His movies are chopped to pieces by producers and projectionists. They are cropped out of their original format. They are always poorly transferred. Generally his films are treated like the straight to dvd trash that they are mistaken for.
Ferrara deserves more recognition. Need proof? Read the monumental The Moral Vision by Brad Stevens. Read Nicole Brenez’s Abel Ferrara. Brenez alone speaks volumes. That is no small intellect taking on a figure as disregarded as Abel. There is no possible way that any filmmaker whose been in the buisiness as long has he has, whose love for Godard, Cassavetes, and Pasolini is no kept secret, is attempting to create anything but Art with each film he makes.
Watch any of his post-King of New York films. It is a string of masterpieces. Bad Lieutenant, Dangerous Game (Snake Eyes), Body Snatchers (which was okay, but the french fight to the death for it), The Addiction, The Funeral, The Blackout, New Rose Hotel, R’Xmas. Just pay attention to the tone, the editing, the careful handling of each scene. His characters are obsessively solipsistic. The performances match this perfectly.
Ferrara creates cinema that is for movie lovers, and yet his last four films are not available in any form in the US.
Criterion needs to step up. The rights to his films wouldn’t be that hard to get. Last time I checked his mastpieces The Addiction and The Funeral were owned by low budget distributors. The former isn’t even on dvd in the US. On Amazon a latin american version is going for upwards of $230! The latter I bought for 4 dollars in a bargain bin at Fry’s.
What say you Auteurs?
Bad Lieutenant could definitely use a release with some decent supplements.
Abel needs some Criterion Love. Bad Lieutenant is the obvious choice but I would go with The Addiction and The Funeral, two underrated masterpieces of the 90s.
Speaking of Abel, what happened to Nicholas St. John? Their collaborations to me are essential (like Schrader-Scorsese) and, with the exception of Bad Lieutenant, Ferrara’s work sans St. John has suffered. Does anyone know why they stopped working together?
agree on the addiction
I would go with King of New York as well
Nic and Abel had a falling out. I believe Nic went on to the church in some way (pastor, preacher?). They had very different opinions about the themes in their work, i.e. religion. Also Ferrara’s encouragement of improvisation (though the dialogue is great both scripted and improvised) got under his skin I think.
I agree their collaberation is the best we’ll see this side of Scorsese/Schrader.
It would be great if The Addiction recieved the Criterion treatment. A doc on their work together would be epic. Also, I think Nicole Brenez doing a commentary on any of his films would annihilate most other commentaries, except for those by Ferrara (Driller Killer anyone?).
Release them all, I say. A nice Ferrara box set would also be welcome. Uncut, untampered with, better transfers, etc. The man deserves it.
I thought it’d be cool for Blue Underground to do that box set idea. If Criterion can’t ever do it, BU could just do the movies bare bones.
Blue Underground is a worthy company. They really do a terrific job with just about everything they release.
If his films are indeed reissued, I’d like to see a documentary about Zoe Lund tacked onto MS. 45 or Bad Lieutenant. She was very influential to Abel and I’m sure he would even agree.
A documentary about Zoe would be awesome. She was so important to both his success and vision. Without her or Nick St. John, Ferrara would be nowhere.
I just emailed a friend who knows Bill Lustig to try and get the ball rolling haha.
‘I just emailed a friend who knows Bill Lustig to try and get the ball rolling haha.’
It’s worth a shot.
Good man. Let me know if you make any progress.
Start with CHINA GIRL
Yeah, would love to see one of the newer films like Mary get consideration too.
Sethking, I find it hard to imagine Nicholas St. John as a religious official in any capacity. Too bizarre to even consider. Whatever theological disputes he may have had over religion, we’re talking about the guy who wrote THE DRILLER KILLER for christ’s sake, not to mention starting in porno!
I would love to hear some Ferrara commentary. Is he really as crazy as he seems?
Den, why would you start with CHINA GIRL? That’s one of his weaker films. If you want to get obscure, start with FEAR CITY which is a great non-Italian giallo.
