28 January 2013

A Near Life Experience

When I was in school they showed us graphs and statistics representing our predicted future riches. “Go to University and get a qualification. Walk into the world with a degree and you'll live a life of wealth. Failure to do so will leave you poverty-stricken and starving. You'll wander the streets selling drugs and sex until you finally spiral into a state of suicidal depression. After years of whoring yourself out for that 'one last hit' you'll eventually reach rock bottom with your family finding your deformed and rotten carcase festering somewhere in a ditch”. I'm paraphrasing the teachers slightly but that was the basic jist of what they said.

A year after I'd received my prestigious BA (Hons) a friend and I were leaving the dole centre following one of our many regular visits. He was going to try and get hold of some weed whilst I was heading to a supermarket to beg them for a menial job. If I was really lucky they'd allow me to sit at a till where I could swap a percentage of my life for their minimum wage. This was not the situation I'd been promised by school. I don't know the legal backing of education but I think I'd have a genuine case if I sued them under the trades description act.
You are not your bank account

I'm young, male and enduring the aftermath of a system of lies. In times of crisis, many people will turn to their favourite book of fiction for help. The Bible’s never been there for me though and so I wouldn't consider the magical sky-man as a suitable source of guidance. With my degree lost somewhere in a draw of miscellaneous bedroom crap, I am not living the promised life of riches. I'm dwelling and stewing in a sleep deprived body filled with a sense of betrayal, frustration, self-pity and suppressed rage. As target markets go I couldn't be more perfectly designed to understand and enjoy the masterpiece of Fight Club. I am Jack's raging bile duct. I am Jack's inflamed sense of rejection. This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.  

I first saw the film when I was about fourteen years old and I just didn't get it. I went in wanting to see men punch the living shit out of each other but what I got was a lot of surreal, pseudo-philosophical waffle. The things that were spoken meant nothing to me with its preachy, life advice drivel sounding like the deranged ramblings of a drunken uncle. I gave it a few years though and returned for a repeat viewing aged about seventeen. I don't know what happened to me in that brief time because I certainly didn't grow up but by now the weight of the world was truly on my shoulders. At best I suppose I'd probably started to develop my smothering sense of cynicism as I slowly realised that adults actually don't know what the fuck they're talking about. Suddenly though Fight Club wasn't a disappointing film about men being hit in the face. With my slightly wearier outlook it was an exhilarating and unfamiliar lesson in honesty.

"I'll give you £20 for the bendy spoon"
From the moment it began I hung onto every line of dialogue like a schoolboy Neo finally being told the realities of this bullshit existence. It wasn't simply a case of “there is no spoon”, but rather that the spoon is a shiny slice of aspiration that I would be manipulated into yearning for. Mindlessly following the herd has never really appealed to me and suddenly here was a film that understood my greasy teen angst as though it was written in spots on my forehead. In two hours, Brad Pitt morphed from being the beautiful face that I angrily wanted to destroy, into the blooded grin of an anarchic messiah. For us alienated craps of the world, Tyler Durden is pretty much the Dalai Lama which is assuming that the Dalai Lama also likes to knock men’s teeth out and fuck women more damaged than himself.

It's kind of hard to describe the plot of Fight Club just because of how mental and how random it all is. It begins with Ed Norton's nameless narrator living life in a stupor after the modern world has left him unable to sleep and almost emotionless. To try and counter this he spends his time pretending to be ill at various cancer support groups which he believes helps his situation. This might sound odd but then loads of people fake illnesses. It's just that most of them do it to claim benefits and not because they like the cushiony comfort of MeatLoaf’s fat tits.

If I had a tumour, I would name it 'Marla'.
This little system seems to be working for a while until it's ruined by the arrival of two people. Firstly there's Marla Singer who is a deranged, rape-victim looking woman that has started visiting the same therapy groups as him. From her appearance it's possible that she may also be the lead singer of The Cure, though it’s never mentioned in the film. Then there's Tyler Durden, a soap making nutcase that seems to see through the bullshit of society. Like Pee Wee Herman and Fred Willard, Durden's hobby also seems to include exposing innocent cinema goers to a brief flash of cock.

