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.



OSS 117: Nest of Spies 2006 and OSS 117: Lost in Rio 2009 ***


Long before their Oscar-winning triumph with silent pastiche The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius and his star Jean Dujardin did a similarly excellent job on spy movies with their OSS 117 films. The European version of Austin Powers, the OSS 117 comedies take their title from Dujardin’s secret agent, tangling with Nazis while wrestling with gadgets and sporting the same kind of 60’s cool that featured in James Bond films, and also the tatty glamour of the Matt Helm franchise with Dean Martin. The OSS 117 films capture the casual sexism and racism of older films with an admirably straight face, but there’s also a clear affection for the genre. Dujardin is a charming leading man, and these films show exactly why his Hollywood career is on the up.