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Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

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Like many people I have been boogled first by the existence of Werner Herzog’s re-make of Abel Ferrera’s Bad Lieutenant and then all over again by the growing consensus that it is actually quite good. I particularly liked the conclusion of Peter Bradshaw’s review for its economical summing up and simultaneous subversion of the cliches of critical shorthand:

It’s a critical commonplace to describe a movie or book as such-and-such “on crack” – superfluous in this case, because Nicolas Cage’s character and so many others are literally on crack, always hunched over the pipe and huffing it up. It is truer to say that Herzog’s movie is like Abel Ferrara off crack: dark and gruesome of course, but with something essentially more lenient than Ferrara – less self-torturing, more farcical and crucially more ironic, a quality not very apparent in the deadly serious horror of Ferrara’s film-making. The US release explicitly adds the definite article to the title. Well, for me, Ferrara and Keitel will always be the bad lieutenant, but Werner Herzog is probably the only director qualified to take this on, and his bizarre reboot has a fascination all of its own.

Written by Martin

21 May 2010 at 09:40

Posted in criticism, films

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