"Arbeit macht frei"
Through some random events that involve the everyday occurrence of an exploding fridge, Ed Norton and Tyler Durden start an underground Fight Club. This whole movement begins when the two men wonder, “How much can you really know about yourself if you've never been in a fight”. ‘That you're at least civilised’ would probably be the obvious answer to that. I've never been in a real physical fight but I did once do the British equivalent which is writing a very sternly worded letter to Sayers the Bakers. They might just sell pies and sausage rolls but they're also bastards and fascists and I urge you all to boycott those ignorant fucktards.

So anyway word gets out about these secret fighting sessions with the concept starting to spread. It turns out that we men are the stereotypes that had always been assumed, and we actually love nothing more than smacking the actual crap out of someone. At the start of the meeting, Tyler Durden delivers a speech in which he lists the rules in what was once a fairly cool scene. It's kind of been ruined for me now though because someone once told me to mentally replace the word, “fight”, with the word, “wank”. With this in mind I can never take them seriously past rule number three, “If someone says "stop" or goes limp, taps out, the fight is over”.

From here on out things get even more strange. Their basement brawls evolve into some prankster revolution as though a corporation-hating Che Guevara accidentally watched too many episodes of Jackass. As Durden becomes more obsessed with his mission of improving peoples lives through self-destruction the repeated message becomes, "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything”. If that's true then those starving Africans don't know how lucky they are. Sure they might be dying of AIDs but so was Freddie Mercury-- at least they haven't got all his money holding them back as well. 

"I want you to hit me as hard as you can."
The key to loving Fight Club beyond simply being male is to quickly understand that it's actually a black comedy. Like my younger self, anybody going in hoping for the bargain budget version of The Warrior is going to be very confused. With its laugh-out-loud moments, themes of anarchy and frequent flourishes of surrealism, it's more like a Monty Python film than it is a Rocky of the basement. Sure Tyler Durden might be the messiah for those fighting the impotence of masculinity but considering he also pisses in soup bowls there's a chance that he could also just be a very naughty boy. Also as I’m sure everybody knows, a black comedy is simply one which deals humourlessly with the darker more taboo subjects. I shouldn't have to clarify that, but in the second year of my movie related degree course a fellow student actually had to ask if an example of a black comedy might be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

So beyond loving the story, humour and characters, it goes without saying that Fincher brilliantly directed the shit out of this. He's known for his extravagant camera movements and so it's nice to see Fight Club start as he means to go on. The first few minutes of the film follows a path through the inside of Ed Norton's brain, out of his forehead, down his nose and then up the barrel of a gun that he's inconveniently deep throating. I guess we should be grateful that for this scene, Ed Norton was cast and not Paris Hilton. Firstly this five minute mind journey would have been a hell of a lot shorter and secondly she'd probably revert to auto-pilot and just start sucking off the gun. As it stands though, these titles are long enough to give us our first taster of the soundtrack. Composed by the Dust Brothers it's got a brilliantly raw and grungy feel to it that perfectly matches the tone of the film. Not that I have any idea who the Dust Brothers are by the way. They sound like they might be a couple of cool, streetwise, ghetto style musicians but from the name they could just as easily be two disillusioned old English Butlers. Regardless of how great a job they did, I will be disappointed if it turns out not to be the latter.

I won't mention the revelation at the end, although if you don't know what it is by now then you really need to stop living under that rock. Having said that, it's worth noting just because of how it highlights the brilliance of Helena Bonham Carter’s performance. On first viewing she seems to be one of the most deranged women on the planet. However after seeing the ending, her actions actually make quite a lot of sense and she's not as random as you might initially assume. I mean, she's still fucking mental but that obviously can't be helped. She's played by the mother of Tim Burton’s children and belongs to the crazier half of our species, so Marla was never going to be completely normal.

