Thursday, May 6, 2010
A Tale of Two Bad Lieutenants
I recently watched Werner Herzog's not-quite-remake (more like a riff) of Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant" and then revisited the earlier film the following night. Originally planning to write about both, I think the more interesting comparisons between the two have to do with how they were approached from the distinctive filmmaking viewpoints of both directors rather than what little plot or story each has to offer. This was something best conveyed visually. Sometimes, words cannot describe these films.
Each film is clearly a product of the directors' sensibilities, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. The tones of both films are also very much dictated by the central performances of Harvey Keitel and Nicolas Cage, who bring completely different energies to their roles.
It has not been a secret that when it was announced Herzog was going to make his "Lieutenant", there were several nasty comments exchanged between the two filmmakers. This video remix, as I call it, tries to show how these filmmakers' visions overlap, as well as fight with one another. It is rare to see two such notable directors tackle the same idea, as opposed to the usual scenario: a hack remaking a superior director's work. Oddly, in this case, I believed the superior director made the lesser, though bizarrely fascinating film.
You should be warned there are SPOILERS for both movies. I also do not shy away from either film's most lurid moments, so consider this piece very-NSFW.