FITZCARRALDO
1982, Werner Herzog Film, 158 min, West Germany/Peru, Dir: Werner Herzog

Rubber baron and music fanatic Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) journeys down the darkest byways of the Amazon to build an opera house at the rainforest’s heart. Like his title character, director Werner Herzog reaches an ambitious pinnacle of achievement here – the staggeringly impossible odds that seem to weigh against Fitzcarraldo ever reaching his goal were mirrored by Herzog’s own attempts to complete the film (which were chronicled in Les Blank’s astonishing documentary BURDEN OF DREAMS). Co-starring a ravishing Claudia Cardinale as Fitzcarraldo’s strong, outspoken paramour who believes in him. A must-see!


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.


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