Aug 25, 2008

Ferrara to Herzog: commence the fellatio

This past weekend's NYC Vigilantes program at Anthology Film Archives included some real gems of 80s exploitation cinema, but none of them shone brighter than Abel Ferrara's feminist vigilante killer conudrum Ms. 45. A film which sports both high trash campiness and over the top symbolism, it, like many of Ferrara's pictures, lets us indulge in exploitative smut while denouncing it. Nonetheless, it has an early Ed Koch era verisimilitude that is fascinating for New Yorkers and is built for maximum tonal dissonance - it puts movies like Neil Jordan's absurd, overly polished The Brave One to shame.

The iconoclastic director didn't disappoint when he finally surfaced after having skipped the intro Anthology expected him to do, delivering a nearly hour long Q&A following the 9:00pm screening, during which, a grand total of three questions were asked - Mr. Ferrara is his own material. He talked touchingly about his relationship with Zoe Tamerlis Lund, the star of Ms. 45 who would be Ferrara's companion and muse for over a decade who co-wrote and co-starred in his masterpiece Bad Lieutenant, before succumbing to a heroin overdose. A frantic, but inspired writer, she would often write with him well into the night, after doing all the heroin she had in the evening before she arrived at his apartment, forcing Ferrara to go back into the Lower East Side to score some dope so that they could work again.

Ferrara also spoke about the planned Werner Herzog/Nicholas Cage remake of Bad Lieutenant. He ain't happy. "Its a real insult to Zoe... If someone steals your car, you don't say, well gee, thanks for stealing my car. If someone fucks your girlfriend, you don't think, well I'm glad they wanted to fuck my girlfriend... I say to Ed [Pressman, producer of both the original and the remake], what I ought to be happy? Let me ask you something. How much money are they paying you? How much money are they paying Herzog?" He went on to complain that while he and Harvey Keitel were each paid $75,000 for Bad Lieutenant, a movie shot in lower Manhattan in 18 days with no insurance or permits, Werner Herzog and Nicholas Cage are both taking "pay cuts" to do the movie, but will both be paid over $1,000,000 each. Ferrara will receive only $20,000. He went on to call Cage, who almost starred in his 1996 film The Funeral "a real loser" and said that Herzog "can suck my dick for all I care". His thoughts on Val Kilmer playing Cage's partner? "Bad Liuetenant don't have a partner. What is this, Car 54 Where Are You?"