Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I am just blown away by this news. Floored to be honest. Variety is reporting that crazy filmmaker Werner Herzog (GRIZZLY MAN, AGUIRRE THE WRATH OF GOD) is remaking Abel Ferrara's masterpiece BAD LIEUTENANT with Nic Cage taking over the role made famous by Harvey Keitel in the original film. Here's Variety's story:

"Nicolas Cage will star in an updated version of 1992's "Bad Lieutenant" with Werner Herzog directing, Edward R. Pressman producing and Avi Lerner's Nu Image/Millenium Films financing. Project, also called "Bad Lieutenant," is due to be announced at Cannes. Production will start in late summer. The original pic, also produced by Pressman, starred Harvey Keitel and was directed by Abel Ferrara from a screenplay by Ferrara and Zoe Lund. That pic received an NC-17 rating with the depraved title character heavily involved in drugs, gambling, sex and stealing while a New York police officer. The new script's penned by Billy Finkelstein, a TV writer with credits on "Murder One," "Law & Order" and "NYPD Blue." Stephen Belafonte, who brought Finkelstein to the project, is also producing while development was financed by producers Alan and Gabe Polsky. Along with Lerner, Nu Image/Millennium's Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short and Boaz Davidson will exec produce along with Elliot Rosenblatt, Alessandro Camon and Randall Emmet. Cage's Saturn Films is also producing. Cage is currently filming "Knowing" in Australia for director Alex Proyas. Herzog's expected to follow "The Bad Lieutenant" with "The Piano Tuner" for Focus in late 2008."

I don't know what to think about this development. Lots of mixed feelings here. I'll start by saying that I've never seen a Herzog film that I didn't think was worthy of four stars or that I didn't find interesting and/or brilliant on at least one level. The man is a genius, a specific type of genius, and simply put, there's nobody quite like him in the world of cinema. The idea of Herzog tackling a remake, especially a remake along the lines of BAD LIEUTENANT, is almost too weird for words; I didn't even know that Herzog knew what the word "remake" meant. This is about as far-removed of a project as he's ever committed too. I have complete faith that he'll turn out an excellent film, however, this is all just too strange for me to fully process at this point.
Cage, one of my all-time favorites, has been alternating between amazing performances in terrific films and horrendous performances in cheesy films throughout his entire career. His fantastic work in films such as LEAVING LAS VEGAS, ADAPTATION, MATCHSTICK MEN, LORD OF WAR, THE WEATHER MAN, THE ROCK, MOONSTRUCK, BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, RAISING ARIZONA, RED ROCK WEST, FACE/OFF, WORLD TRADE CENTER, and WILD AT HEART is proof that there is an amazing artist inside of him. It's just a shame that recent performances in shitfests such as THE WICKER MAN, GHOST RIDER, and NEXT have tainted his reputation. When the material is right, there's nobody better for the role than Cage. But when he hams it up, look out -- the results are laughable. As for him stepping into Keitel's shoes, well, all I will say is that he'll have his work cut out for him. Keitel gave one of the most intense, most searing performances that I've ever seen in the original BAD LIEUTENANT.
However, one thing that is deeply troubling about this project is who is producing it. Avi Lerner, a producer based out of Europe, is one of the biggest hacks to ever get involved with the motion picture business. Seriously. Just look at his credits: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0503592/
It's more or less one piece of shit after another. This scares me, as Herzog is the sort of filmmaker who doesn't get a lot of high-profile projects thrown his way; does he view this as a strictly "gun-for-hire" project, a grab-the-cash job so that he can finance another one of his amazing documentaries? The writer attached to the project does have a nifty background writing numerous cop shows for the small-screen, so maybe the project will have some juice...or maybe not....
This could either be a grand slam or a complete swing-and-miss...only time will tell. Personally, I wanted to see THE PIANO TUNER first, but if Herzog's gotta do one picture before that one, well, I won't complain; it just means that there will be a new Herzog film out sooner than later.

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