RARA-AVIS: Bad...redemptions...

From: Steve Novak (Cinefrog@comcast.net)
Date: 04 Sep 2009

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    Battles in Venice...over redemption and whisky...

    I canšt understand why WH, a personal favorite, would ever go after Ferrarašs noir masterpiece...


    Montois going for the needle...

    Directors fall out over film remake showcased at Venice festival Let's have a drink and make up, says Werner Herzog, after Abel Ferrara criticises new version of Bad Lieutenant Xan Brooks guardian.co.uk, Friday 4 September 2009 17.31 BST

    Good cop, bad cop Š Director Werner Herzog with his Bad Lieutenant stars Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

    It was shaping up to be the film festival's equivalent of a pub brawl, a bloody showdown between two notorious loose cannons of world cinema.

    Bad Lieutenant Production year: 1991 Country: USA Cert (UK): 18 Runtime: 90 mins Directors: Abel Ferrara Cast: Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo More on this film In the red corner: Abel Ferrara, the New York director of the original Bad Lieutenant. In the blue: German film-maker Werner Herzog, who had the temerity to remake it.

    Yet now, infuriatingly, it looks as though the contest may be resolved behind closed doors. Herzog took to the stage at the Venice film festival today in an apparent attempt to clear the air before Ferrara's arrival next week. At one stage he even went so far as to suggest that the pair discuss their grievances in private. "We should meet up soon over a bottle of whisky," he said.

    It remains to be seen whether whisky will cool or inflame their tempers. On learning of Herzog's decision to remake his controversial 1992 drama as a New Orleans cop thriller starring Nicolas Cage, Ferrara expressed the wish that the makers of the new version should all "die in hell".

    The Oscar-winning director of Grizzly Man and Aguirre, the Wrath of God promptly shot back, saying that he had never even heard of Ferrara, let alone sat down to watch his movie. He repeated this claim again yesterday.
    "I don't know who he is," Herzog said. "But we will meet soon. I hope that he will see my film while he is here."

    Herzog was joined on stage by Cage and Eva Mendes, who also stars in the remake, entitled Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Both seemed keen to frame the film as a new work by a great director as opposed to an overhaul of an earlier film. "I didn't even read the script," Mendes insisted. "I heard the name Werner Herzog and I said yes."

    Ferrara's film cast Harvey Keitel as a degenerate Catholic cop who finds a form of redemption after investigating an assault on a nun. By contrast, Herzog's remake jettisons the Catholicism and is lighter in tone. But according to critic Todd McCarthy, of Variety, the movie lacked the depth and resonance of the original. "The film is offbeat, silly, disarming and loopy all at the same time," he wrote.

    Herzog proudly took the credit for most of this loopiness, eagerly pointing out that the eccentric fantasy scenes featuring a pair of live iguanas were his own invention. "I always like to cast animals in my films, and iguanas are so stupid and bizarre I just love them," he said. "I don't know why I did it. But they are the best moments in the film."

    Sitting at the director's side, Cage and Mendes smiled. If they were annoyed to hear that they'd been effortlessly upstaged by a pair of lizards, they were too polite to show it.

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