Fight Club- Female Edition:
You are the money in your bank account.
As is probably obvious by now, this is clearly one of my favourite films. I'm not saying that everybody should live their life according to the terms of the slightly fascist Project Mayhem, but it can't hurt to occasionally question our position in life. The movie might look violent and horrible but at heart it's just about people coming to terms with realising their dreams. Whether it's becoming a vet, building a house or accepting that you're really just that actor from Red Dragon, the movie’s aim is simply to remind you not to waste your life. Whenever I find myself tossing off more than five times a day, I force myself to watch Fight Club as a reminder that there must be something more useful I could be doing. Considering how focused on penetrating the male psyche this film is, I'd actually be quite curious as to what a female would make of it. I suppose at the end of the day, we are all the same decaying organic matter as everything else. Can women relate to this movie just as easily or does it provide any insight into how males think? Do our fears of knowing the word ‘duvet’ mean anything or are we just presented as petulant children trying stubbornly to fight against the rules? Feel free to send your answers in on a postcard, or more conveniently the comments section just below. In the meantime, I'm going to punch my best friend in the ear and destroy some corporate art. After all, we've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off. 

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21 January 2013

Heaven Knows Les Miserables Now

I might not know any French people and I've never been to France but because I'm British, I just know I can't stand them. I'm actually not into this whole ‘national pride’ thing. I don't like our Royal Family and when I see the Union Jack blowing in the wind, all I notice is the traditionally crappy weather. However I do still live here and I suppose we've all got to do our bit. If I have to display any British patriotism then an ignorant and arbitrary disliking of the arrogant French is the one I'll go for! I was forced to learn their language in school and so did my best to remain as dumb to it as possible. As I'd walk towards those classrooms, I'd find myself suddenly surrounded by their flags and photographs of Paris as though I'd accidentally entered the French fucking Embassy. People say they have a beautiful language but they don't- it just sounds gormless and as though they're constantly about to puke. Every word they say starts with a 'blurgh' noise which isn't surprising thanks to the shite they eat. I genuinely think horse racing is an abhorrent sport due to the unnecessary injuries and deaths of the animals involved, however where I see a tragedy, the French see a running buffet. Not only can they eat the horse but they can keep its hooves as a frog-squishing tool for dessert. It might be a cliché to joke about the weird shit that they eat but sod it, it's saving time.  I could start moaning about their pathetic surrender of Paris back in 1940 but I'd hate to genuinely risk hurting the feelings of a valued member of The Big Four'.

So with all that in mind, this week I ended up seeing Tom Hooper's adaptation of Les Miserables. For anybody who doesn't know, it's basically a musical about a bunch of 19th century, dirty, depressed, fucking losers who didn't get the best start in life. So it's about your average French person then. The film begins with Hugh Jackman serving his last day in custody under the watchful guise of Russell Crowe. It turns out that Jackman has been imprisoned for nineteen years after stealing a loaf of bread and Crowe has become all fascist and started deep throating the veiny shaft of the law. It turns out that the ex-Gladiator has no tolerance for anyone caught doing anything illegal whilst conveniently forgetting the time he twatted a hotel employee with a telephone. In general, I find Russell Crowe to be a hard chap to judge because on the one hand he's quite rough looking but on the other he writes poetry. It's almost as though he'd be a great bloke to chat to down the pub if he wasn't such a pretentious arsehole. Not that it matters as I'm yet to see a film of his that I didn't enjoy and that includes 2010's Robin Hood: Where The Fuck Am I From?

"Mother warned me about getting into cars with strange men"
Anyway, so Jackman is released from prison but fails to stick to the terms of his parole. Apparently nineteen years of hard labour actually isn't enough to teach this thieving fucker right from wrong. Instead he goes on the run and becomes a well liked businessman who owns a factory that employs Anne Hathaway and a gang of pain in the arse bitches. Sadly though, the mass of screeching tarts are in the majority and very jealous of Batman's latest gimped-up squeeze. To teach her a lesson for being so good looking, they have her fired on the grounds that she's a single Mum. As you can tell, the French are a sympathetic people. Anyway, so the newly unemployed Catwoman takes a step-down off the career ladder which naturally leads to the inevitability of prostitution. I guess the morale is that you don't need A-Levels to earn a wage so long as you've got a semi-workable minge. The last bit of this paragraph is a spoiler, so if you've not seen the film, skip to the next one now... Anyway so despite jobs being scarce Hathaway refuses to fucking smile making her a very ungrateful slice of hump meat. Not that it matters I guess seems as her career is cut embarrassingly short when she randomly decides to die. I'm not sure what kills her because it just kind of happens so I'll assume that she simply died of ‘whore’.

