"Brothers" & "Bad Lieutenant- Port of Call New Orleans"/ The last few weeks of 2009

There's a stunning scene midway into Jim Sheridan's new opus Brothers (C+) in which a war veteran (Tobey Maguire) comes back from a scarring stint in Afghanistan, shattered and filled with blood in his hands. There is reckless danger in the bags under his eyes and he has lost an immense amount of weight. It all amounts to a breakdown of shattering intensity that ends with his pointing a gun to his wife, brother and -ultimately- to himself. It is THE scene of the movie as well as one of the most truthful and shattering accounts of what it is to come back home after having done bloody sin overseas. Brothers -sadly- cannot live up to the hypnotic intensity of this scene throughout its running time and sometimes feels maudlin & out of sync.

Before the aforementioned scene there is an abundance of by the books storytelling that only results in -for the most part- predictability and a sense of deja vu. Jake Gylennhall plays the brother of the war vet, who falls for his wife -Natalie Portman- while everybody believes the former has died. Are you still with me? Brothers was called the best movie of the past 20 years by David Letterman this week on Late Night- Hell, its not even the best movie released this week. Its cliches are too plenty to be accoladed on any sort of best of list & although there are powerful moments, it cannot fulfill the expectations that came before it and the starry cast and director involved in an ultimately forgettable project.

Nicolas Cage raises hell as a corrupt, drug using lieutenant in Werner Herzog's remake (B+) of the 1992 Abel Ferera masterpiece. I'd call it a slight remake, because apart from the title there aren't many similarities. Although just like its predecessor, its a hell dream made in the fiery furnaces- with a knockout performance by Cage (So good and risky, he won't get nominated for an Oscar at year's end). Watch Cage Rape a girl he stops for heroine possession, watch him hallucinate about Iguana's, watch him randomly blurt out obscenities & watch him -above all- give a hell raising performance in a movie that has plot as a secondary intention & over the top lunacy as its foremost.

Cage's Lieutenant is seen injuring his back at the movie's start- which leads to a hard addiction to painkillers, which eventually leads to other pills. The Lieutenant goes into a trip from hell there on in and becomes out of control with his actions & limitless assault on society. It's a comedy, one in which Cage walks around a torn down New Orleans in search of a soul and taking care of his hooker/girlfriend. This is not for everybody and be forewarned of the non linearity of Herzog's manners with the screenplay at his disposal. This the kind of stuff that rattle the most timid of souls but for the rest of us, it is a film worth seeking- as fiery, dangerous & rebellious as any out there right now.