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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009): Werner Herzog: Port of Crazy Nutzoid Filmmaker

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)


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You can find roughly eighty different movie posters for PoCNO online; this is my favorite. Wonder why?

There are a lot of rumors floating around about this movie. If I’m reading between the proper lines, here’s the story that seems right to me: Werner Herzog had a script about a crazy cop going on a rampage. It was called Port of Call: New Orleans. The movie’s producers had the rights to the name Bad Lieutenant, and were trying to turn Abel Ferrara’s masterpiece—which Herzog had never seen (and to my knowledge still hasn’t)—and thus insisted on the title having Bad Lieutenant in it somewhere. Herzog’s compromise was to simply use both titles, ignore the Abel Ferrara connection altogether, and go ahead and make the movie he wanted to make. Thus, the correct way to approach PoCNO is to ignore the title altogether and go into it with no expectations. And if you do this, you are almost guaranteed one hell of a good time.

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“Wow, I never even knew I liked rap music before!”

Plot: Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage in the role he was born to play) is a police officer in the city of New Orleans. He is so corrupt that the very word “corrupt” has ceased to have meaning, as it relates to Terence McDonagh; he lives in a world of his own. Assigned the case of five murdered illegal Senegalese immigrants in what may have been a drug deal gone wrong, McDonagh finds himself in close with Big Fate (played by rapper Xzibit), a New Orleans crime lord who realizes as much as McDonagh does that a partnership between the two could be mutually beneficial…

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This has become the most famous scene in the movie. Probably because it makes NO GODDAMN SENSE.

Plot, here, is secondary; this is a movie about Nic Cage doing massive amounts of drugs, wandering around New Orleans in a haze, encountering criminals and rogue iguanas, and once in a while attempting to do his job (and doing it so ineptly that he can’t help but be promoted, as we see in the opening scene). If you’re looking for some sort of coherence, you’re in the wrong movie; this is an impressionist romp in the same vein as, say, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser or Even Dwarfs Started Small rather than the kind of movie Herzog has become known for over the years (either the brilliant documentaries or the obsessive, driven fictional films like Invincible or the films he made with Klaus Kinski). It’s not meant to be anything more than a hefty dose of fun, and as long as you take it on its own terms, you’ll have a blast with it. *** ½


I understand Xzibit’s new album is going to be called Return of the Stoned Iguana

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

One response »

  1. Pingback: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (2009): A Rare Misstep by a Master | Popcorn for Breakfast

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