Because of Jackman's involvement in turning Catwoman into a frowning clunge dispenser, he vows to take care of her child. From what I hear, parenting isn't easy but I imagine it's made even harder when you're a convict on the run from Crowe's obsessed Romper Stomper. Also for the record I really think the way Jackman talks to the young girl is hugely inappropriate. He meets the child whilst she's fetching water alone in the woods and the first thing he asks her is if she needs any help with her bucket. I guess he just presumes that it's a case of ‘like-mother, like-daughter’. So, basically the film from here just follows Jackman and the little girl over the years as they spend it on the run. Meanwhile even the French are getting sick of themselves and so attempt to start a revolution. If I have to watch a film set in France then I guess the only way I'll enjoy it is if they all sound like cockneys and conclude the story by shooting the living shit out of each other. As a result, I did thoroughly enjoy Les Miserables.

"I dreamed a dream in time gone by..."
Although it's probably obvious from my outburst of unjustified racism in the first paragraph, I had never previously seen any version of this story. I obviously knew it was going to be a musical but what did surprise me was just how much of the film is sung. Whereas most musicals I've seen would punctuate their warbling's with some spoken chitter chatter, Les Mis is pretty much non-stop bellowing throughout. Everybody delivers their lines to a tune and generally at the top of their lungs as though this is the missing link between performing an operatic ballad and a Fiddy Diddy rap. Unfortunately though this constant bursting into song is too easy to take the piss out of with knob-heads everywhere claiming that because people don't do that in real life it's unbelievable and stupid. However this is a bollocks thing to say because firstly; we're not watching real life and secondly, people do perform impromptu tunes to express themselves all the time. I've seen loads of people singing made up songs about their emotions whilst walking down the street they just tend to be either nutters, tramps or bladdered. If The Invention of Lying takes place in an alternate world where everybody has to tell the truth, then just imagine that this film takes place in an alternate world where everybody is a fucking loud, self-centred attention seeker... a distant, lonely world called France.

Speaking of the songs, I did really quite enjoy them although I think it'll be more fun on second viewing now that they're a little more familiar. Since watching the film I actually can't get their version of 'One day more' out of my head. I don't know if constantly humming musicals is the first sign of turning gay but if a mate invites me to go camping on a mountain I might turn it down just to be on the safe side. It goes without saying that the cast are all pretty good at hitting the right notes with only one or two exceptions. Eddie Redmayne, who is the toff that looks like a lesbian, sounded a bit odd- as though he was literally singing out of his nose. But even if he was like a Whale trying to attract a mate, that didn't quite compare to whatever Russell Crowe was doing. It's not that Crowe was bad, it's just that he's clearly not in the same ball park as anybody else here. From what I know, someone like Hugh Jackman is very experienced in musical theatre whereas Crowe is in a band called '30 Odd Foot Of Grunts' which kind of tells you all you need to know. So it's not that he can't sing it's just that when he does, it sounds a bit like somebodies just kicked Bono up the arse and then killed an African in front of him.
FAB Javert

However hitting the right notes really isn't as important to this film as having the cast deliver the emotion. People keep banging on about how the singing was recorded live on set which was impressive at first but I've heard about it so much now that I just don't care. However the transition into song was much smoother when done this way. By sheer coincidence, I recently saw Rock of Ages and the dubbing in that was so bloody awful that it was like listening to people who have only read about music but never experienced it. Beyond anything else, they'd been proper auto-tuned into oblivion with one character actually sounding like one of the fucking Chipmunks. So in contrast, I really didn't mind Crowe doing his pub-band thing. In fact he was probably my favourite character because firstly; I like it when he's in hard bastard mode and secondly, I liked his Thunderbirds fancy dress costume at the start.

