LOS ANGELES – Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is like falling in and out of a hallucinogenic dream.
Sometimes it’s a gritty film noir slinking through the hurricane-ravaged city. Other times it’s plain nutty, but engagingly so.
If Herzog’s maverick iconoclastic sensibility isn’t enough, Nicolas Cage gives what is one of the strangest performances of his career (and that’s saying something, considering “Leaving Las Vegas” or “Wild at Heart”) as Terence McDonagh, a New Orleans cop who walks the line between his sense of professionalism and his demons.
We first meet McDonagh when – despite his partner’s incredulity – he jumps in the water to save a prisoner during Hurricane Katrina.
It gets him a promotion but also a drug habit from painkillers.
That, coupled with his gambling addiction and being hooked on a prostitute named Frankie (Eva Mendes), puts him in the focus of internal affairs.
Over the years Herzog has loved to chronicle madmen – “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” “Grizzly Man” – and McDonagh is another one. He has no problem with shakedowns, but tries to solve the murder of five Nigerian drug dealers.
There’s nothing neat about “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” which is vaguely tied to Abel Ferrara’s 1992 “Bad Lieutenant,” set in New York City. There is no easy way to describe the plot, which ultimately has some truly bizarre twists.
The atmosphere is murky and muddy with an appropriate score by Mark Isham, but the film’s weirdness is like gumbo – spicy with a kick that’s hard to resist. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Also new this week
Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” can enjoy the theatrical versions on Blu-ray. Eventually, the extended films will be released in the format.
“Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love” is a loving look at the Senegalese superstar, mostly involving the recording of his 2004 album, “Egypt,” a fusion of Senegalese idioms and Egyptian arrangements that praises Islam. If nothing else, it has some great music. Available on DVD.
The Starz comedy “Party Down,” about a catering company made up of aspiring Hollywood actors and writers, boasted Jane Lynch (who has moved to “Glee”) for the first season and a fair amount of laughs. Season two begins April 23. Available on DVD.
“Dirt! The Movie” is an interesting documentary about how its subject matter affects our daily life, and what we can do to improve the environment beyond not polluting it. Available on DVD.
“Sharpe’s Peril” continues Bernard Cornwell’s saga of the dashing British soldier of the Napoleonic era (Sean Bean) as he tries to make his way back home from India after his last adventure, “Sharpe’s Challenge,” which is out on Blu-ray. “Peril” is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
“Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965”
“Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami”
“Lucy Calls the President”
“Simon & Simon: Season Four”
“Ally McBeal: Season 2”
“Flatt and Scruggs: The Best of the Flatt and Scruggs Show, Vol. 9”
“Sticky & Sweet Tour – Madonna”
“The Natural – Director’s Cut”
“The Thomas Crown Affair”
“A Nightmare on Elm Street”
“The Lord of the Rings” (1978 animated film)
“Flight of the Intruder”
“Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Set”
“Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films”