“Bloodworth” – 2011. Dir. Shane Dax Taylor

With Kris Kristofferson, Val Kilmer, Hillary Duff, W. Earl Brown, Frances Conroy, Reece Thompson and Dwight Yoakam

Music by T. Bone Burnett

“I’ve been shot at more times than I’ve been hit. I’ve always considered myself ahead of the game. I just never knew how to quit.” – E. F. Bloodworth (Kris Kristofferson)

 

    The new Indie film “Bloodworth” may lead you to believe it’s in line with “Crazy Heart” since it’s about a country singer E. F. Bloodworth (Kris Kristofferson) coming home after abandoning his wife (Frances Conroy) and his three children Warren (Val Kilmer), Boyd (Dwight Yoakam) and Brady (W. Earl Brown) fourty years ago for a life on the road as a country western musician. He’s come home not to reconcile with his children or his wife, not to explain himself, but to die.

    This film is the furthest thing for “Crazy Heart”.

    E. F. Bloodworth is unapologetic. He doesn’t feel the need to explain himself to anyone. He’s hard, he’s mean, and he’s real. What makes this film very effective is that it’s not the typical pappy crap you’d expect from a film like this. This film deals with, for lack of a better phrase, a history of evilness.

    Each one of Bloodworth’s sons is a bad man. Not just bad, but truly evil men. Warren owns a bar, he’s a drug addict and a womanizer. Boyd is a disgruntled ex husband, who travels to Nashville to look up his ex wife, because Warren had told Boyd that he’s seen her with another man, and that she just signed a record deal. Warren isn’t telling this to Boyd to help him, but to be sadistic.

    Brady, the oldest of the boys, looks after the matriarch of the Bloodworth family, played by an ever-so-fragile Frances Conroy. Brady believes that he can put curses on people, and each curse he puts on a person is to kill them. He believes he has a special bond with God, and that by putting curses on people, he is serving the Lord.

Take that Sarah Palin!

    The only sense of normality in the Bloodworth family is Boyd’s son Fleming (played very effectively by Reece Thompson). Fleming is a bring young thing, he’s an avid reader, and dreams of being a writer, but everything is holding him back – his father, his new found girlfriend Raven (Hillary Duff) who gets pregnant by another member of the Bloodworth family.

    Kris Kristofferson absolutely nails the part as E. F. Bloodworth. He’s a man who’s filled with wisdom, but who also protects himself with a lot of hard bark that he’s accumulated over the years. I know it won’t happen, but it’s for damn sure that Kris Kristofferson should get a nomination for Best Actor in a Lead Role at this year’s Academy Awards.

    Dwight Yoakam, who usually brings his A game to the roles he plays, is excellent in this film. It seems to me that Yoakam usually takes on roles that were meant for Billy Bob Thornton, doesn’t it? The most impressive thing about this film, too me, is the fact that Val Kilmer is actually really, really, really good. I’m talking “Tombstone” good. What happened to you Val Kilmer? Your ass used to be beautiful. I miss you, boo.

    This is a film that takes you on a strange and bizarre journey. It’s honest and unapologetic, and while watching this you may feel like the story doesn’t have a direction too it, once the end of the film closes – everything comes together perfectly – at least in my mind.

Rating: 8.5/10

    

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Expanded Review: “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans” – 2009. Dir. Werner Herzog

With Nicolas Cage, Eva Mende, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Coolidge, Tom Bower, Michael Shannon, Vondie Curtis-Hall with Brad Dourif and Val Kilmer.

“You think fish have dreams?”

I have a love/hate relationship with Nicolas Cage, he leads a duel life in cinema. He’s familiar in mediocre to bad blockbusters: “National Treasure” movies, “Con Air”, “Ghost Rider”, “The Rock” and for roles that many actors wouldn’t dare touch with a ten foot pole: “Leaving Las Vegas”, “8MM”, “Adaptation” and the remarkable “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans”.

We find ourselves in the wake of post hurricane Katrina. Terrence McDonagh (Cage) is a good cop. He talks big, but does the right thing by injuring himself saving a prisoner who is about to drown in a locked jail cell. The result of his compassion leads to his addiction to painkillers that sends his life into the ultimate tailspin of sex, drugs, shakedowns and murder.

McDonagh is in love with a “classy” hooker Frankie (Eva Mendes), begins hallucinations of iguanas, his partner Stevie Pruit (Kilmer) is vaguely in his life, he sends his hooker/girlfriend to go live with his ex-cop, recovering alcoholic father (Bowen) and drug/booze addicted step mom (Coolidge). He begins working for a drug dealer (Xzibit) that he’s investigating. He shakes down two young twenty something’s for drugs outside of night clubs, and end up raping the girl. In a scary scene, Cage even cuts the oxygen off to an elderly woman and holds his magnum to the head of her elderly caretaker.

