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DVDs In Brief: April 7, 2010

When it was first announced that Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage were collaborating on a Bad Lieutenant remake, there was justifiable excitement over the weird, wonderful train-wreck that might ensue. At the same time, pre-fab cult movies rarely deserve actual cult status. But Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (First Look) is a happy exception, an in-name-only remake that gets the most out of Cage’s batshit persona and Herzog’s highly unconventional evocation of the city post-Katrina. Add in “iguana-cam” and the lucky crack-pipe, and here’s a film that lives up to the hype…

Writer-director (and sometime star) Andrew Bujalski helped pioneer the fumbling, semi-articulate naturalism popularly referred to as “mumblecore,” and he keeps refining it with each successive movie, if to dwindling audiences. Bujalski’s latest, Beeswax (Cinema Guild), has one of the least sexy loglines imaginable—it centers on the wheelchair-bound proprietor of an Austin vintage shop, and her relationship with her twin sister—but it’s a beautifully observed slice of life, with strong performances by real-life twins Tilly and Maggie Hatcher…

Back in 2002, Hungarian director Györgi Pálfi made a striking debut with Hukkle, a nearly wordless dissection of human and animal life in a small rural community. His follow-up, Taxidermia (E1), adds a little more dialogue, but it’s just as bizarre and infinitely more disgusting, a darkly comic symphony of sexual perversity that stands to be a major cult favorite—or would be, if enough people could stomach it… 

Also hard to watch, but in a different way, is the accomplished indie debut feature Easier With Practice (Breaking Glass), which chronicles a relationship that starts with a random phone-sex encounter and grows improbably more intimate from there. Based on Davy Rothbart’s autobiographical GQ article, the film stars The Hurt Locker’s superb Brian Geraghty as a lonely writer of short fiction who gets seduced by a woman’s disembodied voice while on a pitiful book tour. The film never gets better than the high-wire embarrassment (and strange eroticism) of their first encounter, but it’s a smart, assured first feature.