Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bad Lieutenant


(Abel Ferrara / 1992)

Regardless of the environment every scene is structured by feelings of entrapment, similar to Kafka’s sense of place in Amerika. Each set-piece is governed by different sets of rules, which the Lieutenant navigates savagely. Even in the spaces where he is able to exert considerable power over his subjects (typically those unsure of their proximity to safety) his authority is still built on sand. At any moment it can be swept away, making his continual short term successes all the more uncanny—though this is of course set against a backdrop of total chaotic unraveling.

A sequence of note: when the Lieutenant harasses the young girls driving without a license. What’s striking is that Ferrara’s focus is almost exclusively on the Lieutenant’s face as he jerks off watching the girls. It may sound trite, by Ferrara makes this sequence infinitely more disturbing by a. not having a graphic fellatio sequence (which is the scene's logical evolution) and b. only cutting to the girls enough to convey the information of what’s happening.

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