Neglected Virtues: Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Author: Robert Cettl
Pages: 2film, drugs, sex
Language: English
Publication date: 16/02/2018
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Film Review
Abel Ferrara is the most ferocious and controversial of contemporary American film directors. Harvey Keitel is the most daring and provocative of contemporary American film actors. Their combination in Bad Lieutenant makes for one of the most unforgettably disturbing, raw and intense film experiences ever to emerge from mainstream American cinema: hence, or despite, its consignment to the dreaded NC-17 ratings bin, as have been most Ferrara films. Bad Lieutenant remains Ferrara’s pinnacle achievement and is Keitel’s riskiest work in sexual aberration since the classic 1970s film Fingers for director James Toback. Keitel’s association with director Martin Scorsese and New York City is well known and often alluded to by Ferrara, but with this film Ferrara proved himself as dynamic a New York filmmaker as Scorsese, although his films often flirt with so-called exploitation terrain a little too uncomfortably for many mainstream critics. Thus, it was no surprise that Bad Lieutenant created something of a critical furor when it was first released, as did Keitel’s involvement in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs around the same time. Although many praised Bad Lieutenant’s daring characterization, there were just as many who decried the film’s sly treatment of aberrant sexuality and its uncomfortable link to Catholicism and ideas of blasphemy and religious psychosis.
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Robert Cettl is a former SAR Research Fellow at Australia’s National Film & Sound Archive [NFSA] and certified foreign expert living and working in Shanghai, China.

A freelance author, ethnographic filmmaker, University English-as-a-Foreign-Language [EFL] lecturer, private teacher and independent digital publisher, his professionally published non-fiction books have been collected by such as the BFI, the US Library of Congress and the National Libraries of Australia and China.

He self-publishes experimental multi-media auto-ethnographic ebooks (non-fiction, fiction, poetry) and also publishes third-party selections of avant-garde literary and artistic works by other authors.

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