Friday, May 16, 2008

Please Tell Me I Am Hallucinating

Anyone who was around in the early days of this blog might remember this post, in which I stated my love and admiration for Abel Ferrara's beautifully bold 1992 masterpiece Bad Lieutenant, a movie in my eyes which is among the finest in all of American cinema. The film, which started out from an original script by Zoe Lund (something that isn't mentioned enough), remains one of the most memorable theatrical theater experiences I have ever had and one of the most spiritually enlightning works of art I have ever seen...comparable to Pasolini's The Gospel According To Saint Matthew (yea, I think Ferrara's film is that good.)
This morning I saw the news that Nicolas Cage was planning on remaking the film and I have to admit that disgust was the first thing that crossed my mind. Cage was at one point one of my favorite American actors. He was bold, original and daring but since his award winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas (another one of my favorite films) he has become a bit like Rod Stewart after 1977...a disappointing commercial property with only flashes of what made him great. I figured this latest remake news (wasn't the raping of The Wicker Man enough?) was just another in a long line of disappointing choices in Cage's career and nothing more.
Imagine my surprise though when I saw that it was none other than the great Werner Herzog set to direct the remake...and to be honest it made the news even more disappointing. I could deal with someone like a Brett Ratner signed on to do it as that is expected, but Werner Herzog? Seriously, I wish someone would slap me and tell me I was having a nightmare. I love Herzog and he has made some of my favorite films but the idea of someone touching the final collaboration between Ferrara and Lund just makes me sick.
I really hope this film falls through and doesn't happen. If it does I hope it fails and I don't like to wish ill on any production, especially one by Werner Herzog but I just can't stomach this. With Zoe Lund gone, Harvey Keitel stuck in straight to video hell and Abel Ferrara not able to get American distribution for his newest films (not to mention the fact that the theatrical version of Bad Lieutenant is unavailable in the States), the idea for this remake seems as spiritually bankrupt as the Bad Lieutenant himself was in the beginning of Abel's film.
I've seen nearly every film Werner Herzog has ever made and Anchor Bay's two box sets of his work occupy a special place in my collection but I will not see this film if it happens. The original work by Abel Ferrara is perfect and totally untouchable in my eyes...I just can't bear to see it tampered with anymore.


J.D. said...

Tell me about! Talk about your bizarro news of the day! One can only hope that Herzog will bring out Cage's pre-LEAVING LAS VEGAS nutzo acting tendencies. Ya never know. Rumor has it that Asia Argento has been approached to play the nun which is an inspired bit of casting.

But as you say, this is just a bad idea from the word go. Who knows, maybe this film will fall-through in pre-production or they won't get the financing.

Jeremy Richey said...

Wow, that bit about Asia makes it even more bizarre. She has been one of the most vocal supporters of Zoe Lund over the years and she's friends with Abel so her appearance would certainly make it more interesting...still this is a bad idea, the idea of remaking an Abel Ferrara film makes about as much since as remaking a Michael Mann shouldn't be done.

Thanks JD!

Steve Langton said...

BL is a masterpiece and a remake would be heresy. Cage should sort out his acting career, rather than chase down an untouchable film.

Rogue Spy 007 said...

This really ticks me off. Here's hoping this goes the way of many other projects that Cage is attached to. I keep remembering when he was going to play Superman. Yikes! Bad Lt. needs to be left alone. I love that film. Man, I need to watch it again. One of the best films in the last couple of decades.

J.D. said...

It seems like Cage makes a NATIONAL TREASURE film every so often just to justify a huge paycheck and prove to the studios that he can still rake in the moola. Too bad, he doesn't make any decent character-driven films anymore.

Altho, the faux Grindhouse trailer that he did with Rob Zombie gave me a glimmer of hope.

Neil Fulwood said...

Even more dispiriting than someone remaking Abel Ferrara's finest hour, even more dispiriting than Nic Cage attaching himself to yet another questionable project, is the possibility of Herzog helming it.

The man has ploughed his own furrow for his entire career - he's one of the few living directors who has a genuinely unique style. Why, why, why does such an iconoclastic director feel the need to appropriate someone else's material?

circusinthesky said...

This IS a bizarre concept. Actually, that anyone wants to take a swing at Bad Lt. at all is rather bizarre. It was, and still is, a perfect piece of cinema. But let's face it, 80% of the viewing public can't really handle that movie, so a remake or re-imagining (according to Herzog) seems like a very strange choice.

Having said that, I firmly believe that there are no sacred cows, so let fly. I mean, Harvey did a crap job in Life On Mars compared to the British cast, so fair is fair. What really interest me is that Cage WANTS to do this. The Lieutenant is just about the last character a guy should play if he wants to avoid alienating his Paycheck fans. It hints that some degree of artistic integrity may still lie behind those crazed eyes.