I’ve never wanted to put a bullet in my brain more than after watching The Bad Lieutenant, which includes the rape of a nun and a crooked cop’s descent into despair and madness. Unfortunately that movie was made over nine years ago, so I’ll take the next best thing – Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a film that is connected to the 1992 Abel Ferrara film in name only. In fact Herzog claimed to have never seen the original film or to have even heard of Ferrara as a filmmaker. So, essentially what I’m getting at here is that the two movies are completely interchangeable. This is my list. I can make the rules. Actually my editor makes the rules, so if you’re reading this, it means I successfully fooled him into allowing this pathetic non-review to make it through! Kudos to me for beating the system!
Getting back to Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant, I actually don’t even remember the film that well, as I was pretty boozed when I saw it. I do remember Nic Cage, in one of his few good performances in recent years,* getting coked up, and laughing maniacally at every turn.
*Seriously, WTF happened to Cage’s acting career? Does he just not care anymore? Did he forget that he can actually, you know, act? It’s been years since we’ve seen the Nicholas Cage of Leaving Las Vegas, Matchstick Men and Adaptation. I’ve read about his issues with the IRS, and clearly he is just taking about any role offered to him these days, but is there a scientific correlation between being in debt and the loss of acting ability? Hmmm, maybe there is.
Misanthropes and animal-lovers alike know that it is infinitely sadder when a dog dies on film than when a human does. Armed with that knowledge, we can safely place a dumb Owen Wilson/Jennifer Aniston movie on this list. A dog could have died at the end of Sex And The City 2, and it would have made the cut, for Christ’s sake.
“You know how we’re always saying what a pain you are, that you’re the world’s worst dog? Don’t believe it.Don’t believe it for one minute, because you know we couldn’t find a better dog. I love you, more than anything. You’re a great dog. I love you.” ‘
If that line, delivered by Owen Wilson to the dying Marley at the end of the film doesn’t move you, then you don’t have a soul. In fact you honestly may be a warlock or something. You should probably visit your local demonologist to get that checked out. (Honorable mention in the heart-breaking dog death category goes to I Am Legend. Poor Sam.)
Upon trying to decide which Darren Aronofsky film to include on this list, I realized I just couldn’t single one out as clearly more devastating than the others, so I chose them all. It was kind of like in The Running Man when the fan can’t decide which stalker to send after Ben Richards, and so Killian gives him both Buzzsaw and Dynamo. Your cup of tea may be Black Swan, in which a mentally unstable ballerina works herself literally to death, in order to achieve a moment of perfect beauty in her art. Or maybe it’s The Wrestler, featuring a performance by Mickey Rourke that relies on his own dark personal past to bring to the screen a character who tries in vain to put some of the shattered pieces of his life back together. Or perhaps it’s The Fountain, in which Hugh Jackman’s character races against time and against all hope to save the life of his dying wife. The term “picking your poison” applies doubly here, because after you watch any of these films you will literally want to ingest poison, be it hemlock, anthrax or cyanide.
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