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One thing you can always count on when you go into a Werner Herzog
movie is that you can always expect to find a story surrounding a very
bizarre individual. With Bad Lieutenant, I saw both Herzog and Nicholas
Cage in a new light, or rather a new darkness. Labeled as a black
comedy, there should be more emphasis on 'black' than on 'comedy'. The
film bears a strong resemblance to the thematically surreal and
contrived nature of a Coen Brothers film, but the difference is that
this one is more character driven than plot driven. More specifically,
this is a film that lives on one performance. Nicholas Cage for the
first time in a while has done something worthy of recognition,
possibly even award worthy.
He plays New Orleans cop Terence McDonagh, recently promoted to Lieutenant. The film follows his latest homicide investigation. Due to a back problem and a drug addiction he is grumpy and unstable. He is sort of an anti- American hero, and the film concludes on a very bizarre note but clever anti- conventional/Hollywood manner.
Though not Herzog's best, it is certainly one worth watching. With each film I see from him, past or present he continues to intrigue me, but I think in this case, it might be Nicholas Cage who deserves the most credit.
I just watched this at London Film Festival & went in expecting to hate it as I loved the original. But I have to say, the film is excellent, certainly Cage's best film & best performance since Leaving Las Vegas. Herzog has done a brilliant job & the film stands on it's own, apart from the Ferrara film. I won't spoil bits by mentioning them, but the film has several stand-out memorable scenes worth the price of admission alone. Herzog has always said that training for making films is 'life' not a stuffy film studies class etc. If you're familiar with his work or sensibilities, you'll get even more insight into how cool this guy is after watching this film. I look fwd to watching it again when it releases and getting the DVD!!
This is one of the best films of the year, but judging by the comments
here, it's also one of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood.
I loved it. To the horde of naysayers, I simply want to shout from the rooftops, "This is a film dammit, not an exercise in some mysterious media, and it's a damn good one." There. That feels better.
Nicolas Cage finds his inner demons and let's them out to play in his role as the drug addicted cop. He's more than believable as a coke snorting, crack rock smoking fiend who thinks nothing of squeezing people, good guys and bad alike. And by the way, the bizarre mannerisms...yup, that's what drugs will do for you. To my mind, he nailed it! Take one small mannerism, the way he snorts a small pinch of coke from the back of his hand, a flurry of movement, and voilà, an observer would never know. It's inventive Cage and it's priceless. And you won't find many in the real drug world as good at it.
The supporting cast is excellent, although I must admit I did forget Val Kilmer was even it at times.
The texture, the interwoven story lines, the camera work. All superb. It's a Tarrantino film with a Herzog touch. Ask yourself, how many interrogation rooms have you seen on television and in movies? Any of them have windows with traffic outside? Probably not. Good touch and the film has dozens of them.
As for the iguanas and dancing mobster. These are apparitions folks. You know, born of the effects of all those drugs on the brain. They are not symbolic. They are not misguided touches of the bizarre (well, maybe they are a bit). They are the demons of a drug soaked mind and of course they are all of of proportion. That's what demons do! Very entertaining. You want more? Read a book.
This film was not at all what I expected from Herzog - I haven't
laughed so much in a long time during a movie. What we've got here is
an over the top, crazy ride with the best Nic Cage in years. Funny
little anecdote on the side (as told by the director, Werner Herzog):
when Cage asked for advice on how to best approach his role, Herzog
told him to go with 'evil is bliss'. Cage obviously obliged - and the
result is hilarious.
This film got a lot of negativity because apparently, people expected a serious, dark drama (knowing the original, I did, too). Well, Herzog had other plans: This is a wickedly funny black comedy that borders on satire. Fantastic acting by all involved, inventive camera and just one hell of a ride. Herzog's most entertaining film to date and Cage's best performance in ages. 9 stars out of 10.
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054200841/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
Seen at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept 17, 2009.
First off it is important to note that the Bad Lieutenant name was imposed by producer Edward Pressman in the hopes of building a future franchise. As Herzog said, a better franchise would be based on his title Port of Call New Orleans. The combined title is a compromise which Werner Herzog was willing to agree to.
Herzog was fun as always at the introductory remarks and the Q&A with TIFF programmer Colin Geddes. Telling anecdotes such as Cage asking him on the 2nd day of shooting what is his motivation and Herzog telling him not to worry about that, just go with "Evil is bliss" and sometimes "let the pig out!" (from the Bavarian colloquialism "Die Sau rauslassen!" / "Las die Sau raus!").
I'll confess that I had my doubts about this one simply based on the BLt title alone, imagining that this was going to be some sort of embarrassing sequel that has been imposed on Herzog for some bizarre contractual obligation reason. Have no fear about that! This is a Herzog movie and a Nicolas Cage on-a-rampage movie with all that those both imply. Even if certain clichés of the genre are adhered to (the prostitute girlfriend, the father who is an ex-cop now "drinking himself to death", etc.) these end up having totally different plot resolutions than you'd expect. Cage's second scene confronting the matron lady and her hairdresser alone is worth the price of admission. I know they don't give Oscars for roles like this (actually, maybe for Denzel they did) but this is the best Nicholas Cage I've seen in years.
