Monday, September 29, 2008

Werner Herzog and Nicholas Cage Making New Bad Lieutenant?

I can't make this stuff up. Werner Herzog is directing a new version of the Bad Lieutenant(made famous by Harvey Keitel's jarring performance). This new film will undoubtedly be a drastic divergence from the previous film, being set in Post-Katrina New Orleans. I'm excited to see his take on this unique environment.
The film is titled Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. It is being written by William M. Finkelstein, a television writer/producer. The cast is an odd hodgepodge of actors and actresses which includes such people as Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Fairuza Balk and even Xzibit. This is going to be an odd ride.
Herzog has attained some of the recognition he deserves, and finally, mainstream talent has sought out his projects. Even though the original director, Abel Ferrara, is furious about the project.
As far as remakes go, Harvey begged me not to say anything mean, or stupid. [pause] But I wish these people die in Hell. I hope they're all in the same streetcar, and it blows up."

Herzog responded:
So, yes or no: Is Bad Lieutenant a project you're working on with Nicolas Cage?
Yes, but its not a remake. It's like, for example, you wouldn't call a new James Bond movie a remake of the previous one — although the name of the bad lieutenant is a different one, and the story is completely different. It's very interesting because Nicolas Cage really wants to work with me, and just anticipating working with an actor of his caliber is just wonderful.
Why this project, though? You could have worked on anything.
There's an interesting screenplay; it's a very, very dark story. It's great because it seems to reflect a side of the collective psyche — sometimes there are just good times for film noir. They don't come out of nowhere. There was some sort of a mysterious context with the understanding of people in that particular time. And it's going to be in New Orleans, which is a fascinating place. Part of it was the decision of the producers for tax incentives — which is totally legitimate. However, I thought to myself: "We have seen a lot of New York in movies; we have not seen New Orleans in feature films." Or very few feature films. After Katrina it's a particularly interesting set-up. The neglect and politics after the hurricane struck are something quite amazing. It has to do with public morality.
Speaking of which, the original film's director, Abel Ferrara, has vowed to fight this project, and —
Wonderful, yes! Let him fight! He thinks I'm doing a remake.
Have you talked to him?
No. I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills, like Don Quixote.
Have you heard his comments at all? He says he hopes "these people die in Hell."
That's beautiful!
Do you relate to that passion?
No, because it's like theater thunder. It's like being backstage in the 19th century, with the machines that make thunder. It has nothing do with with his film. But let him rave and rant; it's good music in the background.

I've gotta side with Herzog on this one. Abel Ferrara is talking out his ass, and is probably just pissy that he isn't involved in the project. And, by the way, Ferrara had remade other people films before(check out his crappy remake of the Sci-Fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Another case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Short Interview with Werner Herzog

Here is a short clip of Werner Herzog discussing his early life. He lived in a relatively remote part of Bavaria due to the bombings of WWII, and was insulated from much of the aspects of modern culture that we've become accustomed to. Due to his seclusion from Cinema, he was forced to learn to make films without the comprehensive film knowledge most people in cities grow up inundated with.
They touch on one aspect of any great auteur, after 5 seconds of watching any of their films, you automatically know that you are seeing a Herzog film.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Werner Herzog - Letzte Worte "Last Words" (1968)

This is an early short film by Werner Herzog called Letzte Worte or "Last Words".
If anyone has a link to a translation of the text, I would appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Interview with Henry Rollins

This is an interview of Werner Herzog on Youtube from Henry Rollins' tv show that might give newcomers a glimpse of his attitude towards life, and his work. This was taped right after Grizzly Man had been overlooked in Academy award nominations for Best Documentary. Herzog discusses recognition by the studio systems, and explains success in terms of the enthusiasm in audiences viewing his work. The discussion shifts to one of my favorite themes in Herzog's films, ecstatic truth. That glimpse at illumination, that poetic, abstract elusive insight that art can give us when communicating that which is closest to our experience. Herzog then discusses shifting trends in our perceptions of reality including virtual reality, CGI, etc. Articulation of a reality in new terms that can enhance our perspectives in the world. Herzog hopes we are moving beyond Cinema Verite or Direct Cinema, and the illusion that we are capturing reality. For Herzog, these genre's proclaiming to record situations accurately, are nothing more than accountant's truths. Facts do not create truth/illumination. He considers Fitzcarraldo his best documentary, even though the film was completely scripted. Rollins asks him about how studio systems view the viability of his projects The discussions ends with a recounting of being shot during an interview with the BBC. A neat interview altogether.

Werner Herzog Is My Hero

Werner Herzog is one of the most under-appreciated filmmakers of all time. His dynamic filmography has explored a huge range of topics using some of the most provocative images and sounds ever experienced in cinema. From the depths of the Amazonian jungles, the tops of enormous mountains, to the burning oil fields of Kuwait, his landscapes come alive, and strike fierce emotion in his viewers. His casting choices include some of the most fantastic personas ever captures on celluloid. The passionate insanity of Klaus Kinsky brings alive characters like Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo. Their intense relationship fuels an intense performance the likes of which have yet to be seen. Herzog's filmmaking ability evokes strong compassion and understanding for the characters portrayed. In Land of Silence and Darkness we feel and intense connection with Fini, an amazing deaf and blind woman with a tragic, yet profoundly symbolic story. Herzog will stop at nothing to realize his visions, and I thank him for his dedication to his art.
Herzog Is My Hero will explore the films and ideas of this amazing man. I hope you join me in exploring the ideas and images of this brilliant filmmaker. I encourage you to give me feedback and let me know if there are any specific films or concepts you would like to explore with me.
-Joe McCraw