Story wise, this was clearly quite the epic with it spreading over several decades however the only real constant to it was Crowe chasing Jackman. As such, the whole world was made to seem rather small with the same two people bumping into one another over and over again. Not just those two, but Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter had a bizarre habit of just turning up too. Either this film relied a lot on coincidence, that country is a lot smaller than I thought it'd be or Hugh Jackman is really lazy with how far he'll go to hide. Although, speaking of SBC and HBC I'm not saying that they weren't brilliant but they were clearly out of place and from a different film. For the most part, Les Miserables looked like it was from the director of The Kings Speech but then every so often we were randomly treated to deleted scenes from Sweeney Todd. Even the set those two lived in was suitably gothic and Burton-esque with so many holes in the walls that it was like a pervert’s paradise.

"You complete me!"
So like I say, I did genuinely enjoy this film but if there's one thing that really bugged me, it was just how quickly the characters of Marius and Cosette fell in love. All they did was glance at each other and suddenly they were head-over-heels. I know those deluded types who believe in it won't pay any attention, but the concept of love at first sight is clearly complete bullshit. The only way people can fall in love that quickly is if one of them is tied up with their ear cut off and Stockholm syndrome quickly starts to kick in. Also the film was really, really long. I didn't get bored or anything but there were a few false ends where I thought it was about to start winding down. The most obvious one was probably when the projector fucked up and everything just cut to black for like five minutes. It was worth it though just for the moment when a man returned from the toilet to discover the film had restarted. Because he briefly blocked the screen, an oldish sounding woman behind proper hissed at him to “Ssssssit down!” I know that's nothing to do with the film but knowing the evil gypsy from Drag Me to Hell was in the same audience really added to the experience.

Speaking of the screening that I was at, there was a box of tissues available to the audience on the way in. I was told that this film was going to be a weepy but I can honestly say it didn't upset me once. I'm not trying to sound like one of those knob-heads who laddishly claims to be devoid of emotion and I'm happy to admit crying during films in the past. I was balling my eyes out during Transformers 3 but only because I was ashamed of myself for paying to see it. In the end though the free tissues were certainly useful if not for the heartache then definitely the few scenes in which Anne Hathaway became a prostitute. Just because her character wasn't having a good time doesn't mean I can't. In fact I would say her performance was so good that I could continue masturbating even while I was being reminded of the existence of Susan Boyle.

"Five hours of photoshopping and puss holes are barely visible"
So yeah, all-in-all it was a good film. Good songs, strong performances and nice images of my least favourite nation tearing itself apart. I'm not sure what the title Les Miserables is referring to but I assume it's probably just that gut feeling you get whenever you hear their sickly, French accent.
After both this and The Kings Speech, director Tom Hooper is really doing well to keep me as a fan. I hate the Royal Family and as you've by now probably gathered, I don't have much love for our snotty, froggy cousins. If he continues this trend of using things I can't stand as the primary subject then I look forward to his next film which will presumably be a biopic of Piers Morgan. I don't know what it might be called- not because I can't think of anything, but because I think somebody already owns the rights to The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

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14 January 2013

Do Fish Have Dreams?

Nicholas Cage is an actor of extremes. Boringly there are his 'done it for the money' films such as National Treasure, in which he plays an adventurer so dull that the story is simply a quest for his own charisma, but then on the other hand he's also done stuff like Wild at Heart and Raising Arizona which are excitingly the performances of a shameless mental. These are the ones in which you assume that before arriving on set, he must have suffered an extreme blow to the head or had some unknown class-A drug injected straight into his spine. I guess a recent example of a role in which he's obviously fucking nuts would be Kick-Ass. In that film he played a retarded version of Batman who likes to shoot guns at his daughter and then reward her with a birthday knife. He also decided to perform the role whilst speaking with a voice that Adam West might have if he had a stroke and then started haemorrhaging brain-fluid out of his ears.

