This being the first review for the month of September during the “National Cinemas” project, and thus the first review in a month-long exploration of German cinema. It seemed only appropriate to go with the best film by Germany’s greatest living filmmaker.
Edited early 2016
When someone coined the term “Location, location, location”, I don’t think they had Herzog’s films in mind. Yet it’s an apt description for his filmmaking sensibility. As depicted by Herzog, location is a mindscape of pure emotional resonance. He spoke vividly, and still does, about the “ecstatic truth” of the movies, the idea that reality or logic matter not when a film speaks to the rawest emotions of human-kind. And in the Amazon, a place of wonder and desperation where civilization ends and the essences of humanity and the world play out with little mercy, Herzog found his ultimate test-case. Fascinated by it, he decided to do what any great madman would: make a film about it. Continue reading
Was there ever a better cinematic pairing than Nicolas Cage and Werner Herzog? Well, Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog, but here I sense a second coming. The H-man was always obsessed with something, anything, even obsession, and Cage also plays his roles with an unhinged, wild-man version of obsession, even if recently it’s been obsession for paychecks so he can go trampoline in a castle somewhere. And here they’ve produced the kind of film that wouldn’t be more appropriate anywhere than on a screen in front of said trampoline, ready to give you a splitting headache or cast you into the stratosphere. I’m not sure which.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a spiritual successor to the 1992 film of the same main title, is a film noir, but it’s the kind we haven’t seen in decades – the kind epitomized by eccentric ’50s films like Kiss Me Deadly. These films were gloriously weird and slyly subversive. They played by their own rules, created characters that fit types of their own creations, and took joy in a sort of playful anarchy of their own creation. They were like playgrounds for filmmakers interested in raw emotions taken to extremes that couldn’t exist in reality. They were fantasies, all the more ruthless because they masqueraded as reality. Nowadays, we get stoic, grim films with no sense of humor and a nagging desire to strive for reality. In doing so, they sacrifice unconscious affect. Continue reading