The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bad Lieutenant (1992)

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I first saw this film in high school. We were all still feeling the buzz from Pulp Fiction, and were looking for anything else that had anyone we liked from it. When someone came across this, starring Harvey Keitel, it was a sure bet, and became a quick hit amongst my friends.

Bad Lieutenant has Harvey Keitel as a cop living life on the edge. He's constantly strung out on drugs, is extremely crooked, and now is in it deep to a bookie after some bad baseball bets. As this is going on, a nun is raped inside her Catholic church. Keitel is assigned the case. We watch as a once talented police detective solves the case while his life disintegrates in front of us.

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This might be, bar none, the best film ever reviewed on the DTVC. It's kind of iffy as to whether or not it even belongs on here. Really, it's an indie flick that was passed up for mainstream success due to it's NC-17 rating. But it's popularity subsequently came when people picked it up in their local video stores. Most were probably like us, and saw Harvey Keitel on the cover after seeing Pulp Fiction and Reservoir of Dogs, and figured it would be cool. Maybe it doesn't fit with a Bridge of Dragons or Out for a Kill, but we don't make that decision, the movie industry does.

Watching this in high school, it was just awesome to watch Harvey Keitel do a bunch of drugs. Now that I'm older, I think I have a greater appreciation for this film. The overall feel is more French New Wave than early nineties US indie. The shots, the beats: I felt like I was watching Goddard. The other thing that made it more European was the explicit way sex was dealt with. The only time the violence matched the sexual intensity was when the nun was raped, which was very visceral. I think it's one thing American and Asian film makers can learn from their European counterparts: sex is not anything to shy away from. As far as I could tell, the sex was the biggest reason this film got an NC-17. Maybe Captivity could've been NC-17, and this rated R.

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Harvey Keitel is amazing in this. You may remember the only other film of his I reviewed on here: Star Knight with Klaus Kinski, where Keitel kept his Brooklyn accent only to mix in Shakespearian English to make himself more medieval. This film is nowhere near as comical, as you can imagine. Harvey Keitel's performance won him the Independent Spirit Award for best male lead, and it's apparent why. The raw emotion he brings to the role makes it as difficult to watch, yet impossible to turn away from, as I feel director Abel Ferrara intended. Al Pacino won his lifetime achievement best actor Oscar for Scent of a Woman in 1992, but I think anyone who's seen both pictures would've considered Keitel's performance superior. (As an aside, Pacino was nominated for best supporting actor that year for his role in Glengarry Glen Ross, which I thought was better than Hackman in Unforgiven. Of course, Alec Baldwin was better than Pacino in Glengarry... but I digress.)

The nun being raped was a very graphic scene, but it was also used as a means to introduce some real questions regarding faith and spirituality. Keitel in one moment is calling the Catholic church a racket, then later is begging Jesus to give him a direction. The nun refuses to cooperate in the investigation of her own rape, because she had forgiven the boys that perpetrated the crime, and feels that is what God wanted. Keitel tries to reason with her that she doesn't have that right, because arresting and punishing the boys could prevent other women from going through what she went through. It's interesting that religion would be debated in the midst of this depraved storyline, and yet fits organically.

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One interesting element of the plot in this is Keitel's gambling problem, which spirals out of control as he bets on a playoff series between the Dodgers and Mets. The series is made up for the movie, and part of it involves the Mets coming back from an 0-3 series deficit. As many of you may know, twelve years later, the Red Sox pulled that feat off in reality against the Yankees. I considered how that would play out if the movie was remade, and I think the use of the fictitious series works better. I could see Keitel maybe betting that the Yankees win game 4, after they shelled the Sox in game 3. But betting against Pedro in game 5, and then Shilling in game 6... no one in their right mind would do that. And a lot of baseball analysts at the time were saying if the Sox could get game 4, they were set up to push a game 7, and that's what they did.

This is a case where being a person who peruses the shelves at the local video store for anything with a recognizable person on the cover can lead to more than just a silly movie that everyone can laugh at and make fun of. This is the diamond in the rough (though the film is pretty rough on it's own), and it's a film of such a high quality that it'll amaze you that it wasn't released in more theaters. Again, Hollywood's loss is our gain.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103759/

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