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  • This documentary on the life and career of actor and screenwriter Hampton Fancher, directed by Michael Almereyda, is definitely not your standard doc. Early on it seemed so disjointed and weird that I wondered is this going to get any better? Fortunately, it did, at least in my opinion, but I believe it won't appeal to everyone.

    Fancher, who is now 80-years-old and living in Brooklyn Heights, is best known for his co-writing the screenplay for one of the classic sci-fi movies of all time, the groundbreaking Blade Runner (1982). He also co-wrote the 2017 remake Blade Runner 2049, as well as writing The Mighty Quinn (1989) and co-writing and directing The Minus Man (1999).

    Fancher's adolescence and young adulthood was so amazing and wild that I could only shake my head in disbelief at it. Most of the movie has Fancher recounting his life in his own words, and it is quite the life, to which I'll leave most of the details to the viewer.

    Finally, in the last twenty minutes or so, Fancher recounts the backstory of his role in bringing Blade Runner to the screen, and it is quite the tale. Overall, viewers here are going to have to adjust to a different way of telling a life story, and, as I see it, the film got increasing coherent as it progressed, was filled with surprises, and I ended up rather engaged in it.

    To note: there were no subtitles on my DVD copy, obtained at my local library, and there is explicit language throughout.
  • Hampton Fancher was, after a first-act career as a Flamenco dancer, a supporting-cast actor in dozens of TV shows like Mannix and Bonanza in the 1960s, frequently playing a kind of graceful punk or handsome misfit. By his own admission, he didn't take acting too seriously, but he frankly seemed pretty lively and unpretentious for the era's TV-acting style. He had repressed dreams of being a screenwriter, and brought them to unexpected fruition when Ridley Scott took up his adaptation of Philip K. Dick's *Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?*, which became *Blade Runner* in 1982. This minimalist documentary (the only person interviewed in Fancher) was directed by Michael Almereyda (who also directed the Ethan Hawke starring Hamlet and Tesla films, both, like this film, also mischievous and magical). Fancher is a broadly appealing, often funny guy, as he has lots of humility and self-understanding despite some fairly serious cracks in his personality (some seem to have been healed over the years). He also has an unaffected youthfulness, despite being in his 80s; actually, it is nuts how youthful he seems, in body and spirit. Because Fancher acted in so many different genres of films and TV shows, Almareyda uses, as if from a library designed for the purpose, footage from Fancher's career as surreal illustrations of a wild assortment of situations from his own life as Fancher improvisationally verbalizes them. The crisp, verge-of-satire film-making style almost dates from the 1920s in its mix of dialogue-free illustrative footage and simple cards with bits of narrative on them, which usually add new information to the whole. (I know of most of the people Fancher mentions, his co-stars, partners like Sue Lyon, Terri Garr, and Barbara Hershey (?!) --if one has limited knowledge of 60s pop culture and of the Dick novel, this may be harder to follow?). A tale of persistence, tragedy, and almost infinite good humor; the film itself should be studied for how to make a dynamic, effervescent film-narrative out of materials that could have been static or flat.