What better way to start my stint on a sight with no readers than by reviewing a movie no one saw?
Bad Lieutenant is a 1992 NC-17 independent film starring Harvey Keitel. The entire 96 minute experience is summed up pretty tidily in the title, to the point that there’s no real reason to actually watch the film. This works out rather well, because actually taking the time to submit yourself to Bad Lieutenant is possibly the single most debilitating way to spend an hour and a half without actually getting up from your couch. The dude bombs around NYC, does drugs, threatens people, gambles recklessly, and harasses women. Unless you’re dead-set on gaining prolonged exposure to Harvey Keitel’s penis, that last sentence saved you one wasted movie night.
But then, a twist! Despite having no redeeming cinematic qualities, someone thought Bad Lieutenant was ripe material for remaking. That someone then convinced batshit-insane German filmmaker Werner Herzog to direct the undertaking, and the result is 2009’s The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans. Anyone who knows Herzog’s work (you may recognize two of his latest efforts, Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn) knows that the man is obsessed with nature (and mankind’s struggles against it). I am one such person, and when I heard that Herzog’s next project would be an urban crime drama, I instantly predicted it would either be a colossal failure or a whacked-out masterstroke.
Well, I recently sat down with Bad LT: PoC – NO, and I have this to report:
Hole E. Shit.
The movie follows basically the same path as the original; the title character (played here by Nicholas Cage, more on him later,) bumbles about town slinking from depraved low to depraved low. But where in the original this journey was a grueling, slow, miserable trudge, here it is a manic joyride. I can’t quite articulate why, but watching Nicholas Cage perform reprehensible act after reprehensible act is infectious. I know, in my head, that I shouldn’t delight in what he does, but I can’t help it. It’s awesome. For example, there is a rape scene (Nick Cage is the rapist), and it’s the least offensive rape scene I’ve ever seen. In fact, you almost cheer for the dude. The movie is full of moments like that, and the bizarre absurdity is fantastic cinema.
Now, let’s discuss Nick Cage. In my opinion, there’s always been two Nick Cage’s. One, Action Hero Nick, stars in big budget movies with lots of explosions. This is all well and good, except that Nick Cage is a terrible action star. Some actors excel in action films, but Nick isn’t one of them. He just can’t pull it off. Cage is better when he’s playing Quirky Weirdo Nick. This Nick (star of films like Raising Arizona, Adaptation, and Matchstick Men) is neurotic, strange, and actually interesting to watch on screen. I love this Nick, and was glad to see him here. Bad Lt: PoC – NO is pretty much perfect Cage material.
This is a special movie. It’s rare that we get to see something so zany, absurd, and whimsical stuffed with so much talent (Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, and rapper Xzibit costar). Check it out.