From the NYT today...
There is also audio:
And an interview of Herzog:
My admiration to the original 92 film was total...and I send this to Rara in
light of some more recent debates around noir.
Iıll be curious to hear comments of those who go to see it...
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Lena Herzog/First Look Pictures
Nicolas Cage plays the title character, and Eva Mendes is his girlfriend, in
³Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.² A New Orleans Mystery: A Cop So Bad, Heıs Good
By A. O. SCOTT
Published: November 20, 2009
³Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans² what an ungainly title for a
movie. What does it mean? What kind of sense does it make? You might ask the
same questions of the film itself, directed by Werner Herzog and related, by
some equally puzzling movie-business genealogy, to another ³Bad Lieutenant,²
Abel Ferraraıs 1992 tour of New York law-enforcement hell. Neither remake
nor sequel, this ³Bad Lieutenant² is its own special fever-swamp of a movie,
an anarchist film noir that seems, at times, almost as unhinged as its
Fueled by Nicolas Cageıs performance which requires adjectives as yet
uncoined, typed with both the caps-lock key and the italics button engaged
Mr. Herzogıs film is a pulpy, glorious mess. Its maniacal unpredictability
is such a blast that it reminds you just how tidy and dull most crime
thrillers are these days.
The genre, once a repository of weirdness, wild emotion and sly cinematic
invention, has recently devolved into a state of glum, routine sadism. The
stories lurch toward phony and mechanical surprise endings, and the heroes
tend to be glowering ciphers of righteous vengeance, exacting payback and
muttering second-hand tough-guy catchphrases.
Not Terence McDonagh, Mr. Cageıs New Orleans cop, who clings to an insane
sense of professionalism even as his demons drive him around every bend in
the Mississippi River. (Am I talking about the actor or the character? It
may be a tribute to Mr. Cageıs genius that Iım not quite certain.) Over the
years Mr. Cage has done his action-hero duty, from ³Con Air² to the
³National Treasure² movies, and he has often been more interesting than a lot of his peers, holding on to some of the idiosyncrasy that makes him worth watching even at his least inspired. Here, though, he is a jittery whirlwind of inventiveness, throwing his body and voice in every direction and keeping McDonagh, the movie and the audience in a delirious state of imbalance.
Sometimes his loose-limbed shuffle and sibilant drawl suggest Jimmy Stewart
as a crackhead. (Is there any other movie actor who can summon such a phrase
to mind?) At other moments he breaks out in hip-hop non sequiturs, crowing:
³To the break of dawn! To the break of dawn!²
He hallucinates iguanas, takes care of a dog and whispers sweet nothings to
his call-girl girlfriend (Eva Mendes). He gambles. He steals. He shakes down
college boys and gropes their dates. (Now Iım talking about the character,
not the actor.)
And if I may indulge a hip-hop non sequitur of my own itıs all good.
What may seem like random, dissociated bursts of energy are in fact the
brilliant syncopations of a player with a sure, if unorthodox, sense of
Iım still referring to Mr. Cage, but also to Mr. Herzog, who sets William
Finkelsteinıs properly pulpy screenplay to his own strange music. (Thatıs a
metaphor. The actual musical score, by Mark Isham, is serviceably
McDonaghıs ordeal begins during Hurricane Katrina, when he injures his back
committing a reckless act of decency in the line of duty, freeing a prisoner
from lockdown as the waters rise. For his pains McDonagh acquires a
promotion and a drug habit, which combines with his gambling addiction and
his fondness for the company of Frankie (Ms. Mendes) to make him a ripe
target for an internal-affairs investigation.
That happens, sort of, as does a murder investigation and a whole lot of
other stuff, including McDonaghıs entanglement with a drug dealer
evocatively named Big Fate (the rapper Xzibit). On the run and at loose ends
McDonagh drops in on his dad and stepmom, who seem to be wandering around
the set of a Tennessee Williams play without a script.
Who needs one? ³Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans² why ³Port of
Call²? what does that mean? is no masterpiece, but it is undoubtedly the
work of a master. For nearly 40 years Mr. Herzog has pursued madness and
unreason in various manifestations he found them, most reliably, in the
person of Klaus Kinski and sometimes succumbed to their allure. Lately he
has mellowed somewhat, examining driven, obsessive souls through a
ruminative documentary lens and analyzing their passions with wry,
Terry McDonagh which may be to say Mr. Cage as well enters a realm where
craziness and craft become one, but Mr. Herzog does not follow him all the
way. There is discipline in ³Bad Lieutenant,² and a principled respect,
similar to that shown in Mr. Herzogıs war movie ³Rescue Dawn,² for the
pleasures and requirements of genre.
The atmosphere is redolent with corruption and need, and nutty as the movie
sometimes is, its brutality and confusion are never played for laughs. It
has a warped sincerity, and an energy that keeps going and going. To the
break of dawn!
³Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans² is rated R. It has swearing, drug
use, sexual situations and violence that is, all things considered, fairly
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