Archive for December, 2011

We now return to our scene-for-scene look at Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. For best results, read Parts I, II, and III prior to this entry. I know that sounds like a lot of homework. Feel free to skip it and dive in. Spoilers abound.

We’re about an hour into Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a film as unwieldy and sprawling as its title. The movie began like some long-lost pilot for “Law & Order: New Orleans” — an object destined for late-night cable or the bargain bin at your dying video store. It then morphed into a freewheeling highlight reel of Nicolas Cage scene-stealing. It became weirder and meaner, likeĀ The Big Lebowski with a jagged edge. Bad Lieutenant is a film that tries on different hats for size, only to ditch them minutes later. Now it’s got a new hat. As we return to Bad Lieutenant, we see a drug addict (Nicolas Cage) drive across Louisiana to find his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes). Due to personal and professional obligations, he drags with him a young boy (Denzel Whitaker) and a dog.

Welcome to Bad Lieutenant: The wacky road movie.

Cage must protect the boy, a homicide witness, from a drug kingpin (Xzibit) looking to shut the kid up. Meanwhile, he hopes to find Mendes so he can drop off the dog, which belongs to his father.

The scene sets up a shopworn premise: Male protag gets saddled with kid. Hilarity and life-lessons ensue. Can you count the number of movies that follow this formula? (the list would include such wildly diverse titles as The Rock‘s The Game Plan and Sofia Coppola‘s Somewhere). (more…)

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This is the third installment of a scene-for-scene look at Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Parts I and II are available here and here. For best results, read Parts I and II first.

We now return to our scene-by-scene analysis of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. When we last left off, director Werner Herzog had just indulged in 30 seconds of shaky, digital video close-ups on a crocodile’s face. Our hero (Nicolas Cage), meanwhile, was busy exploiting a female cop (Fairuza Balk) to score drugs from the police property room.

Part III begins with Cage snorting heroin in Balk’s bedroom. Once more into the abyss.

Herzog starts with the above image of a bedroom mirror reflecting Cage. He then tracks away from the mirror as Balk, clad in seductress black underwear, enters the shot. Cage is too zonked-out to even feign arousal. Here we see him at his lowest; one form of hedonism (drugs) swallows his ability to engage in another (sex). Cage can’t even get a laugh in this scene. He just wants to lie down and let his head swim.

As mentioned in Part II, Cage reserves specific (and subtle) acting tics for the drugs he consumes. We can tell he’s on heroin now because, as he did in a previous scene, he claws limply at his own cheeks. (more…)

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