THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS
2009, Millennium Entertainment, 122 min, USA, Dir: Werner Herzog

No choir boy to begin with, cop Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) becomes addicted to painkillers after an on-duty injury and quickly descends into a mania of drug abuse and corruption in post-Katrina New Orleans. Not since Klaus Kinski has Herzog worked with an actor of such intensity, and costars Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer and Xzibit rise to the level of Cage’s mesmerizing performance. Ignore the “bad” title here (there’s little connection to the 1992 Abel Ferrara film) - PORT OF CALL is a wildly entertaining thrill ride, flecked with dark humor and bizarre flourishes.


DEATH ROW II
2013, Investigation Discovery, 208 min, USA, Dir: Werner Herzog

Director Werner Herzog continues the exploration of capital punishment that he began with 2011’s INTO THE ABYSS with four new, 52-minute documentaries profiling condemned inmates: PORTRAIT: DOUGLAS FELDMAN, PORTRAIT: ROBERT FRATTA, PORTRAIT: BLAINE MILAM and PORTRAIT: DARLIE ROUTIER. These case studies of convicts on death row powerfully examine the ethics of the death penalty and the humanity of the accused without resorting to easy answers or preaching. Herzog’s talent for observing eccentric behavior and his obsession with probing complex issues are both on triumphant display in this ambitious piece of cinematic moral inquiry.


AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD
AGUIRRE, DER ZORN GOTTES
1972, Werner Herzog Film, 93 min, Germany, Dir: Werner Herzog

Klaus Kinski is Aguirre, a power-hungry lunatic who leads a Spanish military expedition down the Amazon in hopes of finding El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. From the opening images of conquistadors snaking their way through the jungle, director Werner Herzog’s epic achieves a rare, operatic delirium. Laced with surreal humor - “Spears are getting longer this year,” notes one skewered soldier - AGUIRRE is the first of the great Kinski -Herzog collaborations (the two reportedly met when their families shared a house together in Munich). With Helena Rojo, Del Negro. “One of the great haunting visions of the cinema” – Roger Ebert. English language version.


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