The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans ★★★★½

Werner Herzog is such a blindspot for me; I'm so fascinated by this guy's career - ranging from the craziest films ever made to the most honest documentaries of their era - and I feel as though he's going to be one of my favorite filmmakers: everything I've read about him seems like it's checking a little box on what I would enjoy in a film. And from the two films I've seen - this and "Rescue Dawn" - I think my suspicions are right: Herzog will probably be a filmmaker I can confidently call a favorite if I saw more of his movies.

"Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans" has got to be one of the most insane films I've seen come out of this century, which doesn't seem all too shocking because Herzog is (apparently) one of the craziest filmmakers who has ever lived and (unsurprisingly) Nicolas Cage is one of the craziest actors to step in front of the camera; this has the recipe of being AT LEAST strange and off-kilter, but thanks to Herzog and Cage, it's really, really bonkers. Bonkers to the point that it feels as though you're smoking crack or snorting coke alongside the titular lieutenant.

I love Cage. Even if he presents himself in such a weird way and doesn't necessarily have the best track record (in terms of filmography), he's still one of the best actors working currently; no matter if the project's bad or good, Cage is always consistently entertaining, even if that means he's churning out a whack performance in a shitty film or a controlled and subdued performance in a great film. His performance in here is truly one of his best, no joke or malice directed towards it. It's clear from the get-go that Terrence McDonagh is unstable, but we're able to see him contain that until a breaking point where McDonagh just snaps and it's just full-blown insanity.

This parallels Herzog's direction. The performance and the direction are such a fine marriage here; Herzog is contained until the blowup Cage's character has; prior to this, it's a fairly standard (yet tonally off) police procedural and then becomes an extreme character study about a man trying to keep his life normal, but finds that vices and pain awaits him at every corner. Herzog really then begins to allow us to see the complexity of Cage's character: he's corrupt, but becomes corrupt when nothing else seems to matter and the drugs and addictions have consumed him - even in that opening, it's clear that he's cocky and "bad," but here, it's clear that after his accident, Terrence's life has really changed for the worse.

Don't even compare this to Ferrara's ugly beast: these are two different animals made with two different intentions. Both are great, but this might be better.

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