Friday, July 15, 2011

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

BL:PoCNO, apart from having the most cumbersome title of any movie I've reviewed for this site, also has the distinction of being maybe the best film I've reviewed here. This means it edges out Death Bed: The Bed that Eats and Kazaam. Despite its long and confusing name (which resulted in a lawsuit from another movie called Bad Lieutenant), and a long-awaiting re-uniting of Ghost Rider stars Nic Cage and Eva Mendes, BL is actually really good. It's surprisingly funny, consistently entertaining, and uses Nic Cage's trademark quiet/LOUD acting to full effect.

Not only is this woman not a suspect, she's not even a witness.

Cage is Terence McDonagh, a New Orleans cop who makes Lieutenant after rescuing a man from a flooding prison during Katrina. He's given a major murder case by the chief, who questions McDonagh's prescription drug usage. It doesn't take long to see Vicodin is the least of Tery's vices, as he takes any number of illegal drugs, makes ridiculous wagers on LSU football, and is in a committed relationship with a gorgeous prostitute (Mendes). The film starts looking like a Greek tragedy when our triply tragically flawed hero starts getting in deep water from all of his vices. As if that weren't enough, a nurse complains when he draws his gun on her while asking her questions (in front of the nurse's assisted living patient). But most Greek tragedies don't feature Nicolas Cage going mad-eyed and screaming about how he should murder people for not being forthcoming in a murder investigation.

BL Tip #257: if you randomly threaten people with arrest, you can make them do anything.

The film is built around Cage's performance and really fits what Cage always does anyway, when he's not doing his Elvis impression. He brings a manic-ness to Tery's personality that actually makes sense in his chosen profession. Like Sherlock Holmes, if Sherlock ever pretended to be Moriarty's friend so he could plant DNA evidence linking Moriarty to a crime. It's over-the-top and funny, but also surprisingly earnest, thanks to a few scenes where we see Tery not just as a drug addict but as a pretty okay guy, when he's not high on cocaine. The film is also inter-cut with a few surreal sequences, most involving lizards, but considering this is Werner Herzog, it's surprisingly accessible. Basically people should watch it, which is why I'm not giving away any real spoilers here. Honestly it's too good a movie for YSM, except for its unbelievably dumb title and the presence of Nic Cage, mega-actor.

"What are these damn Iguanas doing on my coffee table?"

Arbitrary Rating:

Three Cageheads out of three.


Terence McDonagh: I'll kill all of you! To the break of dawn. To the break of dawn, baby!

Big Fate: What about them murders? You don't give a fuck about them?
Terence: Look at me. Look at you. I never did.

Terence: You don't have a lucky crackpipe?

Terence: Wait a minute, you want me to get wet on account of you? Hey man I've got on Swiss cotton underpants. Yeah, that's right. It cost me $55 a pair. You think I want to get all of this brown water and shit all over them. That don't come out.

Terence: Fuck Duffy! Just fuck him.

Terence: TWO DIMES! On Louisiana... against... Georgia!

Terence: (to an old woman) Drop dead you selfish cunt! You're the fuckin' reason this country's going down the drain!

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