Possibly the best thing about Werner Herzog doing his own Bad Lieutenant film (which got a poster today) is the fireworks that have erupted between he and Abel Ferrara, who directed the Harvey Keitel-starring film that Herzog hasn’t remade. Both directors are at the Venice Film Festival this week, where it wasn’t beyond possible that some sort of confrontation, or at least conversation would take place. (Ferrara once suggested Herzog and his cast should die in hell, and Herzog responded “Wonderful, yes! Let him fight…I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is.”)
There may not be a director alive who is as open to confrontation as Herzog, but who is also open to reconciliation. (This is the guy who pledged to eat his shoe if Errol Morris made a movie, and then did, on stage.) Now the Guardian reports that Herzog said at Venice that the two “should meet up soon over a bottle of whisky,” which is kind, but also less explosive than I was hoping for.
And, wait, what’s this noise about iguanas? Is this also Herzog’s mini-budget Godzilla homage? Potentially spoilerish details after the jump. Read More »
Last week it was announced that Keanu Reeves would star in Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Jekyll, the Justin Haythe-scripted modern day retelling of The Strange Case of Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Universal Pictures. Apparently there is another Jekyll and Hyde movie in development. King of New York/Bad Lutenant director Abel Ferrara is moving forward with his contemporary reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 classic novella.
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“Do we not have a bell?”
Too bad John McCain’s not a grizzled, old indie director. Zing. Wild and crazy guys, Werner Herzog (above) and Abel Ferrara (right), are exchanging heated words and grumpy disses in regard to Herzog’s 2009 remake of Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, with Nic Cage starring in the role once inhabited by Harvey Keitel. Whaaa happen? Well, Ferrara drew verbal first blood at Cannes by dreaming up a deranged hypothetical befitting a Slashfilm commenter’s luv for Brett Ratner…
“I wish these [Herzog and remake people] die in Hell. I hope they’re all in the same streetcar, and it blows up,” Ferrara told Spout.
As Ferrara said this, the hair in Don King’s ear twitched oh so slightly across the pond. This week Herzog responded to Ferrara’s fiery remarks with a “Who’s that?” battle strategy utilized by so many rap artists.
“Defamer: Have you talked to [Ferrara]?
Herzog: No. I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills, like Don Quixote. …I’ve never seen a film by him. I have no idea who he is. Is he Italian? Is he French? Who is he? …Maybe I could invite him to act in a movie! Except I don’t know what he looks like.”
Is “let him fight the windmills” the new “Nuke the Fridge”? Herzog also cops to not having viewed or even knowing much about the original film. In the past, Slashfilm and many of our readers have asked why this remake is needed. And it’s not the usual case of an exhausted, “Why Hollywood Whyyyy?!?” per se. Without question, Herzog is a talented guy (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn, Aguirre), but how would he feel if someone remade one of his more personal films like Fitzcarraldo without bothering to see it or check in with him? Bad Lieutenant is Ferrara’s signature film (alongside his awesome The King of New York); it just seems uncouth. But here is what drew Herzog to the material…
“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. …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.”
Switching the setting from the Rotten Apple to the Big Easy is intriguing to say the least, but that gives him even less reason to use the title; Ferrara’s is a cult classic, certainly, but the NC-17 flick’s name recognition amongst the mainstream is slight. Moreover, the title character’s name is different in the remake. The lone major link between the films is producer Edward R. Pressman. Who do you side with here? Herzog compares his film to a new actor taking over James Bond, but that doesn’t cut the mustard. I side with Ferrara, unless he goes through with real indie terrorism. Good exposure for all.
Discuss: Does Ferrara have a right to be aggro? Will this escalate? Do you have a fave director rivalry?
Did Slashfilm piss off the Ghost of April Fool’s Day? Topping off a day of odd movie announcements and rumors, Variety reports that director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Aguirre: Wrath of God) will helm a remake of Abel Ferrara’s NC-17 classic Bad Lieutenant starring Nicolas Cage in the title role, formerly inhabited, and fantastically so, by Harvey Keitel back in ’92. The remake is scheduled to begin filming late summer. Like Point Break 2, first word of this remake arrived last year and I believe that Ferrara himself was considering it.
For those who haven’t seen it (do so), Keitel starred as a corrupt New York cop strenuously spiraling into an abyss of narcotics, thievery, naked disorientation, and betting/losing his monies on Darryl Strawberry (the irony). Ferrara’s is one of my favorite depictions of New York in film, because the city’s garbage and vice seeps into Keitel’s character until he’s forced to flush it out and face the consequences. And it may sound sensational, but the movie’s recurring theme of faith is like a punch in the gut and quite effective.
Apparently, Herzog’s remake will update the time period and cop to post-9/11. Last year, FilmStalker parlayed that the script by TV writer/producer William M. Finkelstein (NYPD Blue, Murder One) contained the following plot points…
According to the story Finkelstein is bringing the character back to life with a backstory of drug addiction, the showing of his promotion to Sergeant, the drug related murders of five illegal immigrants and a name for the character. Other than that they say that the drugs, sex, stealing and gambling are still going to play a major part in the story.
Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a case of “who’s bad?” between ’92 NYC and ’00s NYC. That would make as much sense as remaking Larry Clark’s Kids in the present day. Respected producer Edward R. Pressman, who backed the original film, is on board again along with a long line-up of other producers including Stephen Belafonte and Nu Image/Millennium’s Danny Dimbort. I am a big fan of Herzog and dig/ignore a lot of Cage’s work, but I’m not yet convinced this will be anything other than a harder, more intimate version of Training Day.
Discuss: The talent involved strikes interest, but is an update needed? Who cares about debating whether Hollywood should remake the film, because they will remake anything, but do you personally think the times call for a new Bad Lieutenant, as it seems it will be heavy on commentary? I know we’ll get a lot of “well, it could be worse” below, but try to avoid that treaded route if you’ve seen the original. Add insight.