Tag Archives: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Throwback Thursday: Rutger Hauer in the 1980’s

If you’re acquainted with this blog at all, then you’re already aware of the sheer reverence I have for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982).  So I won’t belabor that subject yet again in order to note Rutger Hauer’s passing this past Friday.

Hauer was a prolific actor, and his fans can remember him fondly from any number of roles.  Below are the trailers for my three favorites.

The first is 1986’s “The Hitcher,” which might have been the first modern, adult horror film that I truly loved.  (This is leaving aside Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 “The Birds” and various monster movies aimed at kids.)  I’m a little concerned that the trailer below misrepresents the movie, though.  “The Hitcher” aspired to be a serious film, and was truly a great horror-thriller, in my opinion.  It was moody, atmospheric, thoughtful and methodically paced (although it didn’t lack blood and violence either).  It was far better than the 80’s action-horror boilerplate movie that the trailer seems to depict.

Hauer was terrifying.  (If you are wondering, that is indeed C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh costarring.  And if you watch the trailer very closely, you can see Jeffrey DeMunn — who contemporary audiences will recognize as Dale from “The Walking Dead.”)

The second is movie is 1985’s “Ladyhawke,” which saw Hauer co-star with none other than Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer.  It had far more mainstream appeal, and it reliably kicks up nostalgia every time it’s mentioned on social media.  (Seriously, go try it.)

The third is one that far fewer people will remember –1989’s “Blind Fury,” which rode the tail end of the decade’s martial arts craze.  It was zany stuff, and it didn’t hold back on the 80’s-era cheese, but it had a lot of heart and was surprisingly earnest.  Some of the action sequences were damned impressive too.  (And if you were a nut for 80’s ninja movies, you’ll of course recognize Sho Kosugi as the acrobatic villain here.)

 

 

 

 

I hated “The Hateful Eight” (2015)

“The Hateful Eight” (2015) might be the first Quentin Tarantino film that I entirely disliked.  I’d rate it a 3 out of 10 for being an overlong, overwrought story inhabited almost exclusively by irritating, overly stylized characters who are constantly shouting.  It was alternately boring and grotesque.  It even managed to occasionally be glumly depressing, given the violence it depicts against defenseless innocents.

And I’m surprised, because this movie was highly recommended to me by my college-aged nephew — he’s a smart kid whose judgment I trust.  I certainly hope that he has seen Tarantino’s classic “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), as that movie seems to be this one’s direct inspiration.  Throughout “The Hateful Eight’s” lengthy running time (it clocks in at just over three hours), I kept thinking that this was a failed effort to transplant “Reservoir Dogs'” story setup to the old west.

That probably was the director’s strategy here.  You see an attempt to recreate all of the story elements that made the earlier movie a success: quirky characters; idiosyncratic dialogue; unexpected violence; tragedy; and black humor.

Regrettably, it just didn’t work.  The movie was so long — and so loud — that it even made priceless performers like Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth come off as annoying.

For me, the movie’s sole bright spot was Jennifer Jason Leigh’s damned terrific portrayal of the plot-driving, brutal gangster, Daisy Domergue.  I had no idea that Leigh had such incredible range (not to mention some Vaudeville-style comic timing).  Her performance isn’t enough to redeem the movie, but it surprised me and easily stole the show.

Look — if this is the first Tarantino movie you’ve seen, then please don’t let it dissuade you from seeing the man’s other work.  Seriously, go watch “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction” (1994) or “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996).

 

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