Thursday, September 3, 2009

The word from Venice: Bad Lieutenant might not be that bad

Anyone who knows me is aware of my loathing of Nicolas Cage and his films. He's annoying and his films usually suck. But the trailer for Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans revealed that this would be one of the few movies that didn't have Cage racing through fire, manically trying to save the world from certain doom. Which is a good thing.

Variety's Todd McCarthy shows that maybe my instincts were right and the film does not entirely suck:

From the moment it was announced, there was something a tad loony about the idea of remaking -- or revisiting or reinventing or whatever they want to call it -- Abel Ferrara's 1992 "Bad Lieutenant," with Werner Herzog, no less, directing. Well, lo and behold, there's also something rather loony about the finished film itself. But there's also a sort of deadpan zaniness, stemming from a steadfast conviction in its own absurdity, that gives "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" a strange distinction all its own. Not at all an art film, the picture lacks sufficient action to sate the appetites of sensation seekers, but star Nicolas Cage's name means enough to offer some short-run B.O. traction and good home-viewing market returns.

...New Orleans is a bright, if blighted, city, and Herzog approaches it, as well as the depredations of the title character, with a straight face and unblinking lens, the better to catch a glimpse of the links connecting Katrina, the corruption of authority as seen through the outrageous behavior of the lieutenant, and the money, which lands mostly in the wrong places.

The film is offbeat, silly, disarming and loopy all at the same time, and viewers will decide to ride with that or just give up on it, according to mood and disposition.

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