Whenever I see Cash-in-Cage I just want to walk the horse-faced dullard straight to the glue factory to put him out of my misery. When he forgets to medicate however, Deranged-Cage is one of the most interesting, unpredictable and brilliant actors currently allowed to work. It was therefore with some excitement that I decided to watch Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans.

The opening shot of the film is of a snake as it swims through a severely flooded prison. Eventually it reaches a cell which contains a prisoner still locked in and struggling to stay above the surface.
I'm assuming something has gone seriously wrong and this wasn't his court ordered punishment. Drowning in a giant, shitty fish bowl is something that should only be reserved for the worst of people and this man doesn't look much like Josef Fritzl, The Yorkshire Ripper or Piers Morgan. 

Valerie used to be attractive before she became a fat man.
Luckily though, help is at hand as two of New Orleans’ finest walk in to presumably save the day. Unfortunately for the drowning wrong doer, they are a Crazy-Cage and everyone’s favourite, fat transsexual, Valerie Kilmer. Now it was my understanding that the police are contractually obliged to help people who are in trouble. It therefore seemed slightly against regulation when these two instead decide to just take bets on how long it will take the prisoner to drown. I suppose it's possible that they'd had a long shift so we probably shouldn't judge them too harshly for playing games to pass the time. Having said that though, Crazy-Cage has a change of heart and kindly decides to intervene. He jumps into the watery shit, saves the prisoner, injures himself and now has to live the rest of his life with agonising back pain. I suppose the message of this is that if anybody ever needs your help then you should tell them to go fuck themselves. That's what I've been doing since, anyway.

In a way, this opening scene perfectly encapsulates a lot of what is important about the rest of the film. The flooded prison is a result of hurricane Katrina, it has a twisted sense of morality and there is a crime witnessed by a reptile. For some reason the movie is littered with Crocodiles, lizards and snakes all silently watching us humans from the sidelines. Either I need to watch The Departed again or a judgemental alligator is an unconventional inclusion to the cop genre. In fact there's not much about this film that does conform to the traditional rules of a crime-thriller. Not unless one of those rules is to have the lead detective stoned off his tits and watching the soul of a dead man break dance across the room. If movies could shag, then this one would definitely be the bastard offspring of The French Connection and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That's also coincidentally exactly how good it is.

From this point on, the film tangents around several different strands of story: Cage begins investigating a mass-murder, raising money to solve his gambling debts and solving the escalating troubles of his girlfriend, Eva Mendes. All of which really just involve a self-medicated Cage drugged up to the eye balls, shouting, screaming and basically being hilarious. This might be a crime movie that looks at the lowest depth of evil that a person can sink to, but that doesn't mean it can't be fucking funny too. When Cage starts an interrogation of two innocent old ladies by hiding behind a door and shaving, you know this isn't going to be by the book. Cut to three seconds later and he's pulled out one’s oxygen tubes, is waving a gun at the other and getting angry at their long life, being the cause of America’s economic problems.

