Neither remake nor sequel in any conventional sense of the terms, Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (First Look) takes the basic premise of a cop burning through the job on a high of dugs, sex, violence and larceny out of the Abel Ferrara universe of guilt and redemption and drops it into post-Katrina New Orleans and the Herzog world of indifferent and unforgiving nature. Nicolas Cage delivers a mesmerizingly unhinged performance as the film’s resident Herzogian madman, complete with self-deluded confidence and hallucinatory visions. I review the DVD for MSN here.
La France (Kino), a poignant and unconventional World War I drama from first-time director Serge Bozon, stars Sylvie Testud as a young wife in search of her soldier her husband, whose last letter to her is an abrupt farewell that ends with the words “You’ll never see me again.” She doesn’t accept that and proceeds to hack off her hair, bundle up in bulky men’s clothes and pass (quite convincingly) as a teenage boy looking to join the army. She’s grudgingly adopted by a wandering platoon that haunts the unnervingly serene forests, ostensibly “looking for the front” while suspiciously ducking patrols and periodically singing bittersweet ballads with sixties-era melodies on acoustic instruments. Tender and lyrical and lonely, it’s like a phantom dreamwalk along the borders of war, which periodically intrudes on the quiet odyssey. Pascal Greggory plays the company leader, a gaunt figure whose face looks like its been etched in battle. No supplements, but you can jump directly to the four musical numbers in the film from a “Song Selection” gallery. In French with English subtitles.
In Storm (Sturm) (Film Movement), the prosecution of a Serbian war criminal in the World Court at The Hague becomes a victim of political expediency in this legal thriller with an international scope. Kerry Fox stars as a prosecutor brought in to a years-long case at the last minute and discovers her that her chief witness is lying about what he saw but perhaps is telling the truth about what happened. She defies her boss to follow her own instincts and discovers that her witness was in fact protecting his sister (Anamaria Marinca, of “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”), the real victim of the accused, and that her story reveals a whole new realm of war crimes that the court would rather ignore. It’s a familiar story of power wielded to intimidate witnesses and cut deals in the backrooms to circumvent the spotlight of justice, set in the modern EU where the lines between judge, politician, businessman and diplomat blur as countries negotiate for their place in the new European order. Under the geopolitics, however, is a strong undercurrent of sexual politics: the men secretly make their deals without a thought to the women whose lives and commitments are on the line. It’s blunt but effective. Hans-Christian Schmid directs. In English, German, Bosnian and Serbian with English subtitles. Also features the Academy Award winning short film Toyland from Germany.
I review The Italian Straw Hat (Flicker Alley) for the Turner Classic Movies website and elsewhere on my blog go in depth with The Icons of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Sony) and two takes on Tolkien arriving on Blu-ray: The Lord of the Rings: Remastered Deluxe Edition (Warner) and The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (New Line).