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Werner Herzog talks about Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Posted by LiveFor on November 7, 2009



It does not bespeak great wisdom to call the film The Bad Lieutenant, and I only agreed to make the film after William (Billy) Finkelstein, the screenwriter, who had seen a film of the same name from the early nineties, had given me a solemn oath that this was not a remake at all. But the film industry has its own rationale, which in this case was the speculation of starting some sort of a franchise. I have no problem with this. Nevertheless, the pedantic branch of academia, the so called “film-studies,” in its attempt to do damage to cinema, will be ecstatic to find a small reference to that earlier film here and there, though it will fail to do the same damage that academia — in the name of literary theory — has done to poetry, which it has pushed to the brink of extinction. Cinema, so far, is more robust. I call upon the theoreticians of cinema to go after this one. Go for it, losers.

What the producers accepted was my suggestion to make the title more specific—Port of Call: New Orleans, and now the film’s title combines both elements. Originally, the screenplay was written with New York as a backdrop, and again the rationale of the producers set in by moving it to New Orleans, since shooting there would mean a substantial tax benefit. It was a move I immediately welcomed. In New Orleans it was not only the levees that breeched, but it was civility itself: there was a highly visible breakdown of good citizenship and order. Looting was rampant, and quite a number of policemen did not report for duty; some of them took brand new Cadillacs from their abandoned dealerships and vanished onto dry ground in neighboring states. Less fancy cars disappeared only a few days later. This collapse of morality was matched by the neglect of the government in Washington, and it is hard to figure out whether this was just a form of stupidity or outright cynicism. I am deeply grateful that the police department in New Orleans had the magnanimity and calibre to support the shooting of the film without any reservation. They know — as we all do — that the overwhelming majority of their force performed in a way that deserves nothing but admiration.


New Orleans. This was fertile ground to stage a film noir, or rather a new form of film noir where evil was not just the most natural occurrence. It was the bliss of evil which pervades everything in this film. Nicolas Cage followed me in this regard with blind faith. We had met only once at Francis Ford Coppola’s, his uncle’s, winery in Napa Valley almost three decades ago when Nicolas was an adolescent, and I was about to set out for the Peruvian jungle in order to move a ship over a mountain. Now, we wondered why and how we had eluded each other ever since, why we had never worked together, and it became instantly clear that we would do this film together, or neither one of us would do it. There was an urge in both of us to join forces.

Film noir always is a consequence of the Climate of Time; it needs a growing sense of insecurity, of depression. The literature of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett is a child of the Great Depression, with film noir as its sibling. I sensed something coming in the months leading up to the making of the film: a breakdown which was so obvious in New Orleans, and half a year before finances and the economy collapsed, the signs were written on the wall. Even films like Batman turned out to be much darker than anyone expected. What finally woke me up was a banality: when attempting to lease a car I was confronted by the dealership with the unpleasant news that my credit score was abysmal, and hence I had to pay a much higher monthly rate. Why is that, I asked — I had always paid my bills, I had never owed money to anyone. That was exactly my problem: I had never borrowed money, had hardly ever used a credit card, and my bank account was not in the red. But the system punished you for not owing money, and rewarded those who did. I realized that the entire system was sick, that this could not go well, and I instantly withdrew money I had invested in stock of Lehman Brothers while a bank manager, ecstatic, with shuddering urgency, was trying to persuade me to buy even more of it.


As to the screenplay: it is William Finkelstein’s text, but as usual during my work as a director it kept shifting, demanding its own life, and I invented new scenes such as a new beginning and a new end, the iguanas, the “dancing” soul (actually this is Finkelstein’s, who plays a very convincing gangster in the film), the childhood story of pirate’s treasure, and a spoon of sterling silver. I also deleted quite a number of scenes where the protagonist takes drugs, simply because I personally dislike the culture of drugs. Sometimes changes entered to everyone’s surprise. To give one example: Nicolas knew that sometimes after a scene was shot I would not shut down the camera if I sensed there was more to it, a gesture, an odd laughter, or an “afterthought” from a man left alone with all the weight of a rolling camera, the lights, the sound recording, the expectant eyes of a crew upon him. I simply would not call “cut” and leave him exposed and suspended under the pressure of the moment. He, the Bad Lieutenant, after restless deeds of evil, takes refuge in a cheap hotel room, and has an unexpected encounter with the former prisoner whom he had rescued from drowning in a flooded prison tract at the beginning of the film. The young man, now a waiter delivering room service, notices there is something wrong with the Lieutenant, and offers to get him out of there. I kept the camera rolling, but nothing more came from Nicolas. “What, for Heaven’s sake, could I have added,” he asked. And without thinking for a second I said, “Do fish have dreams?” We shot the scene once more with this line, and it looked good and strange and dark. But it required being anchored in yet an additional scene at the very end of the film, with both men, distant in dreams leaning against the glass of a huge aquarium where sharks and rays and large fish move slowly as if they indeed were caught in the dreams of a distant and incomprehensible world.

I love cinema for moments like this.