Comment at the Q&A "I have seen 20 movies at this festival, and this is the most entertaining of all of them!" I couldn't agree more (and BLt:PoCNO was my 22nd). BLt:PoCNO rocks and Herzog rules! Seen at the Elgin Theatre/VISA Screening Room, the 2nd screening of 3 at TIFF 2009.
This movie is filled with humor and turns, it's jazzy and entertaining but not that similar to Abel Ferrara's 1992 story, in spite of the title. It features a wonderful and very much involved performance from Nicholas Cage, a lot of very black humor and gets to develop a strong pessimism. The story is appropriately set in New Orleans (during the Hurricane Katrina's aftermath) and mainly shows what occurs to good people when bad people prosper. Nicholas Cage aside, Val Kilmer doesn't probably manages to do much, but Mendes and Dourif deliver convincing performances. Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant" was a dirty depiction of a strongly damaged detective (played by Harvey Keitel), where, leaving from the illusions of a drug-induced cop, ended up involving a lot of Catholic guilt. Here there's more action and humor than that stuff, not that the movie is shallow but probably it's just a bit more unpretentious.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't really know what people see in this film, all I find is a
script desperate for direction. The movie is purportedly about a New
Orleans cop (Nicolas Cage) attempting to solve the murder of an illegal
immigrant family in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Cage also happens
to be addicted to drugs (cocaine, heroin, and marijuana), is a
compulsive gambler, a rapist, a thief, and a liar. Each of these traits
is highlighted in a separate storyline that has nothing to do with the
original plot of the film. In fact the stories become so numerous that
the plot itself is all but lost amongst them.
There is no one to root for in this film, everyone is a scumbag. In that way it reminded me of Monster's Ball, but the characters weren't quite as unlikeable, but they were unlikeable enough to make me wonder why I was even watching the film. Cage is over the top and basically unbelievable as a character. To make things worse on a few occasions, in order to create a sense of the drug addled world Cage lives in, the director gives us close up shots of reptiles that are so jarring ( full lens flare and distortion, perspective imbalance, grainy footage) and out of place that it took me right out of the movie and into a college film class. I know I'm watching a movie, don't remind me.
The movie is also goofy in other respects as well. In one of the final scenes everything comes together for Cage, he wins his football bet for the week, his record gets cleared up, the crooks get captured, the legbreakers get off his back, and it all happens in the span of about 30 seconds. I was reminded of the scene in Men in Black when Tommy Lee Jones uses his memory messer-upper to make all of Will Smith's coworkers compliment him on his great work. I couldn't take the movie seriously, and perhaps it didn't want me to, but it didn't do a very good job of letting me enjoy it.
One of Nicolas Cage's best performances. Extremely impressive. Didn't know this movie existed until it showed up on Encore and was it ever worth watching. Herzog and Cage give us a character that I both identified with and hated. The script is brilliant and has no correlation with the earlier movie which starred Harvey Keitel. It is an original which stands on its own. The plot is complex. Cage's character, Sargant Terence McDonagh, is established immediately as capable of heroic acts and is promoted to lieutenant. We learn that McDonagh is not all good guy in stages. First we learn about the drug addictions and later about the gambling addiction. This is one of those movies which will be recognized for its true brilliance about 30 years from now, like Scarface is now.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was a craptastic " B " movie that should not have been made for public consumption.. There was just so much wrong with this movie its not worth speaking on all of them. Here again you got people that want to tell you how to view this movie for "what it is ".. If you cant see this movie for what it is your loony.. A bad movie by any other name is still a bad movie.. Please people stop saying the director was trying to do this and was trying to do that.. He was trying to make a good film and failed.. Bottom line.. When you get a movie with a gator cam and a breaking dancing dead guy something is not right here.. My biggest concern.. Is the Lack of accents in a movie that was filmed in N.O. if anyone knows anything about this city you know,, its heavy in accent.. there is not one person with one in this movie.. They all seem to be from New York,, it really upset me to think that we as a people are so dumb not to notice the basic speech of the people from this region,,, nonsense.. It sets you up to see a bad movie and it delivered...
Many will look at this and will think that it is an action thriller
about a cop trying to solve the murders of 5 people in New Orleans and
that is a basic idea of what the film is about. 'Trying' is right word
to use; Nicolas Cage's characters is deeply flawed and is taking drugs
to ease his back pain, which he got for saving a prisoner in a flooded
prison. He has no interest in bringing the people responsible to
It is difficult to describe what happens in the film because it is so different from other films that I have seen. If you have seen Werner Herzog's other films then you will like this maybe not as much as some of his other films but there is a lot to like. Nicolas Cage gives a fantastic performance and is clearly back on form after the likes of Next, National Treasure and The Wicker Man. The rest of the cast also do a good job but the focus is on Cage. The chosen location of New Orleans suits the film well and the cinematographer does a good job showing it. The script writer must also be credited for providing the film with interesting pieces of dialogue even though its difficult to tell what was improvised and what was not.
This film is not for everyone though since the trailer shows it as a more of an crime thriller than a drama. If you are not a fan of art house films or films that have an offbeat sense of humor then you might not enjoy it as much as those who do. Those who watch this film and liked it will be able to find plenty of things about the film that represent something else. There is clearly more to this film than what is happening on the surface.
If you do choose to watch this film then go in with an open mind as there is a lot to like but I can't guarantee that it will be for everyone.
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