Werner, Werner, what have ye done?

Posted by · 12:08 am · September 7th, 2009

Nicolas Cage in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New OrleansDon’t get me wrong.  I’m kind of glad to know there’s a lunatic out there making films.  Never a dull moment, that kind of thing.  But I want to know what happened to Werner Herzog.  What happened to the artist who gave us grand statements like “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” “Fitzcaraldo” and “Woyzeck?”  Who is this new guy?

“The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is a train wreck from the starting gun with a performance that almost captivates for two acts and soars of the rails for the last big push.  It would be embarrassing if it wasn’t so oddly endearing for being so utterly brazen.  And yet it doesn’t have the balls to embrace that sense of cinematic anarchy because it is, in the final analysis, a generic, inconsequential story.

Intriguingly enough, the crowd response was considerably positive.  That could have had something to do with the fact that Nicolas Cage was on hand to talk about the film, but the madness of it all clearly struck a nerve with this early morning crowd.  Color me confused.

I won’t bother reviewing the film since Guy already covered that territory in Venice, but I was shaking my head throughout.  Herzog has lost his sense of refinement.  He’s tapped into an addiction to embellishment late in his career that almost echoes a similar trajectory from Quentin Tarantino, but it’s much more unfortunate given the tools this man has at his disposal.

I couldn’t even be bothered to see tonight’s other sneak preview, “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?” because I was so disenchanted (plus, that one’s not doing so hot, either).  I guess I’ll catch up with it down the line.

Anyway, my final plea is this.  Whoever you are, tell us what you’ve done with Mr. Herzog.  Give him back to us.  He is sorely missed.

Here is Cage’s post-screening Q&A with festival co-director Tom Luddy (there are SPOILERS):

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→ 11 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

11 responses so far

  • 1 9-07-2009 at 1:53 am

    Andrew said...

    I really dislike Nicolas Cage. I think he ruins every film he’s in it. He’s one of those actors that get roles and awards only because they have connections. Pity.

  • 2 9-07-2009 at 2:56 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I’ve been wary of Werner Herzog ever since he took Dieter Dengler’s fascinating story of survival and turned it into a tawdry and witless bit of dishonest hero-worship.

  • 3 9-07-2009 at 4:10 am

    twinzin said...

    Every artist goes through phases Miles Davis and Werner Herzog as well they all do. I guess because their so freaking brilliant.

  • 4 9-07-2009 at 4:59 am

    Alex said...

    He should stick to documentaries till he can find a decent film to make…but I’m sure he’ll make a good one eventually if he keeps making them at the rate that he is.

    In other completely unrelated news, this is from AICN’s review of Bruce Beresford’s ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’.

    ‘You heard it here first: Bruce Greenwood is getting a Best Supporting Actor nomination in 2010. When I think back to the screening last week, it’s difficult to think of anything other than Greenwood’s performance.’

    Something to ponder….

  • 5 9-07-2009 at 8:47 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Ain’t It Cool News has a tendency to lather on the hyperbole. Still, Knowles (I think it was him) also predicted Daniel Day-Lewis was a lock for Best Actor two years ago after having seen There Will Be Blood, so maybe he’s on to something again. Personally, I would love it if he was right. Greenwood is one of those consistenly reliable character actors whose performances never call attention to themselves, which is probably why he’s never been nominated.

  • 6 9-07-2009 at 8:57 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    Andrew: I don’t agree that Nicolas Cage “ruins” the films he’s in. I think it’s that his choices of films are largely regrettable. It’s hard to think of anyone else (aside from Samuel L. Jackson) who makes such bizarre and poor choices in selecting roles.

    That said, I also think that Nicolas Cage can be an amazing actor. The two times he has been nominated for Oscars, he truly deserved it.

  • 7 9-07-2009 at 9:23 am

    Mike said...

    Nic Cage is a great actor, he is just not in any good movies anymore. He needs a really great role for people to take him seriously again. And I agree that his nominations and win really were deserved.

  • 8 9-07-2009 at 11:44 am

    david said...

    Robert: I disagree about your opinion concerning Rescue Dawn, though I did have to admit I liked his documentary on Dengler much better (Little Dieter Needs To Fly).

    Being a self confessed Herzog fanatic I can’t wait to see his two latest jaunts into “lunatic” filmmaking. I felt Encounters at the End of the World was a tremendous documentary, and that’s not very far in the rear view mirror, so I think it might be premature to assume that Herzog has completely lost his touch.

    Maybe his vision of ecstatic truth, when applied to the crime drama genre for instance, is meant to magnify to a ridiculous level the absolute lunacy and corruption which lays just below the surface of our civil forces, whose job it is to maintain public order when they themselves need the most policing.

  • 9 9-07-2009 at 12:05 pm

    Marvin said...

    Encounters at the End of the world is in my top 5 from last year. Granted, ’08 was not exactly the best year for movies but Encounters is the kind of movie that makes you rethink life.

  • 10 9-08-2009 at 11:07 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    This piece seems to entirely ignore that Herzog is still churning out legendary docs. ENCOUNTERS was magical and GRIZZLy MAN was one for the ages. And his last fiction was RESCUE DAWN, which I know was divisive but was still obviously a tough and carefully considered film.

  • 11 9-09-2009 at 12:30 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    His docs are overly indulgent as well, I feel.