An Evening with Werner Herzog

Last April Werner Herzog sat down for a 2 hour chat with author and essayist, Pico Iyer at UC Santa Barbara.

It is a wideranging discussion and as you might expect is filled with lots of classic Herzogian anecdotes.

> Roger Ebert Time profile on Herzog
> Werner Herzog at Wikipedia

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

Blu-ray: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Werner Herzog’s brilliantly surreal remake (or is it?) of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film is relocated to New Orleans where a corrupt, drug addled cop (Nicolas Cage) finds himself involved with a drug dealer (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) who is suspected of murdering a family of African immigrants.

On top of this he struggles to keep his life in check, which includes his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes); his hot-headed partner (Val Kilmer); a local bookie (Brad Dourif) and all manner of surreal visions.

This sounds like it could be the premise of a conventional crime movie and there are elements of William Finkelstein’s script that bear the hallmarks of the traditional cop procedural. But filtered through the lens of Herzog, we have something different altogether.

As the story progresses Cage’s character takes gargantuan amounts of drugs (coke, heroin, crack), shakes down clubbers and then screws their girlfriends in front of them, runs up huge debts, threatens old age pensioners and does all this wearing an oversize suit with a funny looking revolver.

But this only scratches the surface, as Herzog adds some wildly surreal touches involving iguanas and alligators shot in extreme hand held close-up, whacky interludes involving dogs, horny traffic cops and hilariously over the top dialogue delivered by Cage in a couple of different accents (my favourite lines being “‘Shoot him again! His soul is still dancing!” and “to the break of DAWNNNN!!!!”).

Strange, out of control and defiantly off its head, it seems destined for cult status: appealing to cinephiles and late night stoner audiences.

When I first saw it last year I was unsure if it was a crazy joke or surreal genius. Having seen it again I’m sure it is the latter.

Not only does Herzog filter the material through his own unique mind, but Cage arguably gives his greatest performance in years, which is wild and out of control in all the best ways.

The Blu-ray transfer is crisp and sharp – in many ways a better experience than the print I originally saw it on – and in HD one can really appreciate the visual mood created by Herzog and his regular DOP Peter Zeitlinger.

The extras include interviews with the cast and key crew as well as a substantial 30 minute making of featurette which goes behind certain sequences, interviewing the key talent.

Most of it consists of Herzog setting up shots, discussing his creative process and we also get some interesting contributions from the cast and crew.

In years people will wonder how one of Europe’s greatest arthouse directors ended up making a film with Nicolas Cage in New Orleans, but they will be grateful for what is a unusually memorable collaboration.

> Buy Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans on Blu-ray and DVD
> Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans at IMDb

Amusing Animation

When Werner Herzog Rescued Joaquin Phoenix

Sacha Ciezata has created a neat animated short depicting the time when director Werner Herzog rescued Joaquin Phoenix from a car crash.

Using the audio from a recent press Q&A for My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?, it also references the bearded version of Joaquin Phoenix from I’m Still Here, even though the incident took place back in 2006.

For some reason, which I can’t fully explain, my favourite bit is when Herzog ‘confiscates’ the cigarette lighter.

> Werner Herzog
> The Guardian report from 2006 on the incident

Amusing Viral Video

Nicolas Cage on crack

This viral video for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is actually quite a good taster of the film’s gleeful insanity.

I love the fact that it directs you to a site called

Read my full thoughts on the film here.

N.B. If Cage’s lawyers are reading this, the title of the post clearly refers to his character in the film being on crack. Happy? Good.


Trailer: Bad Lieutenant

Try and figure out if this early trailer for Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant (subtitled Port of Call New Orleans) is a comedy or straightforward remake.

> Bad Lieutenant at the IMDb
> Werner Herzog at Wikipedia