The New Orleans Film Festival kicks off screenings today. Some of the highlights of the weekend include Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Warner Herzog reworked the story (and claims he never saw the original). Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes star in the crime story set in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Abel Ferrara's original (1992) starring Harvey Keitel was all about the guilt and wretchedness of a crooked, drug-addicted cop who sinks farther into debt from sports betting and becomes ever more depraved in his abuse of his badge. Herzog's film is about institutional rather than personal/spiritual corruption. But Cage stars as a pain-killer addicted rogue cop who investigates a drug-related multiple homicide and seeks some relief with a prostitute (Mendes). The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival and is not due for national release in the U.S. until November.
More film previews after the jump. Longer previews here.
The Yes Men Fix the World
New Orleanians may remember the Yes Men from a hoax in which they attended a post-Katrina conference for contractors posing as HUD officials, attended by Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco. They announced that HUD was reversing policies and going to reopen the Lafitte public housing development. Footage from that event is in the film, along with amazingly absurd and audacious pranks they have engineered since 2004. In one of their more far reaching stunts, they posed as executives from Dow (which bought Union Carbide). On the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster (which left 5,000 dead), they announced live on BBC that Dow had set aside $12 billion to compensate victims of the Bhopal spill and to clean up the facility, which was still leaching toxic chemicals into the region's drinking water supply. That hoax was also exposed within hours, but not before Dow's stock dipped by 3 percent. Several news organizations carried criticism that the stunt was a mean joke not on Dow, but on the people of Bhopal. Ever ready to challenge the corporate line, the Yes Men travelled to Bhopal in search of those hurt by their prank.
Asked about the post-Katrina stunt, Andy Bichlbaum said it was never their intention to get Blanco or Nagin to the conference. In fact, they found out about the two government leaders' presence when they walked into the building. Initially, they had contacted the conference organizers as bogus public relations firm executives. They said they had a high-profile client that wanted to address the conference. They asked for confidentiality, hoping that would keep their stunt from being discovered. But instead, news of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson's appearance was leaked, drawing both Nagin and Blanco to attend. It also made the sham that much more dramatic.
Watching the two gonzo pranksters plan their stunts, create phony web sites and outrageous props for their speeches is funny. But it's also for a good cause. The Yes Men have retained the distribution rights to their film. They allow community groups to screen it as a fundraiser and/or to increase membership and awareness. This screening is a benefit for New Orleans' Common Ground.
A couple of movies screening this weekend will appeal to niche audiences. Rock fans should take note of It Might Get Loud, a braided biopic featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. The film follws each of their early careers and includes a jam session with the three of them talking about music and playing together.
Fans of cult movies may appreciate the odd documentary Best Worst Movie, which is about one of the worst films ever made, Troll 2. Best Worst is an odd sort of cast reunion. A child star from Troll 2 (1989) directs the documentary, which sort of stars George Hardy, an Alabama dentist who happened to star in the original, though these are the only two films he's been in. Hardy's gregariousness and charisma carry the film as the two find old cast members, reenact scenes with fans and stage screenings. They convince Troll 2's director to appear, and he distinctly resents that people laugh at his film. But given the absurd low-budget approach he took to making it, he should be pleased that anyone still cares about it. Best Worst is as pointless as it is charming. But it's an entertaining autopsy on just what catapults a film to cult status. George Hardy will attend the Saturday screening (and it should be easy to get him to deliver one of the film's goofiest lines: "You don't piss on hospitality, I won't allow it.").