8/05/2010

Magick Mini Movie Review: Bad Lieutenant


At Magick Sandwich, we watch crap so you won't have to!

To be honest, I never intended to watch Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Some critics touted this "loose" remake as even more brilliant than Abel Ferrara's masterpiece starring Harvey Keitel as the original Bad Lieutenant. Others said it couldn't live up to its predecessor.

Which made me wonder: what are these people smoking? Bad Lieutenant was a terrible movie. I'm pretty sure that I've seen Harvey Keitel's penis more than his urologist. If the movie had been done in 3D, the audience could have given him a prostate exam. The highlight for me was Harvey naked in a crucifixion pose, his member bouncing up and down in a riveting penile tour de force.


My husband and I made up a little ditty as we watched. Every time Harvey did something awful, we'd sing, "He's bad! He's a lieutenant! He's a bad lieutenant!" It was pretty tuneless and a lot of jazz hands were involved, but it was still better than the movie.

Later, a junkie does a monologue explaining the meaning of the entire movie. While shooting up. On a toilet. Okay, so maybe that counts as brilliance in some circles. I was happy to be told what it was supposed to mean, just in case I ever had to tell anyone about it. Unfortunately, I forgot. Sorry about that. I think it had something to do with society.

Predictably, my husband and I agreed to skip the new version with Nicolas Cage. By now everyone knows Nicolas Cage is batshit insane. He named his son Kal-El, had a pet octopus, lived in a fake castle, bought a dinosaur skull and declared he only eats meat from animals who have "dignified sex." He eats fish and fowl, but no pork. What does Nicolas Cage know about pig sex that I don't?

Also, his hair and teeth freak me out a little.

But then he appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and was miraculously coherent. Charming, even. And a chink appeared in my armor. He seemed pretty normal. Should I give the movie a chance? Werner Herzog directed it and he's no slouch, right?

You may recall Herzog as that guy who got Christian Bale to starve himself for Rescue Dawn. That's not a great achievement, though. Bale will skip food for any crappy role. Did you see him in The Machinist

I think Bale's career may be an elaborate cover for an eating disorder.

I remember Werner Herzog best as the director who made the documentary Grizzly Man and then withheld the final scene of the subject being devoured by a bear. He said it was too disturbing. I'm sure it would have haunted my dreams, but why does Herzog get to claim the moral high ground by not showing it? After all, he's the one who chose to film someone who was clearly mentally ill instead of putting the camera down and getting the guy some medication. That would have been less exploitative...but less award-winning.

 

Anyway, back to the bad lieutenants (lieutenti?). Cage's cop, like Keitel's, lives in a rollicking world of perversity. But neither film rises to the absurdity of Showgirls, a flick so awesomely atrocious it's now a cult hit. Friends of mine--women!--used to leave bits of dialogue on each other's answering machines. "I have my period: check" was a popular choice. My favorite bit was when Elizabeth Berkley pulled a switchblade and then immediately vomited, but that was hard to translate into a phone message.

In case you decide to watch Showgirls--no judgment--check out how the camera always cuts away from Berkley's ass when she's spinning around the pole. For a normal girl, it's a fine ass and Berkley's looks great in still photos, but in motion, it's like two wobbly bags of suet. I have no problem with women being whatever size and shape they want. But using an actress with a less than perfect ass to play an idealized movie version of a stripper makes no sense to me.


Okay, I know nobody cares. If you're watching her spin on a pole, you're probably not concentrating on camera work. This is like pointing out obviously fake breast implants; all guys see are boobies.

Speaking of which, Eva Mendes and her bodacious mammaries are frequently on display as the prostitute who loves Cage's twisted cop, Terence McDonagh. But no full frontal from Mr. Cage, who chooses instead to enhance his performance with a shocking lack of sideburns. (I know I mentioned it already but the creepy hair deserves to be revisited.)

I have a couple of  fundamental problems with this movie. First of all, Terence stops a young couple, steals the boy's drugs and rapes his girlfriend against the side of their car, grunting while asking her if her daddy never went to her school plays and so forth. That's not the bad part. The angle is all wrong. She's shorter than Cage and standing flat-footed on the ground the whole time. As anyone familiar with the realities of vertical sex knows, this is just not possible. I'm offended that this supposedly gritty drama can't be bothered to get a simple thing like that right.

