4. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (2009) – Directed by Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog’s film about corruption and crime in a post-Hurricane Katrina-stricken New Orleans is an exercise in unease and uncomfortability. Typical of a Herzog film, the plot is relatively simple and plays second-fiddle to an array of distinctly mad, sweaty, and strange characters. Cage plays Terence McDonagh, a drug-addicted police sergeant with serious chronic back pain and a prostitute girlfriend. In many of his films, Cage adeptly embodies his characters, but in “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” he truly perfects that talent. As McDonagh, Cage is hunched over, wearing an ill-fitting suit, and perpetually wearing a mask of distaste. He is, as the title would suggest, a bad person—abusing his position of power in a variety of scenarios. In what could only be best described as a feverish, crack-tainted haze, Cage embraces Herzog’s notorious style—something that could potentially be alienating to viewers (and something that likely has, as this film is pretty divisive among audiences). Whether or not one may be a fan of Herzog, or even Cage, it would be worth watching “The Bad Lieutenant” if just for the unhinged performance that leaves audiences feeling like they’ve just experienced a bad trip.