Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reptile Cam + Crack Pipe + Soul Dancing + Wet Underpants = Bad Lieutenant

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) - Herzog
Bad Lieutenant is perhaps the best comedy I've seen in a long time. Cage, like Kinski in Aguirre and Bruno S. in Kaspar Hauser before him, is born to play Terence McDonagh, a decorated, coked up New Orleans cop whose path, by all indications, points straight to an early grave. Cage is in his top form. Under the firm hands of Herzog, his usual overacting comes across as funny and even endearing. Clocking at lean mean 2 hours, Port of Call New Orleans has no fat and is dry as a feather in its post-Katrina setting. As McDonagh goes on solving the homicide case while digging a hole for himself that seems to be getting deeper by the minute, we are presented with delightful moments like Cage threatening to shoot old ladies in the head at a retirement home blaming them for the downturn of America, hilarious lizards cam and of course, the soul dancing scene.

Herzog's take on Bad Lieutenant far exceeds its typical film noir trappings. First, it's lol funny. And unlike its Coen Bros' or countless Elmore Leonard adaptations counterparts, Bad Lieutenant doesn't feel slick or premeditated at all. It's loose, playful and goofy. McDonagh's ambiguous morality has no heavy handed message and sans self righteous attitude of Travis Bickle. Herzog must've taken the opportunity to make a satire of the faux seriousness of its namesake original. With great supporting cast including scrumtious Eva Mendez, hot-in-uniform Feruza Balk, scene stealing Shea Whigham(of the Wrist Cutters), rapper-cum-actor Xzibit and wired bookie Brad Douriff, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is definitely one of my favorites this year.

Banjo Africa!

Throw Down Your Heart (2008) - Paladino
The film played at Margaret Mead Film Fest last year and had a week short theatrical run in the city this Spring. I missed both and was kicking myself silly. But it's finally out on DVD.
If Deliverance has ruined your banjo music experience forever, no worries, watching Sascha Paladino's doc chronicling American banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck's trip to Africa in search of where the famed Southern American instrument originated from is finally gonna wash away the turd and replace it with intimacy and joy.

Fleck, looking like a fuzzy Tom Sizemore, is a kindred spirit and an amazing banjo player. Here he is joined by musicians first from Uganda, Tanzania then Gambia and Mali as he treks from Eastern Africa to West, jamming with local musicians. Paladino captures some vivid footage(and not in the third world poverty porn way) and the music is just fantastic- here you can hear the roots of Calypso, Flamenco, Middle Eastern and even rap.

The doc doesn't really gets stuck in the narrative. The main attraction here obviously is music. And its loose ending is totally acceptable. The Soundtrack to the film is fantastic if anyone's interested.

Fear of Women

Antichrist (2009) - von Trier
article_1064x Didn't hate it. But didn't love it either. Definitely worth seeing. Gorgeously photographed with the Red One camera and as expertly executed as any other von Trier film. From Breaking the Waves on, his films always felt one note for me and never came across as sincere. But with Antichrist(his depression might have attributed to this), I felt more of a weight than his others- good intentions gone bad, controlling and fear of nature/women, christian guilt and shame, role reversal, self-fulfilling deathwish... there are a lot to chew on. I guess one can go on and on about the details and pseudo-symbolism of the film and what they represent forever. But I won't go into that. Too much of it is already said about the movie. This film needs to be experienced, not read.

Herzogian view on nature made me laugh. Funny. Usually when I watch a movie, I don't really care who made the film. I have no interest in a director's personal life or his/her beliefs. Herzog and von Trier are only two that I am actually interested in what they have to say outside their films.

Excess. That is what I didn't like about the movie. von Trier could've gotten the messages across without squirm inducing, graphic self mutilation scenes, really. He could've done without the redundant hokey ending too.

Me and my friends had a long nice talk after the movie over heaps of mofongo. For some reason seeing that movie made us very ravenous. It was good to talk among men- total sausage-fest I know, but I don't think any sane woman would wanna see this film and talk rationally about it afterward.