Has anyone ever seen 9 Lives of A Wet Pussy? If so, please do tell. Is it just a straight up porno or what?
Ari, yes, hard to imagine. I was thinking of someone else and was confused. The word around is that after The Funeral, St. John quit and became a teacher. Still hard for you to believe?
Without 9 Lives he wouldn’t have been able to finance Driller Killer. Take to heart the fact that everyone involved used fake names and denied making it for close to a decade. Yes it is a porno. Yes it has cumshots. Yes it has a lot of Ferrara’s themes. It is not that great of a film though. A cash grab.
Why bemoan the greatness of Driller Killer? Combat Shock is in the same hard vein but is critically hailed. Just because a movie has fun with itself, has loud rocknroll, and isn’t afraid to make its main character a complete fuckup doensn’t mean automatic grounds for dismissal.
Interesting that you suggest Fear City over China Girl, especially the comparison to my favorite subgenre the Italian Giallo. No black gloves though. China Girl on the other hand, I always felt was a little too West Side Story for me, though done in the way I wish WSS would have been done.
Teacher I find easier to believe. I like his tv work from the 80s too (Miami Vice and Crime Story – odd that Michael Mann appeared to be his mentor).
Yeah, that’s my take on China Girl as well. The one-two punch of THE ADDICTION and THE FUNERAL and THE ADDICTION might be the best back-to-back films of the 1990s.
I have to catch up with his last few films, but I’ve found his post-St. John work a disappointment. THE BLACKOUT could have been great but it’s a failure for me. It was supposed to be his LA DOLCE VITA (or at least around the time he was threatening to remake the Fellini film) filtered through VERTIGO. It plays with interesting ideas but I think without St. John to shape and control the narrative, everything suffers. I had almost the exact same problems with both NEW ROSE HOTEL and R’X MAS.
only Bad lieutetant and the Funeral are films worthy of the treatment IMO…great director with flurries of amazing filmmaking but his back catalogue ( as eclectic as it is ) doesn’t stand out with some of the Auteurs typically chosen by Criterion
After St. John left and Ferrara started on his own, I think he went off in a very radical direction. Much more experimental.
St. John gave him the intellectual backbone that he could throw at the street, but I feel the elliptical storytelling he now embraces is much more fascinating and invites individual interpretation more so than early works.
Suprisingly I’m not a big fan of his 80s work. The exceptions being Driller Killer and Ms. 45, I never could get into his action/thriller pics.
But, again Bad Lieutenant (although lionsgate just put out the rerelease with a decent doc and a commentary from Ferrara and Kelsch) deserves a better transfer, Ms. 45 to be uncut, Dangerous Game, The Addiction and The Funeral all deserve better care and attention.
I’d love more of his work to be widely available (still waiting on GoGo Tales,)
Bad Lieutenant with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo commentary anyone?
Seriously, I’d be up for documentaries on Lund or St John, I know little about them.
I second Ricky Richtoffen
I would love for ANY of his work to be available on DVD. There’s only like 5 or 6 of his films that are on DVD I believe, and those are his early 90s work.
Mary, Go Go Tales, Chelesa on the Rocks, and Napoli Napoli Napoli all need DVD releases
I’ve only seen Bad Lieutenant and The Blackout. They’ve definitely got a distinctive style and some standout scenes, such as the scene with Harvey Keitel and the nun. I find some of the characterization a little forced, but they’re more worthy of Criterion than some of the stuff that gets picked up.
The Blackout is decent, but nothing special.
overall i don’t think Ferrara has found the right material for his maturing visual style and general approach to the medium since ‘The Funeral’ yet. The films are either threadbare(e.g RXmas), or too chaotic and busy(Mary).
the quasi-impressionist style and heavy use of dissolve and montage probably requires a story that is somewhat threadbare, but it needs to be more interesting than lightweight shit like Rxmas
Ferrara’s more recent films may rely more on individual interpretation, but that’s only because it’s hard to figure out what the hell he is trying to do. they are not particularly coherent.
Rudy: Chelsea on the Rocks does actually have a R1 release. Here