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.
Magick Mini Movie Reviews
Magick Mini Movie Reviews #2