The films stars Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Coolidge, Vondie Curtis Hall, Shawn Hatosy, Denzel Whitaker, Xzibit, Shea Wigham, Katie Chonacas and Brad Dourif.

Due out at the end of November.

Source: Film School Rejects

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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – Photos from Werner Herzog’s new film

Posted by LiveFor on August 15, 2009

The trailer for the sort of sequel to Bad Lieutenant was out a while back and it looked like a mad, bad, trippy kind of Nicolas Cage kind of movie. Now Collider have a few photos from the film. This will either be incredibly bad or a cult classic.
Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage), a homicide detective with the New Orleans Police Department, is promoted to Lieutenant after he saves a prisoner from drowning in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, during his heroic act, he severely injures his back and is put on prescription pain medication. A year later, Terence – struggling with his addictions to sex, Vicodin and cocaine – finds himself in the battle to bring down drug dealer Big Fate, who is suspected of massacring an entire family of African immigrants. The film also stars Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Coolidge and Fairuza Balk.

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Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, 1995 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on January 4, 2009

Director: Gary Fleder
Starring: Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Walken
Running Time: 115 minutes
Score: 10 / 10

This review by malkane316 – a truly great movie with great dialogue. Boat drinks to you all. Cheers to Daan for reminding me of this forgotten classic.

The early and mid nineties saw the emergence of Tarantino and his new greed of filthy pulp genius, and naturally everyone else wanted apiece of the action. From now on scripts had to be full of witty dialogue, the characters had to be from the wrong side of the tracks, but we had to be able to relate to them. Of course, most of Tarantino’s imitators were rubbish, leaving the man himself to bask in glory. However, when Scott Rosenberg gave his brilliant script to director Felder, something special was created- a Tarantinio beater.

TTDIDWYD suffered perhaps because of its title, and because it is more downbeat than much of what was being released at the time. Some reviews here have strangely dared to say that the dialogue is crap, that certain scenes to do not ‘further the narrative’. How odd, and these people love Tarantino? For whatever reason, the film has largely been forgotten about, but with the cast it has i’m sure more people will come to it and find what a gem it is. Truly it has one of the best casts ever- Walken, Garcia, Lloyd, Buscemi, Balk, Anwar, Warden, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, and they all give near career bests. The plot sees Jimmy the Saint brought out of retirement for one last job by his psychotic ex mob boss, played terrifyingly by Walken. For the job he needs to recruit some of his old gang- Pieces (Lloyd), Franchise (Forsythe), Easy Wind (Nunn), and reluctantly Critical Bill (Williams). Each man is out of the game, but this job will pay them for the rest of their lives and they can retire in peace. The job is simple- Walken’s son lost his mind after his girlfriend left him for another guy. The other guy is coming to town, so Jimmy and his gang scare him into leaving the girl, so that Walken’s son will be happy again. This will in turn give Walken’s life meaning again. Things go horrifically wrong though, and each member of the gang is given 48 hours to live. As this is happening, Jimmy has fallen for Anwar, but can’t be with her. He tries to get his friends to run for safety, but they refuse, willing to accept whatever happens. Jimmy also stays to try and do some right in his life- giving the engagement ring to Anwar and her fiancée, and saving local whore Balk from wasting her life, giving her a child. Soon the inevitable happens as the unstoppable assassin (Buscemi) comes to town, but not before Jimmy exacts perfect revenge.

The script is easily one of the best of the last 50 years, full of quotable dialogue “I am Godzilla! You are Japan!” , but full of meaning, heart, and existential dreaming. The whole story revolves around life and death, how we will be remembered in death for our achievements in life, and giving hope to the living as we die. Every character is extraordinarily drawn, with depth and individuality. Jimmy tries to save his friends but their pride means he has to accept their decisions. He may be a gangster, but he knows what is right, moral rules are forever more important than the laws of Cops and Robbers. Pieces works in a porno theatre with the painful loss of strength in his hands, but he knows that back in the day they were at the top of their league. Walken is genuinely Evil as the man with the plan, Buscemi is brilliant as Mr Sssh, and Williams is a forgotten man- a self serving patriot, guns framed on his walls, ready to protect himself from invasion at anytime. Anwar and Nicolsi (as Walken’s son) deserve special mention, both get our sympathy as they are trapped in a situation they are not part of, and do not deserve what happens to them. There are too many characters and traits to list, ensuring that I at least will continue to find new things with every viewing.

Although there is strong sentimentality, there is plenty of violence and strong language to balance everything, and as i’ve said before, sentimentality is nothing to be ashamed of-in life or in movie making. The film is not meant to be completely bleak and hard hitting, and it is a sad sign of our times when we berate a film for being sentimental. Much like the Shawshank Redemption in effect this film will leave you with hope. A breathtaking film which will stay with you forever if you let it. 10 out of 10

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Humboldt County – Poster

Posted by LiveFor on August 20, 2008

“A disillusioned medical student is stranded for a summer in a remote community of counterculture pot farmers, the last place in the world he imagined he would discover himself.”

Written and directed by Darren Grodsky & Danny Jacobs. Starring Fairuza Balk, Peter Bogdanovich, and Brad Dourif amongst others.

Looks like it could be good.

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