“Escapes” is an eccentric portrait of a not especially eccentric — or even terribly interesting — subject: Hampton Fancher. An actor of little note, Fancher stopped performing entirely in the mid-1970s, after a career that began with a 1958 turn as a zombie in “The Brain Eaters” and led to supporting roles on a host of 1960s TV shows. He is best known as a screenwriter of “Blade Runner,” as well as one of that 1982 sci-fi classic’s producers.
With the imminent arrival of “Blade Runner 2049” — an October sequel that Fancher also co-wrote — it makes sense, one might argue, to check in on the man who adapted writer Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” But director Michael Almereyda, whose 2005 film “William Eggleston in the Real World” was a much more fascinating profile of a much more fascinating artist, just plunks his camera down in front of Fancher and lets him ramble, delivering what is, in essence, one shaggy-dog story after another about Hollywood entanglements — and, presumably, the inextricable connection between creativity and luck. (That last part is purely a guess. Fancher does not have an extensive track record as a screenwriter, and it’s never quite clear what point Almereyda is trying to make.)
Some of those entanglements are romantic, involving actresses Sue Lyon, Teri Garr and Barbara Hershey. And some are bromantic, as with “Flipper” star Brian Kelly, a friend of Fancher’s who was paralyzed after an accident on one of Fancher’s motorcycles. Many of the stories are illustrated with clips from Fancher’s filmography, most of which have little — or nothing — to do with the tales at hand. On-screen chapter titles — featuring such enigmatic phrases as “It Was Always Fun for Me” and “Somewhat Lower Than the Angels” — are unhelpful in giving shape to this baggy, saggy narrative.
Fancher may or may not be a good storyteller. How much of “Blade Runner” is his genius, and not the work of his co-writer, David Webb Peoples, who was brought on after director Ridley Scott had problems with Fancher, is unclear. But there is little evidence in “Escapes” that he — or Almereyda — is anything more than a garrulous blowhole.
Unrated. At Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Contains obscenity. 89 minutes.