Friday, May 14, 2010

Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans by Werner Herzog

Since the 1970s Werner Herzog has been one of the jewels of world cinema. With classics such as Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Stroszek and the remake of F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu. Herzog has blessed audiences around the world with unforgettable cinematic experiences for decades. His Psycho-Realist style is fairly unique to him, though other filmmakers have made films within Herzog's style it seems that he has stuck to it as if it were a genre and not just a style within the broader scope of cinema. In 2005, Werner Herzog expanded his horizon's making his first, truly, American film--while I concede that Stroszek is close, it is much more of a German film--the documentary Grizzly Man, since then his last four features two documentaries and two narrative's have all been truly American films.

On the flip side of this film is the outstanding Nicolas Cage. Throughout his career, Cage has made some very (very x's you choose) bad decisions. However, when Cage is at his best is when everything around him is going wrong. In his classic roles from Moonstruck, Leaving Los Vegas, Bringing Out the DeadAdaptation and The Weather Man Cage sneaks his way through a life that could be better, though for some reason he can't make it so. In Herzog's newest film. Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans Nicolas Cage is allowed to be just that. He is a lieutenant in the New Orleans police department in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Katrina. He and his partners have gotten used to the "cowboy" style that was afforded to them by the near martial law status of the city during the days after the devastation. And, a back injury causes him to get into worse habits than he had already had.

Equipped with every non-alcoholic vice that I have ever heard of, Cage sleazes his way through the seedy underworld of New Orleans. As the film unfolds we are allowed to see the this man and everyone around him both at their best and worst. We are able to see corruption and redemption over and over again. In many way Herzog's film plays like a comedy of errors as we are left in disbelief with what we see, and the consequences for the actions taken. The Psycho-realism and Cage's man-on-the-edge persona are a match made in cinematic heaven.

This is a film of vice and should be watched as such. That being said, it is also a vastly entertaining crime film that will keep you guessing and shaking your head from start to finish.


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