Werner Herzog

Signs of Life

Even Dwarfs Started Small 57
[ Herzog’s nucking futs. How else to explain his making a movie about nothing but midgets messing around, midgets riding motorbikes and cars, midgets tearing down trees, midgets laughing hysterically, midgets chasing chickens and pigs, midgets looking at porno mags, midgets teasing blind midgets, midgets burning stuff, midgets smashing dinner plates, midgets talking a lot of nonsense in German and, of course, midgets crucifying a monkey. This is all pointless and insane and disturbing… But it does make for a memorable dwarfsterpiece. ]

Land of Silence and Darkness

Fata Morgana

Aguirre, the Wrath of God 98
[ review ]

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

Heart of Glass


Nosferatu the Vampyre



Where the Green Ants Dream

Cobra Verde

Echoes From a Somber Empire

Scream of Stone

Bells from the Deep

Little Dieter Needs to Fly

My Best Fiend


Wheel of Time

The White Diamond

Grizzly Man 90
[ review ]

The Wild Blue Yonder

Rescue Dawn 83
[ Ten years after devoting a documentary to it (“Little Dieter Needs to Fly”), Werner Herzog explores once again the incredible story of Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale, hot-headed), a German immigrant turned US Air Force pilot who, during his first mission, was shot down and captured by Laotian guerillas. Kept prisoner in the worst conditions for two years, he eventually organizes a daring escape, only to find that getting away from the guards was a piece of cake next to the perils of the jungle surrounding the camp. Herzog’s first Hollywood flick, while probably his most commercial (the bookends on the army ship are practically out of “Top Gun”!), remains faithful to his thematic obsessions, namely man’s insignificance in the face of nature and the return to a primitive state of survival, away from the precepts of civilization. We also recognize his quasi-documentary point of view and, paradoxically, his sense of majestic imagery. There’s even a dwarf! As for Bale, this isn’t is best performance but he’s riveting as always, and it’s interesting how this part echoes both “Empire of the Sun” (where his character was also in a POW camp) and “The Machinist” (for the disturbing loss of weight). ]

Encounters at the End of the World

The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans 70
[ This is a very loose remake of the 1992 Abel Ferrara cult film in which Harvey Keitel played the a corrupted, perverted, utterly fucked up cop. Here, it’s Nicolas Cage who’s doing all the drugs, abusing his power and getting his kink on, which allows the actor to deliver one of the most bizarre, over the top performances of his career. Which is saying a lot, considering how quirky Cage almost always is in his roles! In this regard, Herzog is helping him a lot, throwing in all kind of weird shit, most notably a bunch of hallucinatory iguanas. Shot around moody, flavorful New Orleans locations and featuring a solid supporting cast (Eva Mendes, Xzibit, Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Coolidge, Shawn Hatosy, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Fairuza Balk, etc.), “The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans” is the kind of police thriller in which the murder investigation that initially seems to be central to the story soon turns out to be an afterthought, the main show clearly being the many ways Herzog and Cage manage to fuck with our minds. ]

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done 73
[ “Ever since he came back from Peru he’s been strange. Well, not so much strange as… different.” Cut to a shot of a foggy mountainscape in Peru, where Herzog famously shot such films as “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” and “Fitzcarraldo” with glorious madman Klaus Kinski… And to a degree, you could put the great Michael Shannon in that category. What an intense, unsettling presence this guy can have! Especially when he’s playing a character as strange/different as the protagonist of this film, a deeply disturbed individual obsessed with his inner voice, visions of God, Greek tragedy and whatnot. The stop-and-go, flashback-littered structure is a bit iffy, but “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done” almost always remains engrossing from scene to scene thanks to offbeat dialogue, striking cinematography and that towering performance from Shannon, plus strong supporting performances from the likes of Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Michael Peña, Grace Zabriskie, Brad Dourif and Udo Kier. “Why is the whole world staring at me?”  ]

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Into the Abyss