Friday, September 9, 2011

NOBPD: The New Orleans Bedlam Police Department.

99. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)

Herzog's Bad Lieutenant is one of the handful of movies I posted last time I was making my way through this list and it's here again (though dropping slightly in position). Herzog's film is an oddity in that it's neither a sequel nor a remake of the 1992 film starring Harvey Keitel. It is instead a unique crazed madcap crooked cop collapse and an experience that could only come from Werner Herzog. Nicolas Cage plays Terrence McDonagh, a New Orleans cop during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Due to a back injury sustained freeing prisoners during flooding he eventually forms an addiction to pain medication which leads to other substances and snowballs into a bizarre life of depraved madness and corruptibility.

McDonagh is a prime example of one of Cage's madhouse performances, and even better yet it's one of the times that his unrestrained madness works wonders for the film. Like I said the last time I listed Bad Lieutenant it's like Herzog's control of the actor seems less like strict direction and more like he released a raving madman from an asylum and let him run rampant throughout the film. Though perhaps it's more so like Herzog pointed Cage in the general direction he wanted like a gun and fired him into battle. Even though Cage's lunacy is over the top and there are clearly parts where he attempts to develop an accent and other sections of the film where it's completely absent, he's all together fascinating, and it's impossible to look away.

Much like Herzog's collection of work there is of course other gears working beneath the surface and Herzog seems repeatedly interested in exploring the depths of a man's madness while also touching upon his other various philosophical ponderings. To finish this post I'll leave it off with much of the final paragraph of Bad Lieutenant's previous listing. A primary interesting aspect of the film is its time period and setting. The place and time are of course New Orleans following Katrina's devastation of the city. Crime has risen and authoritative justice has been tarnished and corrupted. The fact that McDonagh injures himself during the storm, which serves as the catalyst to his downfall into depravity is an important moment to note. McDonagh's only selfless act, saving a man from drowning, takes place before the after effects of the storm. The hurricane washes the filth from the cracks and rather than carrying them away brings them to the surface. We see the faults and imperfections of a part of the governing body, a section of the state designed to serve and protect doing the opposite, and these problems are naturally human imperfections with the men in a position of power, which could of course be present in any man.

Films from 2009 on List:

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog)

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