The Osterman Weekend 1989 ****


It must be something of a surprise to those who knew the late actor Rutger Hauer to read obituaries like this ( which show almost no knowledge of the man or his films. Hauer came to prominence as a cinema actor of phenomenal power, working on a series of collaborations with Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven such as Turkish Delight and Soldier of Orange, both of which are covered elsewhere in this blog. His celebrated turn in The Legend of the Holy Drinker is probably his most mature work, but the stardom that he gained from villianous turns opposite Sylvester Stallone in Nighthawks or in The Hitcher made him a bankable enough name to get him a role in Sam Peckinpah’s final film The Osterman Weekend. Adapted from Robert  “Bourne Identity” Ludlum’s book, it’s a Big Brother-type story of various espionage agents holed up in a remote house where micro-surveillance systems have been employed. Hauer plays tv journalist John Tanner, who is being manipulated at arms length by CIA chief Maxwell Danforth. It’s one of Hauer’s most substantial roles, with an ahead-of-its-time conceit and great support from John Hurt, Dennis Hopper and Craig T Nelson. The script is a little muddled, with writer Alan Sharp amongst those fighting Peckinpah’s famed desire for self-sabotage. That none of the above films get even a single mention in the above obituary suggests that Peckinpah’s pessimism was justified ; The Osterman Weekend nails the idea of media manipulation, and its concerns are still relevant today.



Jesus’ Son 1999 ****


Hallucinogenic drug odysseys tend to make for awful, self-indulgent films, but Alison Mclean’s film of Dennis Johnson’s book is one of the few that maintain narrative control; Billy Crudup stars at FH, whose passion for narcotics leads him on a picaresque journey in the early seventies. Michael Shannon, Dennis Hopper, Holly Hunter, Will Patton and Samantha Morton are amongst the characters FH meets, with the honours stolen by Jack Black as a hospital attendant whose too keen of the temptations of the medicine cabinet.  Mclean seems to have been toiling in television since making this film, but it’s a striking, original, frequently beautiful and genuinely mature film about growing up that entertains for every moment of its running time.