Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Bad Lieutenant (1992)
Eric Jessen 12/15/09
It's easy to spot a movie with prize-worthy realism by its painstakingly slow pace, one disturbing grunt-filled sex scene, and your almost certain boredom or unbearable discomfort.
Another feature of movies with pure realism is overly mechanical and deliberate acting. So in Bad Lieutenant when Harvey Keitel started weeping uncontrollably every other scene, I knew director Abel Ferrara had executed something particularly extraordinary.
Much of Bad Lieutenant is a worthy crime drama for 1950's Italian cinema (though just as unwatchable as Open City and other neorealism "masterpieces"). But rather than having an easy charm and a poetic quality that pre 8 1/2 Federico Fellini would be proud of, Bad Lieutenant peddles a crude thrown-together, where-have-you-been-God type of meaning-making. After the masturbation scene (which is in-your-face realism), and the constant Catholic-guilt spewing, I'll award Bad Lieutenant "most realistically awful experience of the week."