Abel Ferrara is the director behind the excellent KING OF NEW YORK
(1990) and BAD LIEUTENANT (1992). He's often wound up folks in
Hollywood, refusing to fit into the respectable facade that directors
are supposed to project. In NOT GUILTY (taken from a French TV
documentary series) we see Ferrara in all of a glory, a hulking guy
with messed up teeth and a bottle and cigarette always in his hands. He
carries something of the charm of Bukowski... a lumbering, likable and
talented rogue who pulls other people along with him.
But Ferrara hasn't made a truly notable feature film since the superb
THE FUNERAL in 1996, and has often ended up making shitty sleaze, music
videos, documentaries and short films. He's been attached to various
projects that he's pulled out of - like GAME OF DEATH - and failed to
get funding for grand visions like JECKYLL AND HYDE because - as he
says - he "refuses to kiss the feet of Hollywood" Ever since he burst
onto the scene with his low-grade horror DRILLER KILLER, Ferrara has
been considered eccentric and untameable. NOT GUILTY captures this side
of Ferrara very well. He talks - often very interestingly - to anyway
who takes his fancy. He describes a chase scene to a guy in a music
shop (who says - after Ferrara leaves - that the first time he came
into the shop he had to throw him out), flirts outrageously with some
gals in the street, directs a music video, and gives some wisdom on New
York life as he cruises around with his buddies. And all this is in
what is essentially a 24 hour snapshot of Ferrara's life.
The snapshot nature of the film is a positive in some ways. In fact,
you can almost see Ferrara slowly sober up (then get drunk again) and
it captures Ferrara's hectic, fun but often shambolic life. The
bullshit he spouts to girls is frequently hilarious and - somehow - he
almost seems to be winning them over....
But the character of Ferrara is so wacky that you'd prefer to see more.
A proper documentary following him for a longer period of time, ideally
taking in how he behaves on a full film set. It's little wonder Harvey
Keitel's version of the "Bad Lieutenant" is so loopy with Ferrara at
the helm, probably stripped naked and making aeroplane noises to show
Keitel exactly what he wants.
NOT GUILTY is a fun watch. It's one that will play much better for fans
of Ferrara's (good) movies, but should also appeal to fans of lovable
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