Human or spud? Either way, he's a useless fat vegetable.
Despite all this constant cuntish behaviour though, somehow Cage always seems fairly likeable. This is probably because things are also going very wrong for him and so in a way it's kind of hard not to sympathise. He might be violent, addicted to drugs and massively mental but at times he does seem genuinely vulnerable and capable of showing some heart. He worries about his Dad who is a recovering alcoholic and he does his best to look out for his girlfriend - having said that though, if my girlfriend was Eva Mendes then I too would probably be a little protective. I guess the only downside to her here is that despite being stupidly good-looking she also happens to be a whore. Not sure if I could actually go out with a prostitute but my gut instinct is certainly suggesting that I'm not above it. The point that I'm trying to make is that Cage's character is not that bad, he just keeps fucking up. A more apt title for the film would probably be The Unfortunate Lieutenant. Or at least it would be if that alternate title didn't make it sound like some crap, committee written comedy that would probably star Kevin James's fat potato of a head.
In actual fact a more apt title for this would just be Port of Call - New Orleans. The original Bad Lieutenant was released in 1992 and featured a guilt laden Harvey Keitel spending more time than I appreciated walking around with his old balls out. In that version he was tasked with solving your standard, everyday Nun rape case. The original was a catholic’s wet dream with lots of sin and lots of repentance. There might not have been too much plot but at least there was plenty to feel bad about. Beyond the fact that both Keitel and Cage's Lieutenants take drugs, have loose morals and look like famous actors, the two films are completely different. I can therefore only assume that the title was either a marketing tool or simply a way for director Werner Herzog to piss off the original’s creator Abel Ferrara. If so then I guess it was a mission success as Ferrara went on record to state, “As far as remakes go ... I wish these people die in Hell”. Although, when asked for a comment, I personally enjoyed Herzog's enjoyably dismissive response of, "I've never seen a film by him. I have no idea who he is." 

Here we see Herzog bonding with the cast.
Now it goes without saying that Herzog is a genius and one of the most interesting people working in film. He's a brilliant director and has made some of the most mental movies of all time. Back in 1982 he made the masterpiece Fitzcarraldo in which he took a film crew to the heart of the jungle and filmed them literally drag a boat up the side of a mountain. He's a man who is more than happy to go to the extremes to get the job done. In the same way that Cage is more than happy to risk making a tit of himself for a film, Herzog is more than willing to risk his life. In the past, Herzog's muse was the bat-shit lunatic Klaus Kinski and so in a way you have to wonder how it's taken so long for him and Cage to get together. Cage plays people who are just as mental but unlike Kinski, is unlikely to need a gun aimed at his head to keep him on set. Herzog once claimed to point a rifle at Kinski and state, “You leave this jungle now and you'll find eight bullets in you and the ninth one will be for me”. We can only live in hope that Michael Bay and a stubbornly rebellious Danny Dyer one day make the same deal...

It's been suggested that Bad Lieutenant is one of Herzog's less substantial films but I disagree.
Some of his most regular themes seem to be regarding the violence, chaos and madness of life. Let's not forget this is the man who made a penguin documentary in which he asked the expert, “Is there such thing as insanity among penguins?” Those three themes all seems present and here to me. They're encompassed in Cage’s character, the story and the landscape. What therefore surprises is how this movie about self-destruction ends up being such a feel good story.

I don't want to ruin the end of the film so I won't reveal what happens, but just because it's uplifting that doesn't mean it ends happily, instead it's more that everything before hand has been so grimly crap. People wrongly claim Mamma Mia to be a feel good film which for me just isn't true. To me a feel good film isn't one in which nice things happen for two hours but rather horrible things do with the odd ray of hope to bask in. Admittedly Mamma Mia does place us under constant threat from Pierce Brosnan's tuneless warbling, but really that's simply not enough, although having said that, his singing is still pretty fucking horrific. Despite all those crazy weapons that Q invented to help save the world, it turns out all Brosnan's Bond needed was some background music and a megaphone.

"Take a chance on me."
Anyway so the story development, dialogue, performance and music in the last scene of this Bad Lieutenant are all actually perfect. Seeing a minor positive in a junkie policeman’s life makes me feel more warm inside than hearing a slutty Margaret Thatcher belting out Abba's greatest hits. Again, I don't want to ruin the end but you can't help but wonder what the concluding moral is. It genuinely seems to be that a Hell of a lot of wrongs can make a right.

According to critics, this is Herzog's take on a mainstream movie. If that's the case then a lot of mainstream movies could do with following his lead. As far as I'm concerned, Cage too can do whatever the Hell he likes. If he wants to spend the majority of his time cashing in then fine, just so long as he brings out something as mad as this every couple of years too. It'd be nice to see the two work on something again in the future. Any director/actor pairings that can produce a crime-thriller in which the drugged up lead is distracted by the invisible lizards in his head can only be a good thing.

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