September 17, 2009
Reviews of Herzog's Bad Lieutenant
So I was wrong to make "don't call it a remake" jokes about Werner Herzog's non-remake of Bad Lieutenant, because the critics who are seeing it at the Toronto Film Festival say it really isn't any kind of remake at all. Karina from Spout says "Werner Herzog’s emphatic declarations that he’s never seen Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant finally seem credible", and the story has nothing in common with the very earnest original, except that it's about a lieutenant becoming unhinged, taking drugs, and doing a terrible job at being a cop.
Other than that, it's a totally new movie, and it sounds fantastic. Herzog doing crime-action! It's set in seamy post-Katrina New Orleans, and sounds like a deliriously chaotic freakout of crime/drugs/hookers and urban rot. It looks like one of those increasingly rare movies where Nicolas Cage is incredibly great, which seems to happen only ever 5-8 years, in less than 10% of the movies he stars in. Like Valley Girl, Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas, Wild at Heart (sort of), and Adaptation (sort of.)
Manohla Dargis loved it. She goes so far as to say that Nicolas Cage is as well-suited to Herzog as his old muse Klaus Kinski: "Mr. Herzog has again found a performer as committed to representing unspeakable human will." Spout says he's the perfect Herzog star because he's "an actor for whom hysteria is autopilot," which makes me think of those great scenes from Bringing Out the Dead, a not so special movie with some good moments of Cage screeching like a wild dog driving an ambulance around Hell's Kitchen.
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