Saturday, December 12, 2009

Man on Film: The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Imagine a film in which Nicolas Cage is cut free and allowed to be 110% Nicolas Cage.

Now you don't have to. It exists, and it is The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

I will freely admit that when I heard the Werner Herzog was going to team up with Nicolas Cage on this project I was not sure what to expect. It really owes nothing to Abel Ferrara's The Bad Lieutenant. There are certainly thematic similarities, as both feature corrupt, drug-addicted cops, but Herzog has never seen Ferrara's film, so anything past that is mere coincidence. Knowing the subject matter and the talent involved, you knew this was going to be mind-blowing.

If you have any doubts, here's the trailer. It will convince you.

This is unbridled Nic Cage. If you are a reader of this blog or know me at all, you know that is all I want from life.

Despite my insanely high expectations for the film, I walked out ecstatically pleased with my film-going experience. There were weird reptile motifs complete with reptile cams. It is insanely quotable with Cage rattling off brilliant lines like:
Shoot him again... His soul is still dancing.

You don't have a lucky crack pipe?

I'll kill all of you. To the break of dawn. To the break of dawn, baby!
It really seems like Herzog had the intention of making a vehicle for Cage to go balls to the wall for a full two hours because he trusted Cage's instincts, and Herzog was rewarded with perhaps his best feature film yet. Each stylistic choice is spot on. It is perfectly exploitative. It has the grit of post-Katrina New Orleans permeating every shot. The score envelops the film with a doped up swampy haze that pulls you in. And there is Nicolas Cage, who I may have devoted more space and time on this blog to than anyone else, and here he justifies that status.

Hell, any movie that ends with this line:
You know, Chavez, I still hate that I ruined my underwear for you
followed by a quasi-maniacal laugh, should be seen regardless of what else is in the film.

Judging by the trailer above, you should know if this is a movie for you. If it isn't, I feel bad for you because there is something missing from your life and it is the joy of seeing this crazy, fucked up movie.


Dr. Well Huang said...

This was, undoubtedly, the best $8.50 I have ever spent in my life. You forgot to mention the frequent use of the "lizard cam" to key us in to the unraveling madness occurring in the Cage's mind. I'd point out that there were fantastic performances all around. Eva Mendes has redeemed herself in my eyes. Val Kilmer's run for New Mexico governor ought to be embiggened by this understated turn. Vondie Curtis-Hall was exquisite. And Xhibit stole every scene he was in. I will proobably be quoting this X line til I am old and gray, "can someone please light the caucasian's crack rock."

Dr. Well Huang said...

I recommend these interviews with Mendes and Herzog.
Apparently, Werner thought the iguana cam shots were too important to be left to the cinematographer, so he shot them himself.

prashant said...

And Xhibit stole every scene he was in. I will proobably be quoting this X line til I am old and gray, "can someone please light the caucasian's crack rock."

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