DRAMA/THRILLER BAD LIEUTENANT – PORT OF CALL: NEW ORLEANS (18) 121min ●●●●●
The perverse genius that is Werner Herzog may be the only man unhinged enough to remake Abel Ferrara’s sordid, Catholic guilt-heavy, masturbatory, drug fringed fusion of the dirty cop flick and Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, but this is not that. Despite his attempts to hide it, Herzog is, at heart, a German classicist and Bad Lieutenant draws more from Goethe’s Faust than it does from Ferrara’s grim deterministic policier. Part closet drama, part nihilistic freefall drama and part mythological and philosophical musing (unlike most, Herzog does not ignore Goethe’s little read second part of the tragedy).
New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: police sergeant
Terence McDonagh (Nic Cage, fantastic) saves a drowning prisoner from the waterlogged police station. The act earns him a promotion and a back injury. Addiction follows as McDonagh bullies drugs out of anyone he can, any way he can. There’s also his junkie prostitute girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes) and recovering alcoholic dad to keep happy, to say nothing of his bookie. As things spiral out of control, a kind of phase space trajectory takes over – momentum and perception change and nothing goes the way one might expect. For reasons too numerous go into here, Herzog is arguably the most
brilliant of all living filmmakers, and with Bad Lieutenant he brings together both the delinquent and satirical strains in his work. McDonagh is an intuitive but deeply corrupt cop acting with all the freedoms that disaster zone capitalism allows. As New Orleans is reconstructed as a rich man’s paradise, he gets high. His idea of law enforcement is to arrest anyone who can’t supply him and yet fate proves quirky indeed. There’s a humorous, obdurate and deviant strain running through the procedural thriller structure, and as always with Herzog, it’s an odd, unsettling film, one riven by Cage’s phenomenal central performance. Repeated viewing is necessary, cult status is guaranteed. In the words of McDonagh: ‘To the break of dawn. To the break of dawn, baby.’ (Paul Dale) ■ General release from Fri 21 May.
DRAMA/ROMANCE EYES WIDE OPEN (EINAYM PKUHOT) (12A) 96min ●●●●●
You can just imagine the pitching session for this one: ‘Alright already guys – this one’s special. It’s Brokeback Mountain in a bekishe with extra curly payots on the side.’ Every revolution starts with a single step and Eyes Wide Open is, to the best of my knowledge, the first gay melodrama to be set in the ultra orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. It’s a queer cinema benchmark and, as such, deserves praise and notice, if nothing else.
Introverted butcher and family man
Aaron (Zohar Strauss) decides to employ rootless, handsome youth Ezri (Ran Danker). They soon start a passionate affair and Aaron starts to neglect his family and the commitments he has always made to the orthodox community. Intolerance and persecution are soon visited on both men.
Haim Tabakman’s feature debut is a measured and restrained affair, one greatly helped by Merav Doster’s sparse, delicately suggestive screenplay. It’s all very tasteful and anyone looking for loads of unforeskinned raunch will certainly not find it here. That the film is ultimately too clichéd a tale of doomed love and unbending doctrine to be either compelling or memorable is a shame, but maybe it’s enough to admire the thematic bravery and insight inherent within. (Paul Dale) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Mon 24–Sat 29 May. See feature, page 42.
Reviews Film ALSO RELEASED
Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time (12A) 115min (unable to review at time of going to press) Producer Jerry Bruckheimer newest attempt to kick-start a lucrative franchise is a video game adaptation. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a prince who must keep a powerful, mythical object called the Sands of Time out of the hands of villains. To do this, he needs the help of a plucky princess (Gemma Arterton). Will be reviewed at www.list.co.uk Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (PG) 123min ●●●●● Very welcome restored 35mm print of bizarre but lushly effective 1951 seafaring melodrama from brilliant Glasgow based distributors Park Circus. Ava Gardner and James Mason star. What more do you want? Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 14–Thu 20 May. The Calling (15) 109min ●●●●● Engrossing melodrama set in a nunnery where nothing is quite as it seems. The Calling is written and directed by Jan Dunn, whose previous films include festival favourites Gypo and Ruby Blue. A great veteran cast includes Brenda Blethyn, Susannah York and Rita Tushingham. See picture caption, index. Cameo, Edinburgh, Fri 14–Thu 20 May (matinees only).
DANCE/DRAMA/ROMANCE STREETDANCE 3D (PG) 98min ●●●●●
The creative team behind Streetdance has sought to put a different spin on the UK grime scene by portraying teens in a more positive light while paying homage to American dance films such as Footloose and Step Up. It’s a shame, then, that they chose to wrap it in such a conventional story, which brings absolutely nothing new to the genre.
Carly (Nichola Burley) and her crew attempt to triumph at the UK Street Dance Championships with the unlikely help of some ballet students led by schoolmistress Helena (Charlotte Rampling). En route cultures clash, romance is found and the kids find new ways to express themselves.
Streetdance does come alive during its numerous dance sequences, which are
as adventurous and inspiring as those in its American counterparts, while co- directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini depict London in a very favourable light. But the script is so bland and predictable that it stifles the life out of any of the characters and leaves the performances floundering as a result. The film struggles to maintain any interest whenever it stops moving. (Rob Carnevale) ■ General release from Fri 21 May.
13–27 May 2010 THE LIST 45