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“No, it’s not a remake.” –Werner Herzog
DIRECTED BY: Werner Herzog
FEATURING: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Val Kilmer
PLOT: Terence McDonagh, a New Orleans cop, suffers a permanent spinal injury when rescuing a convict neck-deep in floodwater from Hurricane Katrina. Shortly thereafter he is promoted to the rank of police lieutenant and develops an opiate addiction, accrues massive gambling debts, and finds himself investigating the murder of five Senegalese immigrants. Over the course of the case, he teams up with local crime kingpin, “Big Fate,” in the hopes of keeping his head above water.
- Abel Ferrara made the cult film Bad Lieutenant, starring Harvey Keitel as a drug, sex and gambling addicted cop investigating the rape of a nun, in 1992. Port of Call: New Orleans is neither a sequel nor a true remake.
- The original New York City setting was changed at Nicolas Cage’s request in order to help New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. (How the gesture would accomplish this is unclear.)
- Director Werner Herzog claimed to never have seen Abel Ferrara‘s original, only signing on to the project because Cage requested him so to do.
- It took nearly a decade for Werner Herzog and Abel Ferrara to bury the hatchet after Ferrara expressed his dismay at the project going forward without any input from him.
- Adding to his list of “unlikely ingestibles”, Nicolas Cage inhaled baby powder every time his character snorted cocaine (or heroin).
INDELIBLE IMAGE: With the entire feature viewed from Lieutenant McDonagh’s perspective, its unreliability is a given—this is a man who loves his uppers, downers, and sleep deprivation. On the off chance the viewer considers taking his story at face value, this notion is disabused by a pair of phantom iguanas eyed suspiciously by McDonagh to the dulcet tones of “Please Release Me.”
TWO WEIRD THINGS: “There ain’t no iguana”; break-dancing soul
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Cram a police procedural through the esoteric whims of Werner Herzog’s brain, then project this mishmash of corruption, drugs, nostalgia, and iguanas onto the frantic gesticulation of Nicolas Cage as a chronic back-pain sufferer going through some really heavy shit right now, and you have Bad Lieutenant.
Trailer for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
COMMENTS: Werner Herzog, by an almost objective reckoning, is Continue reading 20*. BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS (2009)