Ever since I first saw "Aguirre: der Zorn Gottes" on a German class field trip, I have been entranced with Werner Herzog's films. His documentaries are extraordinary and his narrative films have a verisimilitude often lacking in films by other directors. His recent film "Rescue Dawn," a narrative film inspired by his earlier documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," Herzog gave us a riveting story of hope in the face of hopelessness. The film features an excellent performance by Steve Zahn, a talented comedic actor who demonstrated dramatic ability in "Dawn."
On November 20th, First Look Studios will be releasing Herzog's latest film "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans." The film is a kind of re-envisioning of the cult classic 1992 Abel Farrara film starring Harvey Keitel.
Herzog changes the setting of the film from New York City to New Orleans in a move that opens the possibilities for Herzog to use the titular Bad Lieutenant as a human representation of the city itself. The press release describes the new film as follows:
In Werner Herzog’s new film BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, Nicolas Cage plays a rogue detective who is as devoted to his job as he is at scoring drugs -- while playing fast and loose with the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves (played by Eva Mendes). Together they descend into their own world marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience. The result is a singular masterpiece of filmmaking: equally sad and manically humorous.
At first look, the role looks to be a nice fit for Cage. Many of his idiosyncratic traits will mesh well with a character spiraling through addiction. Unlike many in the "geekosphere," I have a genuine appreciation for Nic Cage and his films. As the motley crew in "Freaks" would say, he's "One of Us" and this has led him to select some projects where he wouldn't normally be the first choice of filmgoers. But he makes his choices out of a genuine love for the medium.
I don't know if this film will be "sad and manically humorous," but if it manages to capture the city of New Orleans in all of its stark beauty -- while simultaneously depicting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina -- the film will be worth watching for the city alone. When you have a damaged urban landscape, you don't need to use as many shadows to create a sense of despair.
On November 20 the film will be released in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC. The film will not be released in New Orleans until December.