he’s there (little of this future setting is explained–apparently, the U.S., through the U.N., runs the planet). Poor Pete Postlethwaite has a small, bad role. He’s not bad, but the character’s idiotic. Alun Armstrong’s better than the material–though his is a little less embarrassing than Postlethwaite’s–but he’s in bad stuff all the time (maybe not this bad), so he’s not as surprising to see. As Hauer’s sidekick, Alastair Duncan is only slightly better than Hauer.

Movies this bad must still be made, but I don’t think it’s with the same legitimacy. I mean, until I started watching it, I had no idea how bad Split Second was going to turn out (the hack of a writer has gone on to other things, after all). It’s a pre-direct to video movie, which does mean something. I’m just not sure whatever it means has anything to do with the possible quality of a film.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Tony Maylam; written by Gary Scott Thompson; director of photography, Clive Tickner; edited by Dan Rae; music by Francis Haines and Stephen W. Parsons; production designer, Chris Edwards; produced by Laura Gregory; released by Interstar.

Starring Rutger Hauer (Harley Stone), Kim Cattrall (Michelle), Alastair Duncan (Dick Durkin), Michael J. Pollard (The Rat Catcher), Alun Armstrong (Thrasher), Pete Postlethwaite (Paulsen), Ian Dury (Jay Jay), Roberta Eaton (Robin), Tony Steedman (O’Donnell) and Steven Hartley (Foster).


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).


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).


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).


Scroll to Top