This film isn’t for novice film goers, or even advanced film goers. Herzog is as an eccentric filmmaker as Nicolas Cage’s performance. He is defiantly an acquired taste. This film drags you to hell, as McDonagh loses control of EVERYTHING. This film is near excellent through the way Herzog experiments with the genre. This film is the prime example of the “experimental” style of filmmaking.

If you are familiar with Abel Ferrera’s 1992 film called “Bad Lieutenant”; don’t be fooled – this film is a remake. Plain and simple. Sure there was the media war between Herzog and Ferrera where Ferrera claimed he was being raped, and Herzog claimed to not even know who Ferrera was. Bullshit. These men are way too smart for that. Oh, and the producer of this film Edward Pressman also produced the 1992 film.

Both “Bad Lieutenant” films deal with a cop, better yet a man, who has fallen so far from grace that he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. They’re both men defeated by addictions: gambling, sex, drugs – struggling with their faith. They have only one guarantee: they won’t reach Heaven.

The ensemble Herzog puts together for this film is grade-fucking-A! Aside from Cage, Mendes, Xzibit and Kilmer Herzog brings in Brad Dourif as Cage’s bookie, Vondie Curtis-Hall as Cage’s commanding officer, Michael Shannon as Cage’s hook-up in the evidence room, Fairuza Balk as Cage’s one time fling traffic cop.

This film makes you feel like you are smoking crack. It doesn’t stop for one second. It haunts you, scares you, and makes you laugh and even smile. All of our emotions are affected by every second of this film. There is an extremely touching and heartwarming moment when Cage brings Mendes to the shack in his father’s back yard where he used to hunt for treasure as a kid, and tells her a story from his childhood.

The imagery of the still is astounding.

The film takes us from one unbelievable event to another, its mindboggling watching Cage scurry from one scene to another, and you are just waiting for him to explode. The screenplay written by veteran “NYPD Blue”, “LA Law” writer/producer William M. Finkelstein (who turns a great performance as Dave Jacobs, the guy chasing after Cage for money) delivers an excellent script upon which Herzog and Cage thrive.

What keeps this film from me giving it a 10 is the ending. As the film wraps up, you find yourself about to hit yourself on the forehead and say, “give me a break!” – but wait, it’s not over yet. If the film would have ended two scenes before it’s closing, I would have given it a 10. Viewer be advised, I’m not really sure if this film is for you.

Bottom line Werner Herzog is a great, great filmmaker and Nicholas Cage gives a career best performance.

Review: 9.5/10

Male Performances of the Year…Thus Far.

I still have yet to see some films that I need to make full judgment on what the best lead and supporting performances of the year are.  But with what I’ve seen, here is my list.  Expect this post, and my Top Ten of Year for films to be updated.

Lead Actor

Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.

Willem Dafoe as He in “Antichrist”.


Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart”.

George Clooney as Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air”.

Nicholas Cage as Lt. Terrance McDonagh in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”.


Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds”.


Colin Farrell as Tommy Sweet in “Crazy Heart”.

Mathew Goode as Jim in “A Single Man”.


Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine in “Inglorious Basterds”.

Val Kilmer as Stevie Pruit in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”.

Stanley Tucci as Paul Child in “Julie and Julia”


Top Ten of the Year (Thus Far)

Top Ten Films of the Year

Here’s my top ten of the year thus far.  The notable films that I haven’t seen yet include “Nine”, “Avatar”, “An Education” and “Invictus”.  I would only assume that Avatar will make the cut, and maybe some more films.  So please dear reader, stay tuned.

1. “Antichrist” Dir. Lars von Trier.  With Williem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

2. “A Single Man” Dir. Tom Ford.  With Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.

3.  “Up in the Air” Dir. Jason ReitmanWith George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman and Anna Kendrick.

4.  “Inglorious Basterds”.  Dir. Quentin Tarantino.  With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Til Schweiger.

5.  “Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans” Dir. Werner Herzog.  With Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Xibit, and Val Kilmer.

6.  “The Watchmen” Dir. Zach Snyder.  With Billy Crudup, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Mathew Goode and Jackie Earl Haley.

7.  “The Girlfriend Experience”  Dir. Steven Soderbergh.  With Sasha Grey and Chris Santos.

8.  “Taken” Dir.  Pierre Moral.  With Liam Neeson, Famke Jassen, and Xander Berkeley.

9. ????

10. ????