Monday, December 14, 2009

Film Hang-Over













J. and I made the mistake of watching "The Bad Lieutenant" before we went to sleep. J. had a nightmare. I woke in the middle of the night, my head racing, full of scenes from the film. Harvey Keitel plays a cop gone bad. And I mean bad. Cross-addicted: he guzzles liquor, snorts cocaine, smokes crack, shoots heroin, all day, all night. His connection is a woman with red hair: a devilish, beautiful angel of death.

"Why are we watching this?" J. said at one point.
"For the plot," I said.
"Mim, there is no plot."

He was right. It was just one rotten thing after another. Some of the rotten things were exciting. I smothered my excitement.

One critic believes the Harvey Keitel character finds redemption in the end. Not so. The ending is muddled: he frees two men who may rape again. He gives them money. The truly redeemed character is the nun played by Frankie Thorn. She forgives the men who rape her. The film portrays a Manichean world: evil is as powerful as good. Is it really? Good and evil equally matched, forever warring?

The morning after this bad night, J. told me his dream as I emptied the washing machine. In the dream he had gone down a narrow tunnel, the end of which was death. But as he described the dream, he was alert with intelligence. He was sure of his interpretation. And he was alive! I went out for a walk. The weather had turned mild. I took off my gloves and opened my hands to the sun. I felt better in the tender air. For a moment it seemed as if I could see each particle of air.

8 comments:

  1. THIS IS A SILENT FILM FROM 1916 ABOUT COCAINE IT'S ALSO A COMEDY IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT WE DARE YOU TO CHECK IT OUT

    Coke Enneday: The Mystery of the Leaping Fish 1916



    The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is a 1916 short film starring Douglas Fairbanks and Bessie Love. In this unusually broad comedy for Fairbanks, the acrobatic leading man plays "Coke Enneday," a cocaine-shooting detective parody of Sherlock Holmes given to injecting himself with cocaine from a bandolier of syringes worn across his chest and liberally helping himself to the contents of a hatbox-sized round container of white powder labeled "COCAINE" on his desk. The movie, written by D.W. Griffith, Tod Browning, and Anita Loos, displays a surreally lighthearted attitude toward cocaine and opium. Fairbanks otherwise lampoons Sherlock Holmes with checkered detective hat, coat, and even car, along with the aforementioned propensity for injecting cocaine whenever he feels momentarily down, then laughing with delight. In addition to observing visitors at his door on what appears to be a closed-circuit television referred to in the title cards as his "scientific periscope," a clocklike sign on the wall reminds him to choose between EATS, DRINKS, SLEEPS, and DOPE.

    http://www.2010homelesschampions.ca/video/leapingfish.html

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  2. see what a wonderful follow-up film you have learned about?
    I'm sure it will make each particle dance....
    I'm smitten with Harvey Keitel, but haven't seen the film...

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  3. The remake of this, sited in post-Katrina New Orleans, is in the theaters now. In it the lieutenant falls into addiction because of back pain. Nicholas Gage is charming and befuddled, a very unthreatening presence. No assault on the spirit such as you describe. There is even a "happy" Taxi Driver sort of ending.

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  4. Thanks to Homeless Champion for drugs lite and to Bluedog for happy ending. "Assault on the spirit" is an accurate description of my reaction.

    I'll be very careful with the pain meds for my back pain!

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  5. i saw this film a long time ago, at a movie theater in SoHo in NYC, sitting next to, somewhat coincidentally, the woman who had been my son's kindergarten teacher years earlier. i dont handle guns and violence in movies well, i squirm and hide my eyes. Elaine, the former kindergarten teacher, finally reached over and took my hand and held it gently for the remainder of the movie as though i were 5 years old.
    i cant tell you how safe it made me feel.

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  6. Ah, Susan, you know what I mean.
    xo

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  7. Never saw it but now I will. Thank you!

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