By Jeremiah Kipp
If I had to choose the most important films of the 1990s, within the top three would probably be Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant. Not since Martin Scorsese bared his faith in The Last Temptation of Christ did a film so aggressively contemplate the horror of grappling with body and soul. Shot in the raw, gritty style of the Italian neorealists, with a handheld camera roving the streets of New York City and film stock bubbling over with grit and grain, much of the film's first half rubs our noses in the life of the title character (Harvey Keitel), and you'd be hard-pressed to find an individual laid more to self-indulgent waste. The lieutenant (we never learn his name) is first seen bellowing at his children while driving them to school, saying that if their auntie is taking too long in the fucking bathroom then they should call him over and he'll throw her ass outta there, and after the children kiss him goodbye (his non-response to affection speaking volumes), he takes abundant snorts of cocaine while parked in the schoolyard, with rosary beads and a cross in the foreground dangling from the rearview mirror of his car.
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