Second, this movie delves deeply into the world of drugs. When Terence snorts something and  yells, "Fuck!" it's natural to wonder if he's accidentally tooted up some drain cleaner. But then he shows up at his prostie girlfriend's palatial digs, tells her what he'd thought was coke was heroin and does she have any blow because he needs to report to work. This is perfectly reasonable. Of course he needs coke to counteract the heroin. That's just science.

But when he smokes crack, he laughs and laughs, showing every gigantic tooth in his head. He brays like a demented pack mule. This extended hilarity sprints well past the capabilities of any known substance and slides into the realm of a psychotic break. As Whitney once said, "Crack is whack," but it's not full-tilt bozo crazy.


If crack is this much fun, why does anyone try to stop smoking it?

*****

And there you have it. For a "mini" review, that felt like forty miles of bad road. But I liked it. I hope it was good for you, too.

More reviews:
Magick Mini Movie Reviews
Magick Mini Movie Reviews #2

14 comments:

  1. I had no desire to see this one or the first one...and now I do have a desire to see Show Girls, though. You said "boobies." Heh heh. Heh heh.

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  2. Is there a "I've seen Harvey Keitel's penis" club? Because, unfortunately, I've have to count myself as a member... *sigh*

    ...does this mean I'll have to wear our official t-shirt to all family functions?

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  3. @Unfinished Rambler: Yes, boobies--rouged and iced nipples, too. Enjoy. Make sure you watch it with your wife so she won't think you're sneaking soft-core porn. Seriously, this is one of those movies your wife will want to see for its humor and discomfort value. Let me know how you like it!

    @Herman: That domain is still available so no one's formed a support group yet, as far as I know.

    The good news is that the t-shirt is now pixelated. So your granny won't faint and/or hump your leg, depending on how randy she's feeling. Phew! No more embarrassing reunion videos on YouTube.

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  4. THANK YOU for watching those movies so I didn't have to. Honestly... for me, Cage's hair and teeth aren't the most freaky thing about him, for me it's the monotone voice. In Peggy Sue got married, I kept cheering for Peggy to run after the bohemian hippy boy because at least his voice changed tone when he spoke.

    Anyhoo... I've left a marvelous response to your comment over at my blog. I hope you get all excited like I was when I wrote it.

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  5. @fracas: You're right! Now that you mention it, I know why I disliked him as far back as Raising Arizona!

    (I read your response. I think it's a great idea!)

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  6. Don't talk to me about Mr Cage .... I still haven't forgiven him for ..... oh never mind ......

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  7. Show girls would have been "Epic" if only Gina Gershon had Pig sex with the man with no side burns.

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  8. @Daddy P: I'm sorry to cause you to revisit old trauma.

    @lotgk: You are brilliant! I smell sequel. (Literally, I smell it.)

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  9. Like Fracas, I have to thank you for watching those movies for me. Neither appeals to me, I rarely go to the cinema these days but when I do it's usually to our local 'art-house' place http://www.chichestercinema.org
    Thanks also for filling me in on the strange world of Nicholas Cage. Daddy P posted about his dislike of him lately and i've only ever known him for films like 'Rumble Fish' and 'Wild at Heart', both of which I thought were excellent.

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  10. @gitwizard: I go back and forth with Cage. I remember him being good in Leaving Las Vegas but it might've been the camera work that made him so convincing.

    On the other hand, Elisabeth Shue was very good in that flick and now she's in Piranha 3D, which I'm definitely going to see. 3D is made for cheese, in my opinion.

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  11. I just looked up 'Piranha 3D' and found this review:
    http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/entertainment/film/913124/piranha-3d-review.html
    This is in a Brit newspaper that is only really fit for soaking up noisome spills but I guess the reviewer tells us all we need to know i.e. it's a boobfest with gore - in 3D, Unfinished Rambler is probably going then? :o)

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  12. @gitwizard: I hope Unfinished goes so we can discuss its finer points. Boobs and blood are part of a great American tradition which also includes boobs and bullets and, of course, the sentimental favorite: